Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A heartwarming thanksgiving tale, involving video games.

I was reading this post from Penny Arcade, a website that I read for funny cartoons and news on video games, and such. But it brought to mind my own thanksgiving day experience with video games.

My sister came down for my birthday dinner and for thanksgiving, which happened to be in the same week this year. When she heard that the wife and I had a wii, she asked me to bring it over for thanksgiving, so people could play. Being a good big brother, I naturally obliged.

Before I actually discuss the experience, i want to note two things that I discovered that day. First, the Wii is small enough that I can fit the entire system, including two controller sets and five games (not including wii sports) into a bag that I got as a freebie at a Nationals game. A small insulated bag that is intended to keep a six pack of beer cold. So, the wii is really small.

Second, (a lesson learned while actually hooking up the wii to my father's TV), my father has the most complicated audio-visual setup known to man. I don't know who installed it, but they should get a medal. The back of the stereo/video receiver system at my dad's house must have approximately 80,000 plugs, all of which have just enough room to plug in properly, all of which can (and do) become unplugged as soon as you attempt to move the receiver even 6 inches. But this massively complicated system shows no wiring at all from the front. And, (when his son is not messing with it), the system works perfectly, switching between components so easily that anyone can figure out how to operate the entire system using just one remote. I realize that someday, this will likely be my destiny, to own a system that freaking complex. It's unavoidable. It's in the Perle-Levy genes, like liberalism, or cheating at cards (I get that from my great grandmother, and I don't really cheat).

Anyway, back to the substance of my original thought. Once I hooked up the wii and had it working properly, all of the "children", with the youngest being approximately 24 or 25, descended on the system, eager to play pretty much every game I brought. (Resident Evil 4 wasn't popular. I suppose that Zombie Games aren't good after dinner). That was predictable. But, when the adults heard what was going on, they all filtered downstairs, usually individually, to check the system out. And some of them even played a bit. My aunt was playing tennis against my sister, and my family's friend Mike Mike played with both his son and daughter. His son hadn't played a video game in about three years, and still managed to beat his dad. People played, or watched, fascinated.

It makes me believe that anyone can still play these games, and that the generation gap is not as wide as it would first seem. Anyone can play games, it just has to be the right game for their interests, and the right level of challenge. I've played the 8 second wario ware games, I find them confusing and kind of off-putting. I think a lot of people do also. Conversely, some RPG that requires you to watch unskippable videos for a half hour before you can play; or a FPS game in which a novice player gets continually blown away (and subsequently teabagged by jackasses) has too high of an entry point for a lot of people. The Whole Idea of Casual games (as exemplified, for better or worse, by the wii) versus Hardcore Games (games on the PS3, or the XBOX 360) is kind of a myth. It's not a zero-sum game between games that can be played and won in an hour versus games that you have to invest 40-60 hours in. The real thing is that in some games, the initial learning curve/entry barrier has to be low enough that someone who has never/hardly ever played games.

At least some games should be designed so that people like my parents, and their friends, can play with their grown children, and have something cool to bond over. If the video game market is ever going to expand beyond twenty-somethings and us 20-ish-30-ish people that grew up on the games, and be recognized as a legitimate form of media, not just something for kids, that's the direction that things will have to go. Because sometimes, kids want to play with their parents. And sometimes, a good game can bond everyone. Plus, it's fun. I certainly thought so.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Angry Like Hulk & Passive-Agressive Sighing

Due to a prescription snafu, the drug industry's desire to control everything and sheer laziness, my birth control pill has not arrived yet. And I am out. There is a point to this, rather than just too much information. It means that due to the HORMONAL IMBALANCE of incredible magnitude, the PMS has come. And it's not pretty.

Yesterday there was the crying. I got a lump in my throat during a journey diamond necklace commercial. Those are for mocking, not crying; journey diamonds are the most ridiculously overhyped piece of crap jewelery that lame people buy because they have no taste (if you have one or are going to buy one, then . . . you suck, sorry). But today, oh today, the anger has come. The oh-my-god-will-you-just-DIE anger. Work required deep breaths and feeling massively superior to the less-competent.

Anyway, I went to the art store to get something framed. The store closes at 6:30. I arrived at 5:15. The framer had left for the day. Now, in my sensitive (irrational) state, this upset me. I wanted some compassion for my situation. I had walked all the way over there in the freezing cold. But the guy (flunkie) didn't have the right attitude (grovelling, apologizing and giving me free stuff) for my situation. And 'lo, I was angry like Hulk. But I held it in. Maybe I acted a bit of a martyr. I might possibly have sighed heavily. And maybe made a big deal about how busy I am a la a person with a life: "will they be here on Tuesday. . .no, wait, can't do it Tuesday. . .Wednesday? Will she be here until close? Are you sure?" - like I am very important* whose schedule is just SO FULL that this is a MAJOR inconvenience. But that's it - I recognized that I was irrational. But I was thinking death-thoughts about the flunkie.

*Just to let you know how ridiculous this is, my life consists of the following: sleep (8 hours), work (9-12 hours), watch television vaguely and waste time (2 hours), eat (2-4 hours). That's my life. Sometimes I do the time wasting with my guy (though he makes me do activities, such as moving or sitting at the table to eat, which I do while sighing heavily).

And I get home and my drain is still clogged (because it didn't get unclogged magically while I was at work by little Oompa-Loompa fairies?), my Christmas dress hasn't arrived from Nordstrom.com, and my prescription still has not arrived. My suffering is great, but I am strong. There will be phone calls, oh there will be phone calls. And I will sigh heavily. They should be afraid.

Aaanyway, as a special "treat" (what I do every night), I am going to watch Friends, eat Puffins out of the box and watch the scarf I am knitting not knit itself. Don't be jealous.

PS: On a tangent, however, I am also angry at Hollywood. Why do they suck? Why do they think we are dumb? There is a movie coming out with Matthew Perry and Zac Efron and it is apparently a remake of Big, Like Father Like Son (the gem with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron), 13 Going on 30, Dream a Little Dream (the Coreys are masterful), and others, I'm sure. I think there was one with Milton Berle. WTF. I was in Blockbuster the other day and wondering (loudly) why all the movies sucked (though my guy was slightly affronted when I said this as had his arms full of 30 straight-to-DVD horror movies that he thought looked awesome). Why are they passing off unoriginal drivel? I don't have really high movie standards (Bring It On is far superior to Stick It - oh, but I'll still watch Stick It), but if I'm offended, you know Hollywood is fresh out of ideas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Treacly Sean Taylor Post

Like probably most of you, before I begin work in the morning, I take a quick look at the news. Yesterday morning, I launched my Web browser to learn that the Redskins' best defensive player, Sean Taylor, had died of a gunshot wound suffered the day before. I'm not sure whether to be embarrassed to say this, but the news hit me harder than I would have thought. I was genuinely saddened and sort of depressed, feelings that didn't leave me all day.

At one point, I even felt an impulse to publicly acknowledge his death in some way, like with a brief note in my gmail status message or my myspace page (those distinctively mid-2000s ways of expressing yourself). Then I realized that I had never done this when people I actually knew died.

Like most people, I never met Sean Taylor. Like most people, I probably wouldn't have even recognized him if he were in the same bar or restaurant as me. But I'm not alone in feeling oddly distraught by his passing: an article in today's Washington Post recounts that hundreds of fans showed up at the Redskins' headquarters Monday night and Tuesday, first to pray for his recovery, then to mourn his death. These are people who took time off of work, school, time with their own family and friends, because they felt compelled to pay their respects to a stranger who, while undeniably a star, never transcended into celebrity status -- you rarely thought about Taylor after the game was over.

It struck me that four out of the five fans quoted in the article were roughly my age -- between 28 and 34. Maybe, as someone who grew up in the DC area in the 1980s, I am part of a generation with an unusually strong personal investment in this team. The Redskins were good -- among the NFL's premiere teams -- when we were young, and, with the Bullets perennially horrible and no baseball team in DC, had few competitors for our affection. Kids tend to embrace their favorite teams in unguarded, wholly irrational ways. I grew up with posters of Redskins players on my wall. When they lost the 1986 NFC Championship game to the Giants, I actually cried.

Maybe younger fans, not old enough to remember the last Super Bowl victory, never invested in the team the way we did, and maybe older fans are too old and cynical to mourn. But for us, Sean Taylor was one of the few players on the recent, mediocre Redskins teams good enough to remind us of the greats that used to grace our bedroom walls, and his death -- at an age younger than we are now -- strikes us in that kid-like, irrational part of our hearts that this team still occupies, a place that we have allowed to remain unguarded.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What's in a Name?

So we have a chimney, and it's dirty. We'd been thinking about getting it cleaned for a while, and hadn't gotten around to it. But it wasn't winter, so no rush.

So while looking through the Val-Pak (you know, that blue envelope that comes stocked with 40 or so coupons for dry cleaners, tree services, landscapers, etc.) and I came across a coupon for a chimney-cleaning company. Nothing particularly unusual about the ad, other than the name of the company:


Now, seriously. Even a normal, clean-minded soul can see the problem with this. Your mind doesn't have to live in the gutter to get a chuckle out of a name like that.

Only one question remains. Are they the masters of their own domain?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Reason We All Went to High School

All of our edumacation HAS had a point. It has come down to this.

According to this website, this is the quality of our blog:

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

Makes you proud, doesn't it?

Sandbarred Once Again

For those of you who have heard the story of the great catastrophe of May 2007: my father just called and he is in the middle of Tampa Bay and has once again hit another sandbar! He is taking it well: sandbars are his speciality! He instructed me to tell my hubby not to worry and come and push the boat out of the water this time. He is stuck much worse this time and has had to call for help. No comment from the peanut gallery.

Monday, November 12, 2007

(Cal) Bears, (USC) Trojans and (Emerald) Nuts

Continuing our series of travelogues: Asha and I were in Berkeley this weekend for the California-USC football game. Now, when we bought our tickets a few weeks ago, the prevailing college football wisdom was that this game would probably determine the conference championship, and maybe even the national championship. Since then, however, both teams have played poorly enough to make everyone forget about all that nonsense, and the stakes on Saturday turned out to be a little smaller: with a win, Cal would have the inside track for the nondescript Emerald Bowl (unofficial nickname: The Nuts Cup), but if they lost, they'd probably get stuck in... well, the Emerald Bowl.

So, not quite what we were hoping for (not that we Berkeley people care THAT much about football -- we are, of course, too cool for that -- but "game of the year" would have been nicer than "game of the region in the 5pm PST timeslot that day"). But, once it sunk in that dreams of the national championship would have to be replaced by dreams of sharing top billing with Emerald's "larger, higher quality nuts," we were able to move past it and get excited for the game.

It rained. Steadily, through the whole game. Cal played, eh, decent, and the game was close throughout. So close, in fact, that we didn't dare leave early. So we sat in the rain for four and a half hours, to see Cal lose the game in their final possession. If you're like me and have never sat in steady rain for four and a half hours: you do get wet.

When you're into the game, though, you really don't notice the rain ... as much as you normally would. And you do dry off, eventually (or so I'm told -- it's only been a couple of days).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

There is a Turd on the Sidewalk

When walking to work this morning, I looked down and noticed there was a TURD on the sidewalk. It was HUGE and sort of propped up against the wall of the metro, but bent, like it was sitting. And it had a baby turd next to it. The big turd was about as wide as my forearm, though only half as long. The little one was like a little hat for the big turd. I WISH I had a picture, but alas, I don't bring my camera to work (and my camera phone is completely useless).

The best part about it was that there was a yellow police cone surrounding it. The cone had a hole in the middle, which people used to dispose of their trash. I thought it was going to be gone on the way home, but nope, it is still there. It seems that no one wants to dispose of the poop.

I don't even know what to say about it except that THERE IS A TURD ON THE SIDEWALK.

However, I kept wondering in what situation I would ever need to take a dump on the sidewalk. Was this person mad at the metro (for the poop was quite close to the metro)? Did he think a poop would enhance the walk by the metro? And further, what did he EAT? I have never seen a poop that big, except from a zoo animal. And how did he get it all positioned like that - it looked like a little poop person sitting against the wall. Is this a new art thing?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A delayed post about my trip to [Random Mid-Sized US City Somewhere in the Middle].

So, last week, I was dispatched by my employer to [Random Mid-Sized US City Somewhere in the Middle] to help review documents for our client [Vaguely Interesting Company]. I thought "Hey, my first business trip! Sure, it's to [Random Mid-Sized US City Somewhere in the Middle], but there is still fun to be had! After working, I'll go to the local bars, hang out, and generally have an interesting time doing stuff that is new and different from Washington. Won't this be fun!"

That was the Optimistical part of me. The Cynical Part of me said "You'll never see anything more than the inside of [Vaguely Interesting Company]'s corportae headquarters, an dthe hotel." And as usual, the cynical side was entirely and completely right.

I probably should have had an inkling of this when no one else on my team (this was a three person team: an associate, a paralegal, and your truly, the grand Poo-bah of Doc Review monkeys.) wanted to rent a car, figuring that we'd just take a cab. I realized that the way that [Random Mid-Sized US City Somewhere in the Middle] is built, there is just no way to get anywhere without driving. And, later I found out that going anywhere in a cab requires at least a half-hour call-ahead time. Maybe I'm spoiled by my time on the right, or correct, coast. It dawned on me that the hotel should be nice, because we weren't going to be going anywhere else for two days. Sweet.

So, for the entirety of my first (and let's face it, probably only) business trip working for [My employer], I was either at the client (in a single room), at the client's cafeteria, in my room, in the lobby waiting for people, or in the hotel's one restaurant. We'd meet in the morning, have breakfast at the same business lounge, at the same table, sitting at the same places. The hotel was literally right next to the client's office. We clambered into the hotel concierge's van, and drove for three minutes to the client. We picked up ID badges, and went to work in our conference room. Then we had lunch at the cafeteria. Then, we worked for another 8 hours or so, and went back to the hotel, where we ate dinner at the same restaurant, at the same table, in the same places. (which was a little freaky). Then, tired because it was 10:00 or so, and we had been "on" since 7:30am, I went to sleep. Fitfully. Nothing changed. It was the monolithic sameness of it all that was so odd, even if it was only over 2 days and two nights. Plus, the basic similarity to everything that I do at work at home.

At least we got a lot done. We pulled many many [not very interesting] documents, got a lot done, and met some very nice people at [Vaguely Interesting Company]. Aside from the fact that it was raining/grey the entire time that we were there, and the stultifying boredom, and the three hour flight delay on the way home, it was actuaqlly fun. I liked hanging out with my coworkers, and I did feel like we got a lot done. But damn, was it boring. I thought that at least something interesting would happen. But, truly [Random Mid-Sized US City Somewhere in the Middle] could have been any Random Mid-Sized US City anywhere. I wonder, is America so interchangeable that we basically can't notice the differences? Or was it the fact that we hardly ever left the hotel? One difference, I suppose, is that everyone seemed to be a tiny shade nicer than the people out here. But, that could just be my own skewed perception.

Also, stay tuned for a followup post, where I wax poetical in the style of Kim Jong Il's Team America: World Police Masterpiece "I'm so ronery" regarding being stuck in a conference room and therefore more isolated than usual at work. this also explains why I have gone largely incommunicado for a while.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Massholes, Crackheads and Forties

OK, I am totally aware that sometimes I am an idiot driver. And I am aware that ocassionally, I may cross outside of a crosswalk. Therefore, I try not to throw too many stones at such offenses. Until my sister and I arrived in a Massachusetts city (not Boston) this weekend to visit my brother in college. And it was an entire city where the rules were completely different - it was like being in the jungle. I thought that drivers in the DC Metro Area were dumb (and they are), but at least they aren't usually aggressive and dumb. Unlike these drivers. There is apparently a term for MA drivers - Massholes. So it's official, it's not just me.

The first issue I noticed was that pedestrians jump out of every crevice imaginable to bolt across the street, usually to get to the liquor store on the other side of the street (never have I seen so many liquor stores). The best people, however, were the ones who sauntered, or dragged their leg, across the street. This would hold up traffic even more than it was already blocked by the paramedics and paddywagons that were double parked. Langley Park * 40 crackheads = this city.

As a sidenote, there was a parade on Friday night. Now, a parade usually entails a band, maybe some baton twirlers, a blocked off street or two. Not in this town. It was 25 people wearing Halloween masks riding their bicycles in the right lane. Since the right lane was often blocked (see above), and the bicyclists were less than skilled (and possibly had impaired vision from the face masks) and often covering the whole street, this sufficed to clog up traffice for a good half an hour. I was so hungry at this point, that when Eddie gave me yet another wrong turn, I said "I'm a fat kid and you are keeping me from food. I am going to rip your arm off, eat it and then beat you with it." I am awesome when I'm hungry. And so smart, S-M-R-T.

Second, the roads were a free-for-all. There was a lack of controlled intersections and drivers were, to put it charitably, raving lunatics. We came upon one intersection, that was five roads that converged into a mass of cars in all directions, honking and all thinking they have the right of way. Seen from above, it was a petrie dish of cars milling about in no discernable pattern, like a bacterial infection. Of course, there were no lights or stop signs. Of course, they tailgate, there is no use of turn signals, weave in and out of traffic and just do all things that are considered ridiculous.

This link lists all of the things that I saw in MA - it is ungrammatical, but you'll get the point (break for brake - shudder): http://www.masshole.com/driving.html. It's about Boston, but has a certain universality for MA drivers.

I did learn some new things, though. For one, some college students (who shall remain nameless) play a game called Edward Forty Hands. Basically one has forties duct taped to one's hands and can't get them untaped until the forties are finished. I have a new party game! Who's in?

New Jersey and its oddities

So, the hubby and I were coming back from a weekend in Brooklyn when we got stuck in traffic on the NJ Turnpike. [Random observation: the word "turnpike" must translate into "we are going to charge you money for driving on our roads."] Anyway, at each rest station there was a long line for gas. On our last attempt, we realized the reason why things were moving so quickly at the pump--it was the attendants. Now, I know NJ has some odd road laws--such as those turn-abouts (really are left turns truly that bad?)--but I take issue with the attendant. Is there really a public policy concern over pumping gas? In my 14 years of refilling my own tank, I have never over-spilled or anything similar. So, why does NJ have this law again? Perhaps there is some other public policy concern that I do not know about but are NJ residents so incapable of pumping their own gas? And why aren't there more attendants at the rest stops on the Turnpike over the weekend, so that long lines don't ensue? Is the traffic not bad enough?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Flying Sucks- But We're All in it Together

There once was a time when flying was fun. It was a new experience and you got somewhere fast without too much hassle. People even used to dress up to fly, though that was more our parents' generation than ours.

No longer. The whole experience is one giant pain in the ass. You do get to go somewhere faster than you can drive, but the experience is nothing less than miserable. The security procedures are frustrating, the airlines overbook flights (see today's Opinion section in The Washington Post for a great example), and of course you can't even bring a bottle of water on the flights any more.

You would hope that all of us passengers (aka "the herd") would bond together under the shared misery and add some semblance of dignity and mutual respect to the process. Couldn't we help each other stow our luggage? Couldn't we realize that we're all miserable and try to help each other out?

Sadly, the answer is a resounding NO. On a recent flight to Las Vegas, we got to see a perfect example of this. One of the few things that does seem ordered about flying is the manner in which people get off the plane. Each row, starting from the front, gets up, collects their belongings, and exits the plane in an orderly manner. Of course, we all wish that this process were faster, but in the end we would save a minute or two at most. However, on this flight, three of us were sitting in a row toward the back of the plane. I was on the aisle, and waited until the rows in front of me had exited, as well as the row across from me. I then tried to step into the aisle to get my wife's laptop out of the overhead bin. However, I was impeded by a stampeding 5 foot 4 inch devil in Crocs, and a, probably unrelated, man who simply HAD to get off the plane that instant. No matter that they watched the entire group deplane in order, but they had to run me over to save one minute of their lives.

So I said, quite loudly to the quickly recending back of the man "EXCUSE ME! You've done this before, right?" Of course, he didn't even look back, confirming the fact that he knew he was doing something wrong but wasn't willing to acknowledge it. I then followed him off the plane and waited for my companions outside the gate. As we walked down the concourse, the jackass was just sitting at the edge of hallway (at least he wasn't in the middle, which is the preferred place for most travellers to stop), and as we walked by he muttered something to the effect of "asshole" in my general direction.

So now he has accrued a second significant negative mark against him. He wasn't even willing to confront me, as I did him when I called him on his bullshit. To me, this shows that he was embarassed by his actions and knew what he was doing. Otherwise he would have defended himself. You see? Flying de-civilizes us. It turns us into a raving mass of lunacy and encourages Lord of the Flies-type behavior (thank God there are no pigs around). I don't understand why we don't realize that we're all cooped up together in what amounts to a large metallic tylenol gel-cap, and add some civility to the process. We should all be bonding in our shared misery.

At least nobody on either of our flights reclined their seats. Talk about the ultimate in me-first thinking; this practice needs to stop. Does reclining your seat appreciably increase your comfort? It does not- you're still stuck in a jet-propelled germ factory with no room for your elbows. And does it apprciably decrease the comfort of the people behind you? You fricking bet. Reclining seats should be outlawed. Seriously.

At least when we got off the flight, we were in Vegas! Something positive, at least...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stray Cat Strut

On Monday night, I was happily midning my own business, wandering back from dance class (to be blogged about in another post) when I saw something dart across the dark street. A little white blur. A shape I recognize as not a rat, but a kitten. A KITTEN. In Friendship Heights, land of the reflex-challenged, octogenarian driver. Not a safe place for said feline.

I darted after my quarry, and chased him into the bushes near my condo. Sadly, it was dark, and the bushes dense, and I couldn't flush him out. I sat on the ground near the bushes to wait, dragging a stick along the ground to lure him out. After a few minutes, I realized this doesn't work on feral cats, and went for the cat food.

Dumping the friskies on the dirt near the bush where cat was last spied, I backed off to wait again. Of course, kitten comes out to feed. BUT IT WAS NOT THE SAME KITTEN. It was a DIFFERENT, TABBIER kitten. Excitement ensues. 2 for the price of one. Of course, at this moment, a JOGGER cruises by & the kitten runs off to hide. AGAIN. Two people slowly walk towards me, and I whisper, "SHH. KITTEN IN THE BUSHES. FERAL. TRYING TO TRAP." All as one word, really. I'm surprised they even understood what the hell I was saying. Gamely, they try to lure the kitten out. Of course, he is having NONE of it, and after another half an hour, we admit defeat.

Kitten wins this round, but he will be mine. I plan on going out there again with food & a blanket, and lying in wait until he shows up again. Then I will trap him with the blankie, and I will have a kitten.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Boys of Summer

I haven't posted in a while, because, frankly, I haven't had much to kvetch about. I could complain about my crazy schedule, but it actually gives me a lot of time off. I could complain about the fact that I can't even make grass grow, but that could be less me than many years of lawn-neglect by previous owners. I could complain again about idiots blocking my driveway now that school is back in session, but that's just tired. So instead I'm pondering baseball and the lessons sport teaches.

I am working the rest of the weekend, so I'm currently watching my last Nationals game of the year. If you didn't know it by now, I'm a bit obsessed. The Nationals were expected to be not just the worst baseball team in the Major Leagues this year, but possibly the worst team of all time. Let me reiterate: OF ALL TIME.

That's a pretty significant standard to reach. The New York Mets in their first year had a record of 42-120. In baseball, no matter how bad your team is, it's almost impossible to lose more than 100 games. It happens rarely. It's just the nature of the sport that even if you suck, you'll have good days. The Nationals are winning tonight, and if they hold on, will have won 72 games, with three to go, leading to a record of 72-87. NOBODY predicted this. They have done it with a mix of unknowns, cast-offs, and never-again-will-bes. And one hell of a manager. I have been extremely pleased.

So I know that nobody else reading this cares very much about baseball. But this story is bigger than the sport. It shows the incredible positive power of drive and desire. Especially since very few of the players that have made this team what it is have much talent. You could explain their record if it was caused by rookies that exceeded expectations, or older players who magically found their old form. Neither of these things happened (with one exception of a player who had legal and substance-abuse problems who managed to turn things around). They just never gave up, and always fought to the last out. They had some really bad losses (a lot of them), but so many games that were close that they managed to win.

So this is a really long-winded analogy about something I lack: drive and desire. I have never been one to push myself as hard as I could. When I played baseball in high school, I had a modicum of talent, but I never did the things I needed to do to improve and continue to compete: lift weights to compensate for my fire-pole physique, learn how to throw a different pitch to throw off hitters, or do any number of other small things to increase my chance of continuing to play. Not that I ever would have played at a higher level than college rec-softball, because I didn't have THAT much talent, but I might have at least learned something about myself. Today I'm still a beanpole, but a beanpole with a paunch, because I still hate to work out. I don't bust my ass at work, because I have done very well for myself by putting out a normal level of effort. But where could I be now if I put in that extra effort?

So to conclude this long-winded sack of crap, what I admire in my beloved Nationals is what I lack in myself: Desire and Drive. Don't tell me sport doesn't imitate life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shocking Confession from a Confrontation-phobe

There were so many awesomely bloggable things that have happened recently. For instance:

  1. Scented section of Giant and all of the floral mixed with monkey butt fragrances contained within.
  2. My workout pants are too big and as I walked out of giant, they ended up completely below my butt, so I was mooning the pharmacist (who talked to me for 5 minutes about the afterlife), some elderly people and some children, who may never recover.
  3. How I am sick - AGAIN. At my doctor's office, I saw a picture of his daughter's wedding and asked him an inordinate amount of questions about it. Because I paid for it. Me and my craptacular immune system. Also because I'm obsessed with weddings, which is a whole other issue.

But what I am choosing to be the most upset about is the message board for my condo. There is an ongoing fight right now regarding parking spaces. Now, there is no parking near my building. This was definitely clear when purchasing said condo. There is a parking lot that is FREE on the weekends and not 500 feet away from the building. Apparently, this is intolerable. So the management put in four visitor spots and gave us all little placards of authority to use said spaces for our visitors. So now there is a massive fight going on about abuse of the visitor spaces. There is confrontation galore, which I lurk and read. And it is so bitchy that I sometimes am scared that they will somehow KNOW that I am lurking and start yelling at me (rational - thy name is me). Because I hate conflict.

Part of the reason is because, on the rare occassions when I get pissed enough, I get really angry and then I start with the lying. The best incidence of this was when some old people pulled up next to me on River Road and cursed me out. The rage came out and there may have been an accusation of a little dick, impotence, sex with farm animals, little boys and maybe they should not be allowed to drive because they are perhaps too old and maybe a hope that their internal organs would fail. But they started it.

Another reason is that I cry when I get mad. Like at Carmax and more recently, CVS. It's hard to be authoritative and scary when you are the crying lady. Embarrassing, so embarrassing.

So anyway, the last entry for the message boards was "I am calling the tow company right now! You better move your car!" My apartment complex should be renamed to the Bitchington. Why do people have to be so mean and petty? There will NEVER be enough spaces, deal with it. We live a BLOCK away from a metro and 500 feet away from ample free parking. Suck it, people.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Another post related to personal behavior on public transit. Is this a theme from me?

Seriously, people.

I normally enjoy commuting, to a point. It's okay. If it weren't for the other people. the inconsiderate, smelly people, who emit odors. And not ones that they have no control over.

I write this because I was taking the escalator to the metro, as I am wont to do. This particular escalator goes up, because we live in P.G. county, and have elevated rail. The importance will be clear in a moment. I step on the escalator a few seconds after a well-dressed, relatively slight young woman. Anyone who rides an escalator regularly and has a basic grasp of timing and spatial relations will know where my head was, vis a vis this woman. And can see where I'm going with this.

For those who don't ride escalators, or don't care to work this challenging math problem out on paper or their heads, that means that my face was roughly at the same level as the woman's posterior. And maybe a foot and a half away. I don't know exactly. My mind subsequently became very clouded.

Because the slight young lady decided that the escalator was a perfect time to let loose with a silent, yet strong blast of flatulence. In my face. WHY? She had to know that there was a chance that people were behind her. Why would you do that? People are just evil.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Whereby my Expanding Waistline is Causing a Resemblence to Jabba the Hutt

I made the fatal error of stepping on the scale a few days ago when I couldn't button my jacket over my ever-burgeoning bustline. Dare I admit what that scale said? 139.8. I'm tipping the scales at nearly 140 pounds. Apparently the horomones are making me do more than grow new gazongas. They are making me grow another CHIN.

I've been hiding from this by purchasing new clothes, which conveniently come in a larger size than the ones residing in my closet. As my shopping has been brought to a screeching halt, and the seasons, they are a'changing, I dragged out my fall clothes. Which DO NOT FIT. I mean, I look like a sausage in the casing. And not the fancy-pants sausage. The crappy Jimmy Dean kind, that may or may not be made of snouts. And toes.

In all reality, all the horrormone does is make me hungry. If I could, say, learn to live with hunger, I would likely be a slightly more svelte version of myself. However, as everyone knows, I'm all about the instant gratification. Which means far more twinkies, ho-hos, ding-dongs and pop-tarts than anyone past the age of 5 should ingest. This coupled with my "office snack radar" means that I've packed on 10 pounds in the last 6 months. Awesome.

For fear of becoming a Hutt, I've decided to embark on a diet. Realizing that I already had dinner plans last night, I figured I'd go out with a bang. After dining at Rasika (HIGHLY recommend) and having 2 gimlets, we stopped by Indebleu where I polished off a Cheeky Monkey and a Creamsicle.

And then proceeded to go home at like 9 PM & pass out. Not consuming any water beforehand. Oh, but somehow, I did find room for a COOKIE on the way home from the metro, because, you know, nothing goes better with the spins then some LARD.

This morning I awaken and feel TERRIBLE. My head, it is the size of a hot-air balloon. No amount of coffee or motrin can stave off the agony. Looks like my plan worked, for I never want to touch the fire-water again. Or banana now & laters, since that's what my last beverage tasted like.

Now if I only I could find a similar way to get me off the pop-tarts. Any suggestions?

Also, please come to my office & confiscate my change. And tie me to my desk, so I can't cruise the office searching for birthday parties to crash.

And please, avert your eyes when gazing upon my babushka arms. I now know why all those russian old ladies look that way. SWEDISH FISH. The bane of babushkas everywhere.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is taking the bus really environmentally friendly?

I have been reading a lot of books of late on the environment and nutrition. It's all interrelated and I am embarking on a mission to try to reduce my carbon footprint in minor ways. Since I live within walking distance of things, I choose to walk places (and sweat a lot).

Because of this, I know the answer to the above is a yes. Reducing my carbon footprint, learning how to be independent of my car, blah, blah. It's all very good. I thought moving from far flung suburbs to a place with a metro on the next block would be an improvement in bus service. Definitely up from standing on River Road for hours at night, dodging cars and waiting for a bus that never comes. Was I wrong?

I went to visit my friend in Mt. Pleasant. Since it is just down 16th Street from my work, I decided to take the bus. There are no less than three buses that could take me there. Getting there was great - I only had to walk a few blocks and only got lost once and I didn't have to park. However, getting home was a ridiculous. I was waiting on 16th street for a bus to come, in the dark (no lights - totally safe, I'm sure). The sign, when I could make it out from passing headlights that did not belong to the bus, said that there was a bus coming at 9:45, 9:53, 10:00, 10:05, etc. There wasn't a real pattern, but I was like - no problem, I can wait for 10 minutes or so. On the other side of the street, no less than three buses stop. On my side, I am waiting in the dark and no buses are coming. I am getting annoyed - if the sign had said that there was half an hour between each bus, I would not be bothered. But no, it said that there would be ones coming presently. But the sign LIES.

I got to the stop at 9:44 - and no bus came until about 10:15. And the chord was pulled at EVERY STOP. Even places that were like completely deserted or only 10 feet away from the previous stop. I also had to listen to a girl, talking on her cell phone, about her friends upcoming wedding. This sounded like the most white trash affair - the girl looked about 12, she said "she has to get married on a weekend - she is going to have exams" and "I hope the baby doesn't come before the wedding" and "Rae Lynn can totally go to hell. Bobby Ray is coming to the wedding with me", etc., etc. Also, a very, very smelly man sat in front of me. And I didn't get home until about 11:00 pm. An hour and 15 minutes to get home - 5 miles, people.

So, FUCK THE BUS. I will give the bus another chance,and I'm sure WMATA is grateful to me (right, just like Comcast gives a shit that their cable never works - I am such a dreamer). But I guess I shouldn't complain for $1.25 (used a transfer on the way back - transfers are a crap shoot to me; I never know if they work, but I always try). Anyway, so I am rethinking being a mass transit babe. I mean, maybe it is better to drive and not want to beat people over the head? Possibly? Is it really better to take the bus?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

My job a'splode!

For those of you who don't read the newspaper...or watch cnn...or listen to talk radio, you may have missed the wonderful world of mortgage lending implosion. Of which I am now a part of.

As of last week, Queen Dweeb has been relieved of her job. That's right, my company shuttered our office. The best part about this is that we're all continuing to work through the end of the month to help clean up for whomever takes over our pipeline. Awesome.

The real question is: what next? Unlike most people who get laid off, I have no industry left to continue in. Go check out ml-implode.com. Seriously, they're falling like dominoes. Or toy soldiers. Like Martika sang about back in '89.

So, I need a few suggestions. What should I do in my next life? As I see it, I can go join the circus with my new gazongas, or I can somehow get a show on talk radio and kvetch bitterly about everything in my life. Or perhaps I can actually avail myself of the company resources, re-write my resume and get another grown-up job.

What do you think of my job choices? Which should I shoot for?

A: Professional kvetcher
B: Suicide Girl (hmm...might need to draw fake tattoos on myself first)
C: Math
D: Unicorn Wrangler

Personally, I'm hoping for D, though I know that my fate lies with C. Because math means money. And dammit, I'm sick of returning all the pretty things I bought for myself this week (and yes, I'd like to thank Neiman Marcus for taking back some stuff I bought in June, and did not have a receipt for).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Holders of the Poop Now Equals Two

*Names have been altered to change the weird

There are some conversations that end in total silence and awkwardness. The conversation I had with my sister, Gerardo* and myself was one such conversation (this is background for the story below, I swear). I have no idea how this came up - maybe we were talking about the PBS lineup, but here goes:

G: "It's like when you were little and pooped in your hand."
S & me: ". . ."
G: "Did you ever do that?"
S & me: ". . ."
Finally, I cobble together "Um, no. And why did you do that?"
G: "Well, I was watching Reading Rainbow in the family room, wanted to know how poop felt, had to poop, so pooped in my hand"

So for a very, very long time Gerardo was the only person I knew who had held poop. It was a dubious honor, but nonetheless, remarkable and unique. No longer, my friend. Here is how I joined the ranks of the poop holders:

I got to the boyfriend's house early and it was a beautiful night, so I decided to walk both of his dogs. I get in the house and leash them up and they BOLT out the door, pulling my arms nearly out of the sockets. I am trotting along with them, when nature calls and one of the dogs decides to take a dump. No worries, I use the plastic bag to pick it up and thus become the dog walker carrying the smelly poop in a bag. Oh, how I will wish for being that guy in a few minutes (foreshadowing, gentle reader).

Then we get to the park. The dogs love the park, but there was a soccer game in the park. The dogs were not happy to have their park usurped. The other one proceeds to take a massive dump in front of like 10 people. So I definitely have to pick it up. I use the bag and I am not sure what happened, but bag is gone and I just have poop in my hand. Lots of poop. Two dogs worth of poop IN MY HAND. I look around for a trashcan, but there is none. I am holding both the leashes in one hand, while they are being willfull and still pissed about the park. I drag the dogs around for another quarter of a mile until I find a dumpster and lob the poop into it. There is poop all over my hand, so I wipe it on some grass while trying not to get it on the dogs and my clothes.

So we head back to the house and are about 100 yards away when I realize that my keys are missing. They were with me when I left. At this point, I figure that boyfriend will be home soon, I can leave the dogs with him and look for my keys. So I sit on the front stoop and wait. The dogs don't understand this lame game and they definitely don't understand why I smell like poop. They are trying to get upwind of me when boyfriend comes back to see smelly girlfriend sitting on his steps with dogs. Luckily, I have the nicest boyfriend in the whole world who was happy to see me despite the poop smears and the smell.

We walk for a while, with our eyes glued to the ground, when a little girl approaches us and asks us if we are looking for keys. She said that they were in the street, so she picked them up and was guarding them so they wouldn't get run over. She was awesome; I wanted to give her a dog or two.

Verizon: Big Brother is Sucking- Edited

OK, I posted this once, and when I was tired and cranky. I am a bit embarassed about the quality of the previous post. Ms. Eagleton would have slapped me around for the lack of organization and, you know, the ranting. So I have decided that, since everything on the internet is available to everyone, and if some future employer happens to find this blog and someone see through my screen name, I won't have something this drivel-like available to be trashed. So below, please find a more thoughtful, more organized, and hopefully more amusing piece of drivel than the last post, which has now been mercifully put out of its misery. Feel free not to read this, as it is LONG, but I had to get it out there:

So, if you recall I posted on August 1st that I was having problems with Verizon. The problems were as follows:

- From the date of installation, March 30th, I was being billed for two DVR set-top boxes, and one standard set-top box. My configuration includes one DVR and two standard set-top boxes. For this I was being charged an extra $7 per month

- My old VOIP phone company, Sunrocket, decided to implode one day with no warning. As having Verizon TV and internet service with no Verizon phone caused all sorts of consternation with their service and billing departments, we decided to just get a Verizon landline, rather than go with another VOIP company that might also decide to implode. As it turns out, they have a nice bundle package, anyway, so it wouldn't cost much more than our current bill. A little more, but not much.

I noticed the billing error very quickly, and tried to get it corrected. The first time I called, they simply didn't do anything about it, so I called back. They stated that they would put in an "order" which would reinitiate my service from March 30th, which would then cause my bill to be corrected. This was on May 30th. The next time I got my bill, it was not corrected, so I used their online chat to talk to someone, since my lack of a phone number with my account usually routed my phone calls to Verizon's telephone division. The woman who helped me said that there was an order in the system (apparently that first order) but that the software was being upgraded and that it would take care of itself when the upgrade was complete. In retrospect, how I could possibly have believed that bullshit is a mystery greater than why anyone fricking cares about Nicole Richie's baby. But I digress...

So in late July, Sunrocket went tits up. I signed on with a company called Teleblend, which was apparently Sunrocket reconstituted, but without debt (gotta love bankruptcy), so that I could still have service until I figured out what to do. However, Teleblend's service was horrendous, frequently cutting out and not allowing incoming calls. So we thought we'd go for Verizon.

I called Verizon to order phone service, and the nice man went through the whole nonsense, and told me I would get $50 in credits for "porting" my number from Sunrocket. Yay! However, after 45 minutes on the phone I got cut off before I got to the "third-party verification." So I called back, and put in the whole fricking order again. This time I got through, and was told I'd have service on August 7th, because they needed time to port the number over. Meanwhile, I'm still calling to try and resolve the "order" with the TV service, which for some unexplainable reason is impossible to process. During one of these calls, I asked the technician about the status of my phone order. He doesn't see such an order. Apparently, if there is an existing order in the system, you can't put a new order in and it DISAPPEARS. Apparently, Verizon's computer systems contain a singularity that attracts all orders that are not properly placed, sucking them into the ether.

To make a very long story a tad shorter, I had to call at least 8 times to get this order completed. Nobody knew how to complete it. Finally I got a guy who managed to do something, and said that the order was completed. He sent me to another person who set me up for phone service, and he stated it would be installed on August 21st. This was the Tuesday before our trip to California.

So I worked the night of the 20th, and was scheduled to work the night of the 21st. So I really wanted to sleep. But of course I had to be available for the Verizon guy. Unfortunately, he decided not to show up, despite the fact that their automated phone system said that we were still scheduled. So I called the next morning, and managed to get someone to actually call me back and explain that there was a problem but that a tech would be out that day. Again, I had to work so I tried to sleep, without much success. Finally the dude comes, but we can't ge t a dial tone. He says it should take 30 minutes or so, and leaves. Needless to say, we never got a dial tone. But later that day, I got a message from Verizon asking if my service is working well! Apparently they have no idea when their service is working or not. This added to my confidence-level with them.

Fast-forward to the next Tuesday (while we are having lunch in Sausalito), when I got a call from an actual person at Verizon who had been working my issue. She said that the problem was that they could not "port" the number from Sunrocket because I'm not in the same zone as that number should be. So they have to give us a new number. At this point, I'll take anything, but I can't help but wonder why it took SIX WEEKS for someone to figure that out. Insanity. But, she says, service will be installed the next day. At this point, I'll take that.

So we get home from our trip, and have phone service! Miracles do happen. There just remain two things to do: make sure that the set-top box issue is really resolved, and call in to get all these services combined into one bill. I have no earthly idea why they couldn't do this without me calling back, but such was the case. So I called the billing department. The combining of the bills into the bundle package was no problem. But then I asked about the status of the DVR credits. The guy was quite terse with me, saying that I had been credited, but saying that it wouldn't be on my statements. I told him that I had had a lot of problems and wanted to see the credits on my bill, but that I hadn't received a bill. He couldn't explain why that was and was quite rude about my questioning. And he also told me that I'm not going to get my $50 credit because we didn't successfully port my number. No matter that it was promised to me and that they screwed it up. His exact words were "I can't give you that credit." No apology, no nothing, despite the fact that he can see all the notes in my account for all the problems I've had. Apparently when you talk to billing, they train them to be assholes, because actual money is involved. All the customer service people, though totally incapable of resolving my problem, were very nice about it. So hopefully one day I will receive a bill that shows all this, though I'm sure there will be more calls involved.

The two big things I have learned about Verizon (you ask, couldn't I have gotten to this point sooner?):

- their customer service system is set up so that their representatives have no personal responsibility to the customer. They work in call centers and you can never reach the same person twice. Even their supervisors do not have direct lines. All I wanted was one person to say "I will fix this problem, and if it isn't fixed, call me at X number and we'll work on it." With no ability to do that, there is no personal responsibility. I wish my job was like that. Someone calls me and asks for some piece of analysis, and I just say "sure, I'll call you back with that" and go have a donut. Sounds like a nice job.

- Verizon is the current verson of Big Brother. Yes, you can get some other crappy company's phone service, but they are just leasing part of Verizon's lines, so you're still beholden to them. I have their TV service because Cox Cable blows, too, and satellite TV leaves me short of phone and internet which I'd still have to get through Verizon. Breaking up the AT&T monopoly in the 80s really hasn't changed anything. Next thing you know, their set-top boxes will have little cameras in them that the FBI will subpoena so they can watch me blog from in front of my tv. Verizon as thought police. It could happen.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

This is your kvetch on drugs...any questions?

As I've posted, I'm being treated for Endometriosis. In our last post, our heroine had somehow fought off the wonder drug known as Depo-Provera, and had been prescribed Lybrel, a birth-control pill. What most of our readers didn't know is my prior history with the pill, in many formats.

The pill tends to make me a wee bit...well, insane. For some reason, when fake estrogen is assimilated into my body, I tend to over-produce the crazy horomones. Which is amusing for NO ONE ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET. My moods shift from cranky to murderous at the drop of a hat. There are no good emotions. Only anger. And glaring. For some reason, horomones cause to me glare balefully at everyone in my path.

However, being the good sport that I am, I agreed to try this new-fangled pill forumulation. Perhaps my age would allow a modicum of mood control. Perhaps my friend Xanax would assist me through this journey.

Alas, this is not to be. After a mere 7 days on the drug, I have become everything I hate about stereotypical PMS'ing women. Moody, hysterical, volatile, agressive, angry...the list goes on. I blame everyone but myself for my mood, though logically I know that it's me...or at least a drugged version of myself. I don't feel human. I don't feel in control of anything, least of all myself.

The answer, of course, is to take myself off of these drugs, but that's going against medical advice. So what's a girl to do? Is the treatment worse than the disease? I'm not sure, but I know I'm not going to live like this. Come Tuesday, I'm calling my doctor. Again. There has to be a better way.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Blog Train (C'mon 'n' Ride It)

First of all: Thank you for inviting me to contribute to this blog. I have for some time now wanted to join this new trend called "blogging" and now I can officially become the last person under 30 to do so. (By the way, I am currently peppering all of my speech with references to being "under 30" or "in my 20s" and will continue for the next, oh, 19 days, because it's all downhill from here, baby!)

Secondly: Just an initial observation, but, dang, you guys write a lot. You don't tell me this much detail when we speak in real life, do you? I imagine that my posts will generally be shorter, less structured ... perhaps achieving a greater "kvetch-per-paragraph" rate, who knows. Also, there may be more profanity and embedded links to pornography.

Finally: It may be out of the spirit of this blog, but I may use it to write about big, significant good things that are going on with me, like the fact that I am 3-0 in my fantasy football league and currently am running second in my 50-member football pool. Maybe, three weeks into a 17-week season, I shouldn't have already spent the money I anticipate winning, but I think it is clear that I am an unstoppable football-predicting juggernaut. Can't wait for Vegas!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Curious Incident of the 360 Controllers in the Night

The night before last I was lazing in bed with the guy I'm seeing, playing games as usual. (Yes, I really am THAT lame). Having grown tired of the selection of Xbox games, we decided to bust out the 360 & play Kameo. After hooking the 360 up to the bedroom TV & schlepping every game out of the living room & into the bedroom, I glanced around for the controllers. Nowhere in sight. Thus began the endless search for the controllers.

For those of you in the know, while my condo is not particularly large, it is chock full of stuff. Which means that one goes into sensory overload when searching for anything. I started off by looking in the usual spots. TV armoire, no love. Atari closet of doom? No controller there. Liquor cabinet with handy game storage in the bottom....nothing. Dresser full of controllers? Well, if I need some Super Nintendo & Dreamcast controllers, I know where to go. Coat closet? Nothing but us coats in here. Fridge? Nope, that's for food, even in my house. Desk drawers reveal nothing but Vectrex games & some loose change. Under the sofa & TV console in the living room contain empty boxes only. In a stroke of brillance I scan under the bed. Where I find about 8 books, things that can't be mentioned on this blog and a host of hair accessories. No 360 controllers though.

At this point, it's been about 20 minutes of me wandering around my place talking to myself & hurriedly opening doors and drawers as if somehow I could possibly SNEAK UP on the controllers. Like the 5 other times I opened the closet I simply wasn't fast enough. Ignoring the laughter, I open every door, drawer & cabinet in the place. I check the bar, the laundry closet, the electrical closet, and the pantry. Because, as my former roomate can attest to, I think the kitchen is a fine place for my gaming needs. Thwarted, I admit defeat & we settle back in with the Xbox (on a side note, Raze's Hell is pretty damn entertaining).

Alas, the controllers are nowhere to be found. Which means I have to shell out another &%$*ing $40 for a new controller. Damn wireless controllers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ovaries:1, Depo-Provera: 0

So, as some or all of you know, I suffer from a wonderful disease called Endometriosis. I've had a couple of surgeries for this, and in order to avoid another wonderful day in the hospital, I was placed on a horomone regimen. My little shot of horrors was the wonderful drug known as Depo-Provera. Yes, the birth control shot, comprised of progesterone. A supposed wonder drug, which prevents one from menstruating, like, ever. And has no side effects and is comprised of leprechauns and rainbows.

Mind you, this is the same drug that caused my chesticles to balloon to their current proportions earlier this year as well. Along with the wonderful insomnia, food cravings & road rage I thought I was good to go. Until yesterday, when somehow, I managed to fight off all traces of the Depo. I actually got my period while only 6 weeks into a 12 week cycle. From what I read, after the frist shot, this is virtually impossible. I should not be able to somehow metabolize it out of my system. Apparently, I am blessed with super ovaries, the kind that not only fight crime, but go haywire when faced with the hated, hated enemy of progesterone. Which might explain the histronics. And the overwhelming urge to run people over because for the LOVE OF GOD WHY MUST YOU DRIVE SO SLOWLY? And please pass the pickles and ice cream, because that certainly sounds delicious right now.

So, after a frantic call to my doctor ("Hi! I'm bleeding! Is this normal? Because I'm on Depo? And like, it's supposed to last 3 months? And it's only been SIX WEEKS?") it was decided, that no, NO BLEEDING FOR YOU. I have been assigned a new drug. Lybrel. Which means no period ever again until 2008. Yeah, like I believe that. You think my ovaries can't successfully fight off estrogen as well? Please.

All I know is that if this one makes my chest get any bigger, I'm going to have to join the circus. Or become an adult actress. And change my name to Busty Gazongas or something.

Front for the Mob

At the crazy intersection of Wilson, Old Georgetown, Arlington, and Elm (I think), there has been a vacuum store for 15 plus years. Now, when we were in high school it had a shelf that moved and it looked like people actually went there to get their vacuums fixed (every now and then at least). Well, in the age of the relatively cheap vacuum, this store has been largely a display piece for odds and ends for the past 10 years, thus generating the rumor that the store was a front for the mob.

Well, I went to get my hair cut last night and I walked by. It is now empty! How very odd! I kind of miss the now non-moving shelf and the array of vacuums. One can only wonder what it will be used for next (especially, considering it is sitting on very valuable real estate). Sadly, I will never again be able to use it as a place of note in my direction-giving.

Is it 6pm, yet?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Crash and Burn

So we've clearly established that the motley crew know as kvetch is the new blog is host to some less than...graceful people. Let me proudly add myself to that list.

Today while over at my parents' house, I somehow managed to lose my footing & take a header. Awesome enough in & of itself. However, I skated in the roller derby for a year, and have taught myself to only fall forward, since I usually wore kneepads when falling. So I tumbled forward, and crashed down on my knees, then my hands, as I was taught. Only, no kneepads. And my parents' kitchen floor, you ask? Oh, it's made of CERAMIC TILE. &%$@ does that ever leave a mark.

My mother actually laughed at me, then tried to find me something to ice my knees with. I was offered some frozen ravioli. Because everyone knows that nothing goes better with broken kneecaps than some delicious meat-filled pasta.

For me, the best part about this (aside from the purple knees, which did I mention: HOT. Especially since I have a date tomorrow)? I didn't even trip over anything. No, this was sheer lack of coordination & grace. Awesome.

Oh, and I got a speeding ticket in the mail today too. Like icing on the cake, or perhaps sauce on the ravioli.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Is It Friday, yet?

Christina has been rather busy recently and neglectful of her reading of the blog. She is quite happy to see that other people speak of themselves in the third person also. Perhaps she will start to regularly refer to herself as "our hero."

Well, I should go back to the white collar he*** in which I work. If only I didn't have to deal with inane doctors office people, IRS employees, and clients on a regular basis.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

So, what do YOU sleep with?

My afternoon has been spent on the hated, hated task of cleaning. Of course, as I am a lazy housekeeper at best, all I've managed to do is start my laundry & change my sheets. Oh, and put away about 1000 pairs of shoes. Why can't I just learn to put things away like most adults? Apparently I think the shoe fairy will magically arrive & whisk my shoes away to never-never land, also known as my shoe closet.

But I digress. I decided to tackle the delight of changing the sheets on my bed today. I do this weekly (roughly, some times it's a bit longer, but never more than about 10 days between, for lo, I am compulsive about clean sheets). Anyhow, this is a bit of a struggle. My matress is something like 20" thick, which makes putting sheets on the bed exhausting. As I go to tackle the feat of removing the bedding from the bed, I pull from on top & amidst the covers, these items:

1 laptop computer (with tasteful wood paneled top)
1 calculator (ghetto solar variety, no extra functions)
1 Alpha Centauri Planetary Pak CD
1 Civ 4: Beyond the Sword Box & manual (game's in the laptop)
1 Titan Quest CD
5 Harry Potter Books (#2 & #5 are missing)
1 Domo-kun plush toy
1 extra pillow, for leaning on when gaming
7 ponytail holders, 5 barrettes & 2 bobby pins (I have a LOT of hair)
1 retainer case (because I am the hotness)
3 pairs of pants, 1 jacket, 4 shirts & some assorted lingerie
1 wireless mouse
1 fake hairpiece, which resembles a tribble when viewed from a distance

Now really, what DOES this say about me? Um, the first thought: wow, I REALLY must not be getting any action. Second? Jesus, is my house a strip club? Cause really, that much lingerie strewn about is not classy. That's for damn sure.

So, um, yeah. My bed=only good for clothes storage and game-playing. Not for action. For there is apparently not room for anyone, including me, in that bed. Yeah. Here's to you, horomone, because apparently my Depo-Provera induced celibacy is actually created by some weird nesting instinct designed to keep others out of my bed by sheer un-sexiness.

Also, I must really spend a lot of time in bed for an insomniac. This is my 2nd post about my bed.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A comforting shout-out to the Marshaless...Marshalette? Mrs. Marshall?

I feel your pain. But the hero of this particular short story has done something more clumsy and embarrasing in the foot-injury-area. this is, of course, ignoring the countless times that our current hero has bashed his shins on stuff, and dropped things on his slightly sasquatch-like feet that make it hard to buy real shoes, because of surface area concerns and oddly-shaped clodhoppers...where was I?

Here's the scene. Sometime, in Junior high school, our hero waits in his room. Still short, having not really climbed fully aboard the puberty train, and therefore given to embarrasing voice cracks. However, our hero is starting to grow just enough that he is not fully aware of the length and power of his own limbs. Our hero's mind is convinced that he's at least an inch or so shorter. And, he's waiting for a commercial break to be done, so that he can watch whatever shamefully embarassing cartoon that he would watch at 4 in the afternoon while avoiding homework. alone in his room, our hero hears the commercial break end. "Nooooooo!" Our hero thinks. "I'm missing the show, I had better hurry!" So, our hero takes off running with all the speed and grace that his 12 year old body is capable of mustering. Which is to say, too much of the former and not enough of the latter. So, while running into a room in bare feet to catch a TV show...Our hero manages to hook his little toe on the door frame of the room that he is proceeding into at full speed. Here, the laws of physics and pain take over, the tensile strength of small bones versus forward momentum are tested, and bone loses. Ironically, Our hero misses his show, because he is lying on the floor in pain, unable to concentrate on the TV because his little toe is broken, and he is berating himself for being a complete fucking idiot.

This remains one of my most embarrasing injuries ever. Much worse than telling people that I hurt my back on my honeymoon, and seeing the automatic snicker. So cheer up, Milady Marshall. It could be much, much worse.

ps. The treatment for a broken little toe? Taping it to the toe next to it. That's it. You'd think medical science would have advanced beyond waterproof tape.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mother Nature Hates Us

While I'm still on hold (see previous post), here's the initial entry from the Oliveri Family Vacation file. I'm sure this file will be much thicker at some time in the future when there have been more vacations and there are little Oliveris, but right now the adults are doing a pretty good job of creating interesting stories, and getting themselves hurt to boot.

Picture, if you will, a beach. It is low tide, and the beach is quite wide. Our hero, his wife, and his cousin are happily playing in the sea. Our hero and his cousin are "bodysurfing," wherein one times the break of a wave and rides its crest into the shore. After a particularly good ride, both our hero and his cousin are making their way back out when a particularly compelling wave arises. Seeing an opportunity, our hero and his cousin attempt to catch the wave. However, being greedy, they are not in the proper position. Instead of gently riding the crest into shore, the wave bitch-slaps them both. The cousin gets tossed around a bit, but no harm done. Our hero, however, had a more violent experience. The crushing power of the wave slams his forehead into the ground and flings his legs sideways over his head, twisting his back in the process. At this time, his exact thought is "Oh shit, am I going to be able to get up." Fortunately, he was able, despite a smacked head, a scraped arm, and some sort of pulled muscle in his shoulder. Upon exiting the water, our hero is told that he is bleeding from above his nose. For the rest of the week, he has a big honking raspberry in the middle of his face, as a type of Stupidity Badge. Two weeks later, his shoulder still hurts, and his back hurts upon awakening from his precious slumber, but he has managed to regain some semblance of pride in his no-longer-marked face.

A second incident in the "Mother Nature Hates Us" saga arose last Friday. Our hero's lovely wife was walking to the Metro from work when the skies opened and rain pelted our beautiful city. Apparently, the managers of said city are not too smart, though, and paved some sidewalks with a slate-like material. Rain and slate don't go that well together, and when you add flip-flops to the equation, the consequences can be Chernobyl-like. Lovely Wife slipped on the slate and bashed her big toe into the curb. After much pain (and notably, no assistance from passers-by) she managed to continue her journey. There was much ice, drugs, and wine involved, but she has managed to regain her ability to walk, for the most part. Still, not a comfortable few days.

So, why does Mother Nature hate us? Not only does she send Stuart Little into our new home, but she physically causes us harm! Why?! What have we done to her? We saw "An Inconvient Truth"! We use those squiggly light-bulbs! We keep our thermostat at a reasonable temperature! We even walk to get ice cream, rather than drive our low-emissions vehicles. Lashing out like this is not going to help us come to her side. Do unto others, right? RIGHT?!

Oh, and I'm no longer on hold. Issue not entirely resolved, but he swears it will be tonight. Right.

Tech Support, Vol. 12,376

So we all hate tech support. That's no fun to kvetch about. Everyone has the same experiences. For example, I am on the phone with Verizon for at least the fifth time on the same issue. And of course, I'm on hold. But there is hope- I have stumbled across someone who has vowed to fix my problem before I get off the phone. It is possible, folks. There are humans who work in customer service. It just takes four months and several dozen phone calls across several different companies to find one.

Today has actually been a reasonably pleasant service day; however, it didn't start out so well. When my lovely wife and I awoke, we found approximately fifteen tiny things on our kitchen counter that I will heretofore refer to as "doots." These doots were produced by a tiny little mammal that, when animated, looks like Stuart Little. However, when not animated it could make someone scream and jump on a chair. Fortunately, my wife and I are not that type of person, however it is still unnerving to have Stuart Little dooting all over the kitchen counter.

We had known that there was a Stuart running around our house, but we thought he was just in the basement and in the garage. Well, apparently not anymore. So we called Western Pest, who had actually come to give us an estimate on service before, and amazingly they came right over. The techician was great, and did a whole bunch of stuff to help us out (also related to other natural creates we don't want around). The only remaining issue is that we now have traps all over our basement and "glue pads" in our garage, that might catch Stuart alive and stick him in place. Wouldn't that be fun to come across? Little Stuart revving the engine in his tiny car trying to unstick himself. And then when he gets out of his tiny car, sticking his feet to the glue pad and screaming in his little high-pitched voice. Fun stuff at the Oliveri's!

Oh, and I'm still on hold.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In which I am incredibly pissed, bemusedly surprised, and then mildly insulted, by the actions of someone who I never met

As I came home on the metro, to the supposedly "secure" metro parking lot, I went through my usual routine. I go up to my car, unlock the door, sit down, and then notice that something is wrong, vis-à-vis the fact that my passenger side seat is not supposed to be covered in broken glass, and that there's supposed to be a window there. And a radio. And my dash is supposed to be intact. F#&k. Now, I am incredibly pissed.

So, I sit in my car, wondering how this can happen to me, again (happened a couple of years ago, same MO, same target, different place). I call the wife, who is, of course, wonderful and supportive. She offers to come get me, and I tell her "no, no. I'll just go back into the station and call the police." Sigh.

I trudge back down to the station, and get the Station Manager. I explain through the glass partition surrounding their booth, and the drive-through quality intercom, that my car was broken into. He asks me if my car was parked in 5A, which it was. He says that they already knew, and that an officer had already been there. He then said that he would call the officer back to take a report. This exchange was as decently peasant as can be expected, considering the quality of the speaker and the ambient noise level, resulting in me saying "what? could you repeat that?" a lot.

And the Metro Transit cop comes. he asks me all of the details, etc. Very nice, very professional and friendly. I have no complaints on that end, surprisingly. He tells me that several cars were broken into. This does make me feel less alone, though not any better. Then he asks me to describe my radio. I do so, as best as I can, figuring it's for the report. He then, asks me "is this your radio?"

With close to a magician's flourish, he produces my car radio, fully intact, with the mounting brackets still on it, and all of the cables attached, none the worse for wear from their sojourn out of my car. Neat trick. I am now bemusedly surprised.

He goes on to explain that the person robbed my car, then took a bunch of stuff from another guy's car. This included, apparently, a couple of TVs and the guy's radio. Then, some third guy left the valet key somewhere in his brand new car. So, our enterprising robber broke in, took the valet key, and stole third guy's car. he then loads third guy's car with the stuff from second guy's car. He leaves my radio on the ground beside third (or second) guy's car. And drives away with his ill gotten gains.

I am mildly comforted by the fact that I still have a radio. And that it could have been worse for me. And, that since this guy graduated from burglary to Grand Theft Auto, the police might actually look for him. But maybe not. Anyway, I take the elevator back up to where my car is, to figure out what to do next. I call my wife, and talk to her while the elevator goes up. When I get to my floor, there's my wife, cell phone in hand, completely unbidden. She's pretty great.

I then drove the car to a neighbor of my folks. They have a garage that they let me put the car in, because I didn't know how long it will be until the window gets fixed. And I don't own a tarp or car cover. So, I'm driving along and pondering that while I am glad I have insurance, this is still going to cost me at least a hundred bucks, and easily twice that in time off and annoyance. At least I have the radio. Which is good. But in the midst of my pondering, I can't help being mildly insulted. The guy went through the effort of breaking my glass, tearing up my dash, ripping out my radio, and taking it with him. But after all that effort, he didn't think enough of the radio to take it with him. Really, was it that bad of a radio?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Twice today, this same person, while still having her conversations, has asked me, twice, to stop making noises that distract her (chewing gum, and tapping a pen). Irony is very, very thick.


One of the problems with being cooped up with people all day is that there is very little privacy. The chief problem, though, is that due to the bullpen/cube farm-like nature of my current existence, there is no protection from other people's noises.

Disclaimer: the person I am about to complain about is generally the sweetest, nicest people in my office, if not the world. I don't really bear her any ill will. Whew. Conscience assuaged.

Most people, in my office, realize that their conversations, especially their phone conversations, can be distracting. So they use their inside voices, or, like me, attempt to have all personal conversations in another room. When I was a temp, this was easy. No one had their own phone lines, so people could take calls on their cell, and move to a place where no one could hear them. It was a natural thing, but to prevent annoying others, and so that no one could hear their business. But now we have our own phone lines, and for some people, the concept that their conversations may be bothering others goes out the window. When I get/make a phone call, I take it using the quietest voice I can muster, or I go use the land line in the file room. So does almost everybody in my office.

Except for one person, the one who sits right next to me. (The one who, incidentally, just got a new, LOUD cell phone with about twenty different ringers. And who leaves it on her desk when she goes out of the room, so that whoever calls her will try her cell phone, make the loudest, most distracting noises possible. this happens at least three times a day.) To be fair, this morning she stated that she will set her phone to vibrate, admitting that she forgets to do that.

But the real problem is that, cell phone or land line, this person has conversations at her desk. With no concept of an inside voice. And she spends a decent amount of time on the phone. Today, for example, she's trying to arrange a party. This requires several phone calls. Loud ones. Ones that penetrate through my headphones and my carefully created protective noise ward of ipod and radio paradise music. A voice which, while normally pleasant, takes on a different aspect when It has to break through my aural defenses. I am trying not to listen, but her voice reaches into my brain, shoves in vodka-soaked needles, attaches those needles via jumper cables to a the batteries of 1993 Chevy Suburban, and starts the car. Fingernails on the blackboard of my soul. Rendering me completely unable to concentrate, or work. It's killing me. Please tell me that other people have had similar experiences. You know, people that have a habit/behavior/lack of social awareness that make you want to kill them, if it were not for the fact that they are otherwise incredibly nice people, and doubtless have no idea how annoying that that particular thing is.

Please tell me that other people have contemplated unspeakable acts of swift and blinding violence. And then decided not to, because, you know, Prison Rape.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The other night began like every other night before it. I was in bed, reading before I crashed for the night. As I'm laying there, reading "Our Stolen Future" (nothing like some light bedtime reading, eh?), something comes skittering across my chest at approximately 1,000 miles per hour. Being the calm, reasonable girl that I am, I flung my book up into the air (picture it ever so slowly going end over end until it lands on the floor-I flung it right good), jumped out of bed, squealed & flailed my arms wildly. I might have hopped up & down a couple times for good measure as well. While squealing. And flailing. Because I'm all about the dignity here.

Once I calmed down, glanced around & realized that no one saw my shame, so therefore it could be saved for blogging, I started looking around to locate the culprit. On the side of the bed, on my lovely 400 thread count sateen pristine white sheet, was a tiny, green spider. FUCKER. In my BED. My SANCTUARY. Where I spend all the time playing Alpha Centauri & reading Sci-fi novels. HOW DARE HE? After a moment's pause, I pounced on my tissue box and crushed the life out of the little beasty, feeling rather guilty about it. I really should have gotten a cup and a sheet of paper & trapped him so I could release him into his natural habitat (everyone does this, right? trap the bug for safe release? no? hmmm?).

That's when I realized that my murder was highly justified as it was retaliation for the FIFTY spider bites festooned across my pale skin. Seriously, they're EVERYWHERE, because I was clearly sleeping with the enemy for a few nights. Not to share too much info, but I only sleep in my underpants, which means there were plenty of places to bite me. Including, but not limited to: the top of my right foot; all up & down my arms & legs; my cleavage, my back, my face, and my personal favorite-between two of my TOES. Because nothing makes your day more than an itch that's impossible to scratch.

So moral of the story is that I'm not sure if I only won the battle or the way. For spider bitage does not make for hot cleavage, and I have some dates forthcoming. Drat. Also, hush about the entomology classes & the squealing like a little girl. Spiders aren't really insects, after all.

In which my tranquility is disturbed. . .

As some of you may know, I just bought a condo. A beautiful condo (at Project price) in which I live ALONE. Sans the brother. Sans any roommates. Just me in my beautiful palace of aloneness. You may see a regular apartment with rooms and such, but to me it's a magical place where there are unicorns and sprites frolicking in my utopia of wonderfulness. Where I sit on my own (beautiful)couch and watch whatever I want on television; and I can be as slothful as I want without being ashamed (and I am so very slothful). I can ignore anyone who knocks on my door (because I'm a hermit and kind of a bitch) because I know it's not from anything I (meaning the brother) has done wrong. Like let the dog loose and have his anal glands explode all over the neighbors lawn. Or run into a neighbors house while they have the door open and pee on the couch (this was the dog). Or leave boxer shorts in spaghetti sauce on the living room floor (this was the brother). This is why living by myself is beautiful and wonderful.

But the peace is disturbed every morning at approximately 4 am by the FUCKING BASTARD WHOSE CAR ALARM GOES OFF. Every. Time. A. Train. Goes. By. Oh, and in case I didn't mention, there is a train track directly behind the building. So the car alarm goes off for approximately thirty quadrillion hours. Then it stops. And I am relieved and try to go back to sleep. Then it starts again. And again. So I look out the window last night to see if I can see which car it is. It is a stupid muscle car that is black and a Mustang or some other such type of car. And it is EVIL and belongs to SATAN. It is Satan's car, that he drives to pick up evil people and drop them into hell.

So if this is the only fly in the ointment of my bliss, then it's not so bad. I mean, I have unicorns and sprites, that should make up for the evil of the car alarm, right? Well, fuck that. Baseball bat meets car. If I had a baseball bat. It's my birthday coming up soon - a baseball bat would be appreciated. More appreciated would be the death of satan's car.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Benihana Volcano. Squared.

There is no cuisine-related show better than that provided by Japanese Hibachi-style restaurants, such as the esteemed Benihana. Well, maybe if they combined Benihana with a Hooters, and the chefs were Hooters girls. Benihooters, they could call it. I think I need to talk to someone about getting one of those started...

But I digress. Food show. Benihana. The chefs fling food around; toss knives in the air; and create what I now know as the "Benihana Volcano," where slices of onion are piled up and oil is poured inside to create a steaming pile of oniony goodness. But alas, I saw this not once but TWICE this weekend. And all because I wanted to entertain my mom for her birthday.

To back up, I haven't been to a Benihana in years. I think the last time was Christmas Eve of 1996. It was my sophomore year of college, and I was working part-time at Radio Shack. Being in retail, I had to stay at school through Christmas Eve to work during the busiest few days of the year. I then drove home, after we closed at about 3 pm, through a sleet storm. For dinner, we decided to go to Benihana. This apparently was also the last time my mom had been, and I seemed to remember that we enjoyed it, though left smelling STRONGLY of grease.

The idea of taking my mom to dinner and a show came to my lovely wife on Saturday evening, as we were dining with some of her friends at the Benihana in Bethesda. We all thought it would be a fun place to have dinner. However, that is also what my mom requested for her birthday- something fun. So, being such mom-pleasers as we are, we suggested Benihana as a place to go the following night, hoping that she wouldn't be that interested, but knowing that we could deal with it if she so chose.

Well, she did so choose. And she and her boyfriend loved every minute of it. It is an entertaining way to eat, and we were very pleased that they enjoyed themselves so much. It was rather humorous that we had the same waitress both nights. Sharon thinks that I'm imagining that she recognized us, but I think she took a long look at us when we sat down. Fortunately, we had a different chef, and he was much better than that from Saturday night. His name was David (read: Da-VEED, as if from Latin America) and he made lots of jokes deliberately confusing Japan and Mexico. Our South Asian chef from the night before was not nearly as entertaining.

So all in all, though we ate at the same restaurant (and let me tell you, not a cheap one) two nights in a row, it was all worth it. However, I'm sure it will be another 11 years before we go back. The next time I see something called a volcano, I want to see some lava, damnit.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Oh, Brother....

My Friday began like most Fridays, awakening at 5:30 AM, surfing the internet, consuming 5 cups of coffee, settling in at work. Until the phone rang somewhere shortly before 10 AM. On the other end was my brother, my older sibling asking me if I'd seen his laptop case. Of course, being at my office, I did not see his laptop case, and told him as much. At which point he & my mother ask me to go check my car. You know, as if I have nothing better to do at work then run down to my car.

Of course, blood is thicker than irritation, so I complain bitterly to my co-worker that my family CLEARLY thinks I do NOTHING at work all day, but gamely run down to the car. Opening the back door, I spy a black nylon bag. A laptop-sized bag. Calling my brother back, I inform him that yes, he DID leave it in my car, and WHY COULDN'T HE HAVE TOLD ME THIS YESTERDAY? So maybe I could have dropped it off BEFORE WORK? No worries, he says, check & see what's inside, maybe he won't need it.

Opening the bag, I see some old pens, receipts, the usual. Until I arrive at a book. THE ONLY ADVANCE COPY OF THEIR BOOK IN EXISTANCE, apparently. As Matt begins swearing, my mind races, as I had taken off a few days this week, and I know what's coming. I tell him I'll ask my boss if I can take the book to him. If it's that important, I'm going to look like a total asshole if I don't bring it to the airport. Oh yes, did I mention his plane is leaving? In about 2 hours? From Dulles, which is like an hour away from my office in MD? Awesome.

and begin shutting down my computer. But my boss is in one of her endless meetings, and I need to track her down. As the clock is ticking, I start running across the office, bursting into the WRONG meeting, then finding the correct one, where I actually say to my boss: "My brother is a fucking idiot & left his laptop case in my car. I have to get to Dulles, STAT." Seriously, I am a tool. Luckily, my boss is decent, and lets me leave, as I run out, yelling back, "I promise I'll finish all my loans today" and take off.

I jump in my car, which is running a little low on gas, and the low tire light is on, but fuck it, I don't have time for this shit, and speed off. As everyone knows, I have a lead foot. Speeding along, I slow down momentarily any place I know cops might hide along 270 & 495. Racing on to the toll road, I slow to what seems like a near crawl, but is slightly above the speed limit & call my mom, who is taking my brother & sister-in-law to the airport. Turns out I'm less than 5 minutes behind them, though I was 20 miles further from the airport. I race into the Dulles parking lot, roll down my window & hand off the laptop case. Mom flings $4.00 at me for parking & I speed off, back to work-for though I will work from home that afternoon, I still have a lot on my plate, and need to get back to my files. As it stands, I know I'm going to be working late on my own dime to make up for this. Good times.

Total time to get from office to dulles to home: 1.5 hours. Right in the middle of my work day. Amount of street cred lost at work? Immeasurable. Awesome. Who takes off in the middle of the day to drive a BOOK to their brother? Their OLDER brother, I might add. Isn't he supposed to be the responsible one?

Let me tell you, he owes me big time. I'd better get a good Xmas present from him this year.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Smelly guy and the unexpected surprise

The chief problem with the metro, and with all public transportation, is one that I feel down in the depths of my misanthropic soul. It's that you have to share it with the public. The rude, self-interested, loud, jostling, inconsiderate of their fellow man public. However, the following story isn't about intentional rudeness, just about how riding with one's fellow human beings isn't often that great.

I mention this because of my ride this morning. I got into the train car, and found an open seat, right behind a sleeping guy. I generally don't have a problem with sleeping guys. They can occasionally be a rich source of amusement, as was the case about a week ago, where a guy on a packed train was snoring so loudly, and in such a rich variety of buzz saw tones, that all of the other passengers had a quiet laugh at him, in a beautiful expression of communal mockery. Plus, you can’t really get mad at a sleepy guy. The metro can be relaxing, and sometimes I have fallen asleep on the train. No problems there. So, I sat behind him, opened up my paper (the Express, motto: 'It's a free paper, so fuck quality, we'll just make a the whole thing from AP reports and slap the Post's name on it') and settled in for the ride.

The train began to move. We were on our way. And that's when I noticed it. There was a strange smell in the air. Not a pleasant aroma. I wondered where it was from. What it was. Then my keen senses collaborated with my brain to produce the answer. I know that smell. It's "eau de unwashed dude." A particularly piquant vintage, as well. Yowsa. why didn't I notice it before? And where is it coming from? Oh no.... It's from sleeping guy. How could I have not noticed this before? He didn't look smelly. I even did a brief recon before I sat down behind him, having experienced smelly guys before. The guy was dressed reasonably well. He wasn't going into the office, but he wasn't dressed like a homeless guy or anything. He was wearing a fairly new t-shirt and jeans, carrying a backpack that was in good condition. He basically looked like he was on his way to work, and was catching a nap on the way in. There was no indication of odor whatsoever.

I immediately looked around. by the time I had come to this odiferous epiphany, the seats around me had become filled. so, I couldn't move seats, really. I would have to tough it out. Well, it's unpleasant, but not too bad. When suddenly...Sleepy guy began to stir. He lifted his smelly head upwards, yawned, and sniffled. And here my troubles began.

Because a new cacophony of smells came forth from smelly guy. None of them pleasant. There was the overall funk of unwashed guy with bad B.O. An experienced commuter can tune this out. but when he rose, and yawned, there were some newcomers. The ones I could identify were chronic halitosis, some sort of cold-related snot smell, and flatulence that seemed oddly vivid. But there were others, and none of them were good. These were the wild, untamed aromas of a person who had not cleansed himself, possibly for days. And now, as he was regaining consciousness, the aromas were rising up, as if to ride forth from Castle Funkenstein, and strangle the villagers.

Now, I could do nothing. Helplessly trapped in my seat, I simply buried my face in the paper, and tried to breathe through my ears. Since that wouldn't work, and is actually physiologically impossible, I breathed through my mouth, and thought of clean laundry. I simply thought "he's got to get off sometime. Or I will. But one way or another, this will be over."

I tried to tune out the symphony of smells jostling for attention in my sinuses. I was mostly successful, and waited, trying not to breathe too much, or too deeply. Then, the train made a stop. Smelly guy picked up his backpack. He was getting up! He was leaving! I prepared to gulp in a snootful of (relatively) fresh air. And I thought to myself: why was this guy so smelly. Why were his odors so prevalent, especially the farting? Then, I got my answer as he stood up, and it was the capstone of my Metro experience this morning.

When smelly guy stood up, I saw why. Smelly guy had no belt, and as he got to his feet, I saw that his pants had slid down a considerable bit. My view was filled with a generous portion of uncensored man-ass. At least a quarter cheek, on both sides. Stinky guy was not wearing underwear. This, combined with his rakishly low-slung pants, meant that all of his smells, especially the fart-related ones, were coming to me almost completely unfiltered. As I pondered this, the man-ass retreated from my site, and then resolved into an ever-shrinking vision of smelly guy leaving the car, and shuffling onto the platform to go to work, or wherever he was headed. Off to moon other people. God speed, smelly guy. I took a deep breath of clean air, and watched as someone else sat in smelly guy's vacated seat. I took a moment to ponder what the new guy thought, having sat in the residual funk of smelly guy. I briefly imagined their confusedly crinkled nose, and then went back to my paper.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

American Consumerism. And Babies.

We have a little, oddly-shaped closet in our basement. It's in the storage area, and is probably about four by eight feet. When we bought the house, we thought that maybe someday we could make it into a little darkroom. It's just about the right size, and we have plenty of storage space.

Fast forward about two months. The dreams of the darkroom have died. It is now a storage room, and is almost full. Everything in the room is baby-related.

Now before any of you start jumping to conclusions (I know you all have the "Jumping to Conclusions" mat), we are NOT having a baby. Not now, at any rate, and probably not for about three years or so. However, my lovely wife is the youngest of four kids, who have five children among them. And they kept all their baby crap for us. Actually, I am not complaining about this. It is great, because we are going to have practically everything we need for a baby. For a baby shower, we can just ask for a truckload of diapers. It will be great.

However, all of this baby crap has enlightened me to the money-making machine that is a baby. Sharon went to a baby shower a couple of weeks ago, and was describing to me some of the gifts the mom-to-be received. Each gift was more ridiculous than the next. The culmination of the list almost made me drive the car off the road. The mom received a towel for the baby. But the towel has a HOOD. Why on earth would anyone need a towel with a HOOD??? What's wrong with using a normal size towel and swaddling the baby? It's not like you are bathing the child in a nearby stream where it's 14 degrees and are afraid about the loss of body heat. Parents bathe their children inside, where unless you are like my parents, the house is at least 70 degrees.

The mom-to-be had registered for this item. Apparently she had asked for one, because she obviously didn't know any better. Her shower attendees quickly corrected her: one is certainly not enough. She needs four or FIVE hooded towels!

Seriously, even the cleanest of us don't wash our towels every day. For a baby, are you going to be any different? Why do you need a hooded towel at all, let alone FIVE? This was compounded later than evening when we were visiting a friend of Sharon's, who has a two-year-old daughter. She had two whole drawers full of sippy cups. Apparently, Mom preferred one type of sippy cup, where the day-care center required another type. So after she had bought 10 sippy cups, she had to buy ten more in another style.

What the hell is wrong with this country? Why do we need hooded towels, or multiple types of sippy cups? And why do we buy into this crap? The second couple we visited thought the hooded towels are great. Otherwise normal, sane people start to sing the praises of boutique towels and other such bank-account leeches. Apparently there is no stronger kool-aid than what they serve in the maternity ward.