Thursday, December 17, 2009

Break In Case of Anything

Like every good citizen these days, I'm trying to be more earth friendly. And like every citizen who wants to stay healthy, I'm trying to get more vitamin C. These two worlds collided recently at work. The workplace where I was, uh, working had some little mini-cartons of orange juice. Funny thing about mini-cartons: There's no need to use anything but the carton to drink it. No straw is necessary. Sure, big cartons like milk cartons are for pouring into a glass unless you want to get the stink-eye from your wife as you put the milk carton up to your lips.

So I was dumbfounded when I found that these OJ mini-cartons at work had a mini-straw in a mini-plastic sheath glued to the side. Not too earth friendly if you ask me. The mini-carton was labeled "poke straw through side" or some shite like that. No way. I was out to prove that mini-carton mini-wrong by opening up the carton the way good citizens did before the advent of the mini-straw. Forget the fact that the straw had already done its earth damage by existing in the first place, I wasn't gonna use it. I figure I'd save it for somebody who might want to use it to snort drugs or something. Something the mini-straw was probably needed for more than drinking out of a mini-carton.

I started to rip open the front of the mini-carton just like you do any other carton, and here's how successful I was:



Yep. Not gonna pour OJ down the front of my shirt. Vitamin C: 1, Earth: 0.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

LAX

A few weeks back I took my first solo flight in quite some time. It's amazing how quickly you can get through check-in and security without having to wrangle kids. My flight was departing at 7:30 am, which meant I had to be ready to board by 7, which meant I should probably be arriving at the airport at 6. Which meant I'd be getting up before the crack of dawn.

So I prepped everything as best I could the night before and set everything by the door so I wouldn't be making a bunch of noise and waking up the baby Blaise. Being the obsessive traveler I am, it was a foolproof plan.

But I am a fool. After getting up and somehow ready to head out earlier than scheduled, I went to grab my keys. They weren't near the door. Not anywhere near the door. Soon I was tiptoeing around the bedroom with a mini Maglite searching through jackets and pants pockets hunting for keys. Clock ticking loudly. I must have gone back and forth through every room twice before noticing the keys hanging off the edge of a canvas Trader Joe's shopping bag that was hanging off the edge of a dining room chair.

Next I'm pulling my car into short-term parking at LAX near the US Airways terminal. I'm making note of what level the car is parked on, and I'm briskly walking across the skybridge over the LA airport traffic jam below. Security is fairly easy, seeing's how I have no kids to manage and I only have a carry-on bag and my backpack.

I wanted to get coffee, but I thought I'd better get some rest on the first leg of the flight. I estimated I'd get some shuteye, land, get up in the air again just in time for beverage service right before the caffeine withdrawal headache hit. Turns out the flight was so quick that I didn't have a chance to get any sleep.

And now I was in Las Vegas for 30 minutes before my next flight started boarding. So I did what any red-blooded American stuck in an airport in Las Vegas would do: gamble. Not that there's much action in the airport except slots, so I pulled out my wallet and found some singles.

I fed one into a slot machine. The machine spit the dollar out. I fed it back in. It spit it out. I grabbed a different dollar and fed it in. It spit the new dollar out. Since I wasn't getting any gambling done, I did my own mental gamble and thought "if this other machine doesn't take the dollar, then I'm done." I reached over to the next machine and fed it a dollar. It spit it out. Obviously somebody didn't want me gambling, so I took the hint and opted for some food instead. I grabbed some type of pocket pita thing and headed to the gate.

We got into the air and the caffeine withdrawal headache started to introduce itself. By the time beverage service made it to my seat, I had to ask for two cups of coffee. Who the hell could predict when they'd be back around? Knowing US Airways, probably never. The coffee was so bad that I had to break my streak of drinking coffee without cream and sugar. I downed both cups at just below scalding temperature strictly to kill the oncoming headache. Disaster averted.

I had planned to use some of the plane ride to work on a music video, so I pulled out my laptop and portable drive, inserted the earbuds and got down to business. 20 minutes into it, one of the male flight attendants came by and asked if I wanted another cup of coffee. I pulled out one of the earbuds and said "no thanks". As he turned to walk away, I thought I heard him say "Do you have enough stuff?" It's just a laptop and a mini-drive. Jeez.

We landed, I did the meet and greet, and before you know it I'm back on a plane to Los Angeles. This time the flight was completely full, as in zero seats available and I get seated next to a guy in the middle seat who doesn't fit in a middle seat. I bailed on the idea of doing anymore in-flight editing. A few cramped hours later I'm back on the ground in LA.

As I walked past security, I could see a skybridge to the parking garage, and a sign with an arrow pointing in that direction which said PARKING GARAGE. Sweet, I don't have to go all the way down and back up again, I can just go across. I was so sure it had to be a trick that I asked the security people "Can I really go straight across to the parking garage?" The security guards looked at each other, then both looked at the PARKING GARAGE sign, then back to me and nodded. Must be my lucky day.

Halfway across the parking garage, I noticed that I was walking toward a parking structure that wasn't the same one I drove into the day before. I turned around and walked back into the terminal, only now I had to go downstairs to get past security. And to be able to walk on the ground level to get to the right garage.

I got outside and saw the right garage and started walking towards it. And then I noticed that wasn't the right parking garage either. Suddenly I realized why I wasn't where I thought I should be. Because the outbound flight was on US Airways, and the return was Northwest. Completely different sides of the airport. Not just any airport. LAX.

And because it's LAX, getting from one side to the other ain't easy. I decided to take my chances and use a skybridge to the nearest parking structure and hope to be able cross the middle to my parking structure. One broken elevator and a flight of stairs later, I was able to cross a skybridge and I found out that no, you can't cross. You must go down from the skybridge to the ground and walk around no man's land, the section in the middle of LAX.

I felt like some sort of refugee with my rolling carry-on as limo after limo passed me. Remarkably I walked by two or three other people who appeared to be in the same boat as I was in, rolling their bag around searching this way and that to find out how to get back to their cars.

Things started looking familiar and I found the right parking garage. Because I was parked on a higher level, I pressed the up button on the elevator. Waited. Apparently it was broken. I took the stairs. Took them up a flight too far. Came back down and finally reached my car. I estimated that the whole excursion probably cost me an extra 10 parking bucks in foot travel time. I drove to the cashier. 60 dollars. Next time I'm taking the bus.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Skinny Puppy

The hours to write this week's post have been whittled away by work. In the post's place, I offer up this very strange inadvertent e-mail I received during the past week. It involves ferrets, Shasta, and the name Lebowski.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mr. Moustache

I've sported a goatee for about eight years straight. Early stages included the moustache part that most men grow when they decide to grow a goatee. I liked the facial hair aspect, but the moustache was way too itchy, so I shaved the moustache off and kept the goatee. It's been that way for about eight years straight now.

Last year a co-worker of mine tipped me off to an event called "Movember". The idea behind Movember is that during the month of November, men grow a moustache to raise awareness for men's health issues. I thought it would be fun and for a good cause, so I let the moustache begin.

A few days later I saw a dad at Judah's school sporting a Fu Manchu. I asked if he was doing the Movember thing, and he said "Naw, it was for my Halloween costume, but I thought about doing the Movember thing." Even though he wears a suit and tie for work every day, I told him the 'stache looked awesome and he should keep it going. Later that week he still had the Fu Manchu. Movember, I realized, was more fun when when somebody you know was doing it too.

The dark side of Movember creeped up when I was reminded of the itchy aspect of having a moustache. I decided to shave of the vertical connectors between the moustache and the goatee in hopes that the itchyness would go away. It didn't. But it was suddenly looking a lot more like a full moustache, and I felt like Johnny Depp playing Captain Jack Sparrow channeling Keith Richards, minus the acting talent Johnny Depp has. And the good looks.

One night while reading a bedtime story to Judah about a shark with a false moustache, he looked over and started studying my face and said "are you growing a moustache?" I told him that it was only for a little while. He thought you could take off the moustache like the shark from his book. He pulled on it a little bit, then we went back to reading about the shark with the false moustache.

Lily came back from a weeklong business trip, and she asked if I was growing a moustache. Here I was thinking that I had already grown the moustache, but apparently not quite there yet according to the wifey. Or the kid. So I told her the deal about Movember and how it's for a good cause, yada yada yada. She said "I don't like it. Can you shave it off?" But Movember wasn't over yet. November wasn't over yet. But, but...

But here was my out. My perfect excuse to end the itchyness. Can't really have the wife's face gettin all scratched up every time I try to smooch on her, can I? If the missuz says it's gotta go, then it's gotta go. And now it's gone, and so is the itch. I shaved it while Lily and Judah were out to soccer practice, so they'd be surprised when they came back. That night while reading bedtime stories, Judah asked why I shaved my moustache. I told him that it was too itchy. Funny thing is, after Lily asked me to shave it, she hasn't said anything about it. I wonder if she noticed. Still waiting...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Time This Time

I've noticed a surge in the amount of inadvertent e-mails lately. So many that instead of just trashing them, I'm taking the time to write back to these folks and telling them "unintended recipient" or something along those lines, so the mailbox won't fill up so fast.

But yesterday the e-mailbox really got inundated with some seriously inadvertent e-mails. Within a span of 20 minutes, somebody named Leroy signed up for Cybererotica, RealNude GFs (whatever nudie thing GF means), Total DVD pass (family-oriented DVDs I'm guessing, based on the company these registration e-mails kept), and Raunchy GF (there's that GF thing again). The funny thing was that these registration e-mails were arriving at around 9 am. Bad case of Morning Wood? Maybe?

On the other end of the spectrum, somebody named Laura was supposed to receive this e-mail:

Hey Laura,
I haven't been on my other email, xocuppiecake21, in so long that I can't remember the password to log in! haha
So I just created this account, can you send the slides to this one? And I will be sending you my slides soon, I am just finishing up!
For the vocab. slides if you don't think some of the words are neccessary you can just delete them, but let me know cuz I'll take them out of the crossword puzzle.
And should I just print out like 30 copies of the puzzle or something cuz I think we were supposed to have her copy them in advance, but I just remembered that now
Thanks!!


xocuppiecake 21 is really jazzed about crossword puzzles I guess. Perhaps I'll hook Leroy and Laura up and see what kinds of crosswords they can come up with.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Date With Ikea

With Judah's school closed and my freelance work flow screeching to an sudden halt, I decided to make use of our downtime by shopping for some furniture. And maybe chow down on some Swedish meatballs.

Geographically we live equal distances from two Ikeas, one in Burbank and one in Carson, so I let the traffic map be our guide. Yep, 405 North is a parking lot. Carson it is. A short while later we found ourselves in the Ikea cafeteria scarfing down a breakfast of scrambled eggs, potato wedges and the most thinly sliced bacon ever. Or maybe it was just me doing the scarfing. Judah was busy playing at some kid germ-catcher kiosk. Then it was off to the showroom.

I tried to restrain myself from buying a bunch of useless particle-board crap, but I quickly realized that was the whole reason I was inside an Ikea in the first place. We picked up a sturdy bed for Judah to replace that ridiculously expensive bed with ridiculously shabby construction that we had returned a while back.

And Lily wanted a small-ish cabinet thingy that could house some of the boxes of jewelry and trinkets that were amassing in our bedroom. I grabbed a bunch of other stuff along the way like a few lamps and a new nightstand for myself.

I always seem to forget about one major component of any trip to Ikea - the interactive part when you get home. The part where you, the consumer, get to assemble your furniture. The part where you spend a lot longer than you imagine it would take. Add to the mix a 3-year-old boy trying to hammer any piece he can get his hands on, plus a 1-year-old girl trying to eat those Ikea wooden plug connectors, and it takes that much longer to fend them off while trying to assemble your furniture. The kiddies won the battle, and I left the construction for another day. Or two. Or three.

Naturally, Lily's semi-constructed cabinet was scattered in pieces around our bedroom until I could gather some time without munchkins around to put the rest of it together. A few nights later I entered the room in the dark only to stub my toe on the cabinet skeleton. That was when I found the motivation needed to complete the job.

It was going rather quickly once I enlisted the help of my drill to drive in the screws. I even let Judah hammer in some of the connecting pieces. The only thing left to do was the bottom of one of the drawers. In my haste, I picked up the thin piece of wood/particle-board junk and wound up scraping my forehead with the corner. Ouch. Now I had a reminder (a huge band-aid across my forehead) to think twice about rushing off to Ikea. Except there's that EFFEKTIV storage combination I wanted to buy. And the Swedish meatballs I never got last time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

99 Problems

Lately I've been using the iPhone instead of the old iPod to play music. It has a playlist that comes with iTunes that's called "Recently Added". It automatically includes whatever new music you've recently added (duh) to your music library.

And I have some new music that I want to listen to. So I go to that playlist on my phone and try to find the new music I want to listen to, and it's all jumbled! Not jumbled like gibberish that you can't read, but jumbled like the artists and songs appear to be in no discernable order. Not alphabetical by artist or song, not by date added, nuthin. Just a track here or there that has no rhyme or reason for being there, and no way to find the desired track other than scrolling through the entire list until that one comes up. It's annoying, but a minor annoyance at best.

My workaround had been to just go back and find the artist and the song I want and play it that way. That worked just fine. But being the dork that I am, I needed to find the answer to make the playlist sort correctly. And I found that answer on some random online forum. I also found that we iPhone/iPod users need a reality check for what's minor and what's devastating. The playlist thing? Probably wouldn't ever qualify as devastating. But reading some of these posts, you'd think the world was coming to an end, solely based on an incorrectly sorted song playlist. What the hell will happen to them if their hair got messed up by these gusty winds? Or god forbid a piece of debris flies into their eye. OMFG.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Moving Pictures

As reported previously in this space, on our drive to preschool every morning I try to play new music for Judah. I believe I've uncovered the prog rocker in him, because from the moment I first played "Tom Sawyer" by Rush, that's all he wants to listen to. Like for weeks now, that's all he wants to listen to. I get in the car and pull out the iPod and say "What do you want to hear today?" and the answer from the back is "Rush". And by saying "Rush" he means "Tom Sawyer".

At the end of the song, I usually try to let it carry over into Red Barchetta. But we've never made it very far into the song before he tells me he wants to hear that last song again. I love hearing that very first sound in Tom Sawyer, but after a while of repeated listens it begins to lose its luster. So one day I decided to skip over Red Barchetta into YYZ. Now the boy rocks out in the back, literally rocking back and forth, fists pumping, copying his dad trying to air drum copy Neil Peart playing YYZ. Believe me, the translation ain't pretty, but it's cute to see the kid go off like that.

And because the repeated plays of Tom Sawyer followed by YYZ never ends in a way that coincides with our arrival at preschool, there's bound to be problems. The boy wants to hear Rush and he wants to hear an entire song. Stopping in the middle of YYZ would never do. It must resolve completely. But I've been fortunate enough to be able to reason with Judah and tell him that we'll pick it up where we left off. And he says it back to me in a very serious manner, telling me that tomorrow morning after brushing teeth and putting on sunscreen and putting on shoes and getting in the car, we'll listen to the rest of it.

So he trusts that I'll stand by my word. That is, trusted until yesterday when I got into the car and the iPod was out of juice. Lucky for me, Lily bought me one of those dock extra battery thingies where you plug it into the bottom of the iPod and it gives it new life. I plugged it into the iPod and a few seconds later the screen reappeared. I navigated to YYZ and pressed play. Judah immediately objected and stammered that it wasn't where we were supposed to be in the song. When the iPod runs out of juice, it also loses its bookmark, losing our place in the Rush tune. Judah let out a full on "noooooooooooooooooo" and started crying. That's the power of Rush.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tight N' Shiny

I let the dirt pile up on our cars for about a month. It was time for their bath. The last few trips to the local hand wash places weren't really doing the trick, so I took matters into my own hands. Problem was that Lee's car wash was always external only. So the insides of the cars were in serious need of a vacuum and a decent wipedown. In other words, time to get down to business.

The last few times I washed the cars, I let Judah in on the fun. He loved spraying the cars with the hose. But the last time he used more water spraying the driveway than the cars. So this time I waited until his nap to get started. I pulled both cars into the driveway and started spraying and sudsing up the vehicles. About mid-way through, I thought "I wonder if I'm gonna hear the obligatory crack where somebody asks if they should pull their car up next in line." And bingo, about 2 minutes later some passerby says "Should I pull my car up behind these? Heh heh!" I put on my best fake smile so's not to seem like a grump.

I brought out the dustbuster for some sand removal in the Passat. Judah likes to take his shoes off in the back seat every day after school, and the sand from the swing area gets deposited in the carpet. I have no idea how that swing area can have any sand left after every kid probably deposits the same amount of sand in the back seat of their car at the end of the day. There was so much sand cemented into the carpet that the dustbuster wasn't cuttin it, and I had to bring out the vacuum cleaner. I even Windexed the windows. I got so medieval on the cleaning detail that I used leather cleaner to try to remove some of the food smudges in the back seat.

At the end of it all, the clock showed four hours later. And Judah was up from his nap watching "The Tale of Despereaux". I did the math in my head of how much time the car wash took times the rate I normally get paid for work. Multiplied by the precious weekend time lost with my family, and it was definitely a losing venture for me to wash the cars. Three days later it rained for the first time in eight months. Point well taken.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Get Off My Cloud

We've all heard the stereotype about LA people and their cars: They get in their cars just to drive to the house next door. I always thought that was bullshit, but I've discovered that it's true.

The street parking area directly in front of my house is somehow the most popular parking space on an otherwise vacant block. For instance, my old next-door-neighbor's daughter would always park in front of my house to go to their house. Which made no sense to me, until I noticed that her path was a tiny bit easier because she could make a beeline to their door instead of having to walk through grass and around a tree. One time Lily told me she overheard this neighbor loudly complain "Dammit! Somebody parked in my spot" when there was a car parked in front of his house. Funny, it seemed like his spot was actually the area in front of my house.

And when one of the guys directly across the street got a new girlfriend, her favorite parking spot was in front of my house too. The space in front of their house was always open. But it was probably easier to walk directly from the car door than to walk around the front or the back of the car.

She'd often spend the night at his house, because her car was in the spot on my side of the street at all times. One time she must have gone on vacation with the dude, because her car was parked in the same place for about a week. One more day would make a full week and I was about to call the city to have it towed, but that day the car disappeared. Soon thereafter the guy moved out, I assume to move in with her. At least the spot in front of my house was open again.

And then recently the remaining guy across the street decided that it was too much trouble to park in his driveway, or park in front of his house, or even bother to park in a way that doesn't block my driveway, and he did this with his SUV:



Makes perfect sense. No having to pull into his driveway, it's a direct route to his front door, and no having to walk around the tree. I sent him a little friendly e-mail with this photo attached and the subject line "What's wrong with this picture?" It also asked him to be thoughtful and mindful of the fact that Lily needs to use the driveway to unload the kids, groceries, etc. He replied and apologized and said it wouldn't happen again. Now his new roommate has discovered the convenience of parking in the spot in front of my house. I think I'm just gonna start setting out orange cones in the spot when I leave for work. Or maybe just park on my lawn.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rotten Apple

I've logged plenty of time waiting at the Genius Bar in The Apple Store. If you're a regular reader of this column, you already know about the hours logged. I wonder if, through osmosis, I've attained Genius level status myself. Well this trip to the Genius Bar (abbreviated as "GB" from here forward) is directly related to a trip I made a few months ago to the GB. That initial trip was made because our "Early 2005" model Power Mac G5 - you know, the temperature-flawed model with more fans than anything else - leaked its coolant and caused the fans to blare even louder than usual.

After doing a little online research, I found that this G5 coolant leak was more than just an isolated occurrence. It was widespread enough among G5 owners to warrant some peeved Apple devotees to start posting threats for a class action lawsuit. Needless to say, someone at Apple must have read the grumblings, because when the Genius at the GB first popped open the hood on the G5, they said they'd replace the innards at no charge to me. Even after being out of warranty. 2005 is a long time ago in computer years. My G5 was back and good as new in a few days. Or so I thought.

Lily informed me that last week the computer was starting to crash regularly and the fans on the G5 were on full blast before it would crash. It sounded strangely like the problem that was fixed months ago. And upon further review, fixed just out of the 90-day guarantee on those repairs. Blast. The thing I dreaded the most was lugging around the heavy and rather unwieldy CPU to the GB.

The only appointment I could get for the next day was at The Apple Store in Manhattan Beach (instead of my usual closest Santa Monica location), but I like Manhattan Beach so I clicked "Yes I'd like to wait around in the Apple Store for an hour at least so I can get some service on my broken Apple computer". To make things more convenient, the only time available was 10:30 am. That gave me just enough time to go in to work for about 45 minutes before I'd have to leave again to get on the 405.

The next morning I unplugged all the wires from the G5, hoisted it out of its resting spot and into my much more reliable car. On the drive to school, Judah ceaselessly asked questions about why the computer was in the car. Google Maps told me it would take around 20 minutes to get to Manhattan Beach. Figure in the suggested arrival time (10 minutes early for the appointment), and I was out the door of the edit suite at 10 am sharp. Because I'd had several cups of coffee, like I always do, I thought it would probably be a good idea to take a leak before heading out on my journey. But the bathroom at work was occupied, and I wasn't about to mess with the schedule-making gods at The Apple Store.

I arrived at the Manhattan Beach Village/Mall thing with a couple minutes to spare. As I lugged the CPU out of the car, I spotted three mentally-challenged men moseying toward the same mall door as I was. I turned on the jets as best I could to pass them, and I reached the door just ahead of them in time to press the wheelchair door button with my foot. One of them appeared to be amazed with my superpowers, and he smiled and elbowed one of his cohorts.

Some sort of field trip at The Apple Store was going on. One where the teenage students all had to wear yellow t-shirts while they watched somebody in a bright orange t-shirt setting type in iWeb. I was wearing a bright orange t-shirt that day. I hadn't been briefed on the color-coordination scheme, and I just hoped nobody in a yellow t-shirt would start asking me questions. Maybe the scowl on my face would do the trick. Another person in an orange t-shirt welcomed me to the GB waiting line and asked my name, if I had an appointment, my most hated thing about PCs and people who buy them, and multiple choice questions on why I thought Bill Gates is the antichrist.

As I waited in line, I looked up on the screens above the GB for my place in the queue. My name appeared second. Oh goodie. I wouldn't be waiting long this time. 20 minutes later I found myself on the verge of joining in on the rant of a guy whose iPhone wasn't turning on, and who didn't want to wait in line four hours for non-appointment customers. I briefly considered bolting to the nearest restroom. Finally Michael called my name.

I told him this has happened before, blah blah blah, and he did the required turning on of the computer, checking the crash report, and checking the repair history. Apparently he'd heard the online grumblings about the G5 coolant thingy too, because he was very apologetic and not all high-and-mighty as some Geniuses can be. He told me straight out that there'd be no charge for the repair, and he started filling out paperwork. Nature was calling rather loudly by this point. I asked Michael where the nearest bathroom was. He told me it was between Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel, wherever that was. I told him I'd be right back, but he said he was finished with the paperwork.

He handed me a sheet of paper to sign. I did the "gotta pee now" dance while he explained the terms of the agreement, like how my computer could be erased, I shoulda backed up, yada yada gotta go pee now dude SHUT THE HELL UP! I said thanks for the help and I practically sprinted out the door with my head on a swivel looking for Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel and the space between them that held the key to an empty bladder. It was on my right, just past the group of women and their toddler kids who were about to be run over by a man ready to use the temporary insanity plea. I wove my way past them, hating all people who were stupid enough to have kids. The hallway did that Vertigo effect thing, but the men's restroom was in sight. I speed walked down to the end, briefly detoured by the hugest security guard I've ever seen. He took up at least 85% of the hallway.

I busted open the restroom door, greeted by a small room with four stalls: One was out of order with plastic draped over the urinal, the other three were in use by the three mentally-challenged men I went past on my way into the mall. Another man was already waiting, obviously in about the same pee-state I was, because he hopped around for a moment muttering something incoherent before bolting out the door. Not a good sign.

At least that meant my turn was next. And that turn was not coming quickly enough. One of the stalls kept flushing, and the sound of rushing water only made it that much worse. I tapdanced around and seriously considered using the sink as a urinal. Finally one of the guys started backing away from the urinal, and I was in there faster than he was probably comfortable with. I didn't care. I didn't have a care in the world.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Battle of Los Angeles

Sleeping's been getting better these days. Not great. Better. Better than the last 10 months of new baby-hood. And the reason it's been getting better isn't that the baby girl has been sleeping better (she hasn't), but because I'm sleeping in the office on an Aero Bed. Zzzs a plenty in the office. Far enough away to avoid hearing any 1am wakeups. Or 3 am. Or 5:30 am. Etc.

So you can imagine the wonderfully rested and refreshed state I'm in when when the soothing melodies of a harp recording emanate from my phone's alarm in the morning. Bliss. And you can also imagine the confusion, then irritation, followed by anger-ation when the very non-soothing sounds of something scratching on the roof woke me up yesterday before the harp alarm could gently lift me from my slumber.

I ripped the blankets away and stormed toward the nearest door. I took a few steps outside and scanned the roof edge. Nothing. I came back inside and headed directly for the patio door and went outside. I spotted the scratching culprit: A squirrel was gnawing on the gutters on the roof edge. When he saw me he stopped and froze, possibly thinking that if he stood still I wouldn't see him and he could get back to gutter gnawing. But I wasn't fooled. I picked up the nearest thing I could find that I could throw at him: An apple from our tree. Those apples are mealy and gross anyway. I chucked the apple at the squirrel and he ran to the other side of the roof.

A short walk around to the other side and I spotted him again, frozen in his stance. I picked up a small rock and threw it. He took off and vanished out of sight. The rock made a clinking sound wherever it tumbled down and eventually landed. Probably onto my neighbor's truck.

At least the gnawing was over, but I wouldn't be hearing the soothing sounds of the harp this morning. I made my way back onto the patio and reached for the door handle. Locked. Because I was standing there in only my boxer briefs, and the sun was already up, I thought it wasn't a good idea to hang out too long on the patio so the neighbors didn't get any funny ideas like I'm crazy and I like to throw apples at squirrels in my underwear for fun. The question was, do I knock on the window to our bedroom? That would surely wake up Lily and the baby. And that's not an option.

I went around to the side door and checked it. Open. Good thing I was in such a hurry to maim the gnawing creature that I didn't lock that first door. Disaster averted. Rumors in the neighborhood of Lee's strange behavior averted. Gotta remember to put on some clothes next time before throwing apples at squirrels.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let Me Ride

To this point in the boy Judah's life, the only wheeled mode of transportation he's had control over has been a tricycle. Sturdy, not too fast, easy for him to maneuver and control. Recently, on the second leg of our vacation, he got a taste of riding a big boy bike. It had training wheels, but he was able to sit up higher, go faster, and get the sensation of being slightly out of control again. And he loved it.

So when we got back home, Lily and I discussed fast-tracking the whole plan of getting him a big boy bike when he turned four. We searched online and found some decent bikes for kids in the 3-6 year range, but they were all fairly spendy for something he'd be destroying and growing out of soon. On a gift-buying excursion to Toys R Us, we made a detour to the bike section and had Judah try out a few. He liked one with Go Diego Go on it and the price was right, but we still weren't quite ready to pull the trigger on the purchase.

The following weekend, after a playdate at the beach in Santa Monica, Judah and I were driving home when I spotted a kid's bike just the right size for him at a yard sale. I pulled over and asked how much.
"10 dollars" the woman said.
"10 dollars?" I asked.
"10 dollars" she said holding up 10 fingers.
I got out of our car, unbuckled Judah and had him sit on the bike. Slightly big for him, and it didn't have training wheels, but I knew he'd grow into it.

"Do you want this bike?" I asked Judah.
"No" he said trying to get back into the car.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
Judah was already buckling himself into his child seat.
"It doesn't have training wheels" he replied. So cute.
"Aw, well we'll get training wheels for it!" I told him. I was obviously more excited about the bike than he was.
"Okay, I like that bike." he said.

I pulled out my wallet and looked inside. On first glance I could see I didn't have enough cash, and I counted. Nine bucks.
"I only have nine dollars" I said to the woman, holding my wallet open for her to see. "Will you take nine dollars?"
"Sure" she said and she took the money.
As I put the bike into my car, the woman said something in super-fast Spanish that I couldn't understand. The people with her laughed.

When we got home, Judah took a nap and I searched online for the best training wheels. The ones at REI seemed like they'd be sturdy, so I called to see if they had them in stock at the store in Santa Monica.

"Hi. I'm calling to see if you have kid's bike training wheels in stock" I asked over the phone.
"Kid's training wheels? Let me check. Can you hold?" said the REI salesperson.
"Thanks" I replied.
A few minutes passed, then somebody different picked up the line.
"Hi, what were you holding for?"
"Kid's bike training wheels" I said.
"Kid's training wheels? Let me check. Please hold" said the 2nd REI salesperson.

A few minutes passed, then the first REI person picked up the line.
"Hi, you were looking for kid's training wheels?"
"Yes" I said.
"Okay, I checked the computer and it says we should have some in stock but I'd have to transfer you to the bike department if you want them to see if we have any in store. Would you like me to transfer you?"
"That would be great" I replied.
"Okay, hold please" said the 1st REI salesperson.

A few minutes passed, then another different REI person picked up the line.
"Bike department"
"I wanted to see if you have kid's bike training wheels in stock" I said.
"Training wheels? Let me check. Please hold" said this different REI salesperson.
By this time Judah had woken up, and we decided to play some basketball in the driveway while the phone was on speaker.

More minutes passed, then another different REI person picked up the line.
"Hi, were you asking for kid's training wheels?"
"Yes" I said.
"Okay, I'll check. Please hold" said this REI salesperson.

(This is not an exaggeration or a stretching of the truth. If anything, more people than I'm writing about picked up and put me on hold. I can't help but think these REI kids were bored and wanted to mess with me. Or maybe there were actually 5 or 6 REI employees bumping into each other searching for training wheels in the bike department.)

Even more minutes passed, then some REI person picked up the line.
"Hi, you were the one asking about kid's training wheels?"
"Yes" I said.
"I looked for some, but we don't actually have any in the store. We usually have some, but if you want to come by in a few days we might have some. Or you could always order online."
"Thanks so much for checking" I said, and we said our goodbyes and got off the phone. Good thing I called in advance.

Judah and I drove to Toys R Us to buy training wheels. I grabbed the cheapo brand that I've seen on just about every other kid's bike, and we were about to make the most efficient toy store shopping excursion getaway in the history of children, when I was distracted by all the cool helmets for kids. In the middle of trying every single helmet on Judah's head, I noticed that there was a package of training wheels for sale that looked like a revolution in training wheel technology. They had a spring coil design that would ensure that the wheels give a little when the boy leaned one way or the other, supposedly enabling him to learn how to balance faster than regular training wheels. Slightly more expensive, but... sold.

We arrived home, and I made a beeline for the toolbox. I was determined to see the boy on the bike that afternoon. Apparently with all the new training wheel technology, they didn't make it any easier to install the damn things, but I succeeded in getting them on and soon Judah was pedaling his way around our neighborhood. It was tough to get him to put the bike away, but the upside of a big boy bike is that it makes him big boy tired, so he was feeling winded enough to save it for tomorrow.

The next day we went for a ride again, and I quickly realized I couldn't keep up unless I was on my bike too. This time a we ventured a little further out onto a bike path down Culver Blvd that's completely separated with a median from the cars whizzing by. I had one of those amazing fatherhood moments where I realize I'm witnessing something new and amazing with my son for the first time. We rode for a while. Judah and I laughed at the sight of each other riding on a bike. He chuckled and said "That's silly. My wheel is making a funny noise." I rode my bike up next to him to hear what he was talking about. As if on cue, his training wheel fell off and his bike and his body came crashing down onto the ground, only to be momentarily interrupted by his face hitting my handlebars on the way down.

Luckily he wasn't badly hurt, but I was sure he was going to cry his eyes out from the shock of the fall. But he got up like nothing happened. I saw that his left training wheel had fallen off. It was on the ground a few feet away. I tried to put it back on and realized a part was missing - the part that held the wheel on - probably from back when his wheel started making the silly noise. We walked our bikes back and forth looking for the missing piece, but we couldn't find it. We walked the bikes all the way home. I got out the toolbox again and took off the wheels and put them back into the packaging for a return.

The next day after work I walked up to the returns counter at Toys R Us. I said "I'd like to return this" and handed over the training wheel package and the receipt. The lady didn't say one word. Just reached into the register and gave me my money back. I headed straight for the cheapo training wheels and got the hell out of there.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Into the Drink

One of the first tour stops on our three week vacation was the Russian River in Sonoma, CA. It's become something of an annual trip with friends of ours. We rent a house on the river and try to get our ya-ya's out as much as possible in one week's time. This year's house came with a canoe tethered to the dock, and that became our vehicle of choice during our time there.

Inevitably with all the consumption from keg plus the attempts to kill our canned beer supply, this would lead to a drunken attempt at late night canoeing for me and the two men on the trip, Aaron and Jesse. If you haven't been in a canoe lately, they're generally built for two people, as our canoe was. Because there was three of us, and because I was the lightest of the three, I would be sitting in the middle. And being more than a bit inebriated, I knew I should be seated in a throne fit for a king. Not sitting on the floor of the canoe where my ass might get wet, not sitting on a low stool, but sitting in one of those white plastic patio chairs with a proper back to it so I could recline whilst the others paddled me around.

We propped the chair into the middle of the canoe, Aaron climbed into the back of the canoe, I sat down in the patio chair, and Jesse climbed into the front. For some reason I had a paddle, and I actually made a half-assed-fully-drunk attempt at a row before we all decided that wasn't going to fly. I made an awkward maneuver to hand the paddle back to Aaron, and succeeded in handing it off only to have the weight shift in the canoe first to the right, then to the left and tipping the canoe over and dumping the three of us into the water. We hadn't made it more than 5 feet from the dock.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the canoe capsized, but the three of us put together in that mental state didn't exactly equate to one rocket scientist. A higher center of gravity in a canoe isn't what the canoe inventors had in mind. But it was funny as hell and we laughed our asses off as we made our way back up to the house to change out of soaked clothes. And that was the end of that night.

The next morning I saw the contents of Aaron's wallet laid out on the dining room table to dry. I was relieved I didn't bring anything important down to the canoe. Or at least that's what I thought until that afternoon when I started looking for my asthma inhaler and I couldn't find it. The inability to find one's asthma inhaler always seems to trigger a minor asthma attack, or at least trick the mind into thinking it's happening. That's what happens to me at least. And it always leads to an obsessed search for it until it is found.

I vaguely recalled having the inhaler in the pocket of my jacket when the canoe capsized the night before. I could only imagine that it was at the bottom of the river. Less than 5 feet from the dock. I was going to have to dive for it, and probably cause an asthma attack in the process of holding my breath and gasping for air over and over when I came up for air. I could always buy a Primatene Mist inhaler at Safeway, but that always feels more cracked out than the prescription inhaler variety, so the diving drill seemed like the better option.

Judah's kid-sized swimming goggles came in handy for the diving experiment. Luckily it was a hot day, and I didn't mind diving in over and over. The only problem was that the water wasn't clear enough to see the bottom until I was about a foot away from it. I'd dive down, do a quick search around a small area, then I'd have to get back to the surface for a breath and another try. It must have been about 15 dives before Jesse had a brainstorm that it would be cool if we had a hose so that I could stay at the bottom and still get air from the surface.

Two minutes later I'm standing next to Jesse on the dock with the garden hose ready to jump in. We did a little breathing experiment on the dock, and it seemed like this was the ticket. I jumped in with the hose in my mouth only to realize seconds later that the volume of air coming in was much too small for anything but a panic reaction under the water. Two minutes later I'm reattaching the garden hose to its spout.

Because it was getting later and later on a Friday afternoon, one of the few remaining options for getting my inhaler back would be to call my doctor and have them call in a prescription to the local pharmacy. A few calls and I was in business. Judah and I drove down to the pharmacy, I handed over my ID, and the pharmacist said "they just called it in, it'll be ready in 15 minutes."

Judah and I walked over to Safeway to buy some Coca-Cola and kill some time. When we returned to the pharmacy, I showed my ID again, and the pharmacist told me that he couldn't fill the prescription because they didn't have the exact type of inhaler that the doctor's office had prescribed. I asked him if I could get something similar, and he said that they couldn't do that. He called Safeway to see if they had it, but they didn't. This is the point where David Banner usually turns into The Hulk and smashes everything in sight, but that never ever happens to me. A lightbulb went on over the Pharmacist's head and he realized that he had some special powers of his own, and he made a "special emergency" override and got me my medicine.

I went back to the river house with my new inhaler and a two-liter bottle of Coke. And a new puzzle for Judah to play with, which he figured out in about 5 minutes. That's the problem with puzzles: Once they're put together, the fun is over. I didn't use the new inhaler once on that trip. But the panic mode going on in the back of my mind was gone, and that's what having a security blanket is all about.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vacation

Lee Lee the Musical Bee is currently on vacation. Back next week. Or the week after at the latest! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Institutionalized

It was late afternoon at the office and I suddenly started jonesing for a Coke. I hardly ever drink Coke, but when the urge comes on it must be quenched. Being that my current workplace is extremely health-conscious, there aren't as many vending machines as you find in most offices. And the stuff the company provides for employees to drink is either protein shakes, meal replacement shakes, or purified water. You won't find anything resembling a soft drink in the refrigerator.

The producer I work with had previously tipped me off to the fact that there was a secret vending machine somewhere in the building that had soft drinks as well as high-energy drinks and bottles of Starbucks Frappuccinos inside. But when she mentioned it I wasn't having a Coke jones, so I didn't follow up on it.

One time I was walking back from the coffee machine and the receptionist asked me if I knew where the vending machine was. I wondered why someone who's supposed to know where everything is would be asking a freelancer, who usually doesn't know where anything is. I told her I thought it was nearby, and I thought I'd tag along to see where the forbidden fruit was. And to my surprise it was just on the other side of the wall of my little edit room. How convenient.

But this vending machine didn't carry any Coke, only Pepsi. I don't go for Pepsi, so the bit of information about the location of the secret vending machine was useless. That is, until the Coke jones came on and I decided to cover the entire building until I found a vending machine that carried Coke. I succeeded by finding one on the 2nd floor, and the Coke jones was on in full effect.

I reached into my wallet for some singles, but only found 20s. The machine didn't take 20s, so I went to the receptionist to see if she had change, but she didn't. So I asked some of the other edit shmoes if they had change for a 20, and one did. Minus one buck. I figured the Coke jones was worth the extra buck, so I told him he owed me one.

I made a beeline for the Coke vending machine. I attempted to feed it a dollar bill, but it wouldn't take it. I tried a different, more crispy dollar. Still not taking it. I pressed several buttons several times trying to see if I needed to do something new, but it still wouldn't take the dollar. I had no coins, so I had no other options for forcing the machine to take my buck-fifty. "Awwwww" I said, and my own voice sounded much too eerily like Homer Simpson. The Coke jones intensified. I imagined myself hurrying down to my car and screeching out of the parking garage in order to get a fix.

But I had an idea: The vending machine next to the Coke machine, which carried chips and chocolate and sweets, could act as my dollar bill changer! As I fed my second dollar in, I suddenly suspected that I'd be forced into buying a chocolate bar because it wouldn't give me coins back. But it coughed up some coins and I was back in business. My mouth watered at the renewed possibility of sucking down a cold bottle of Coca-Cola.

I turned to the Coke machine and fed in a quarter. The machine made a unexpected "clink" noise. Not a good "clink" noise like it's accepting my money, but a bad "clink" noise like my coins were going straight into the coin return slot. And they were. I grabbed more coins and tried to insert them in every conceivable angle, hoping that one way would be the answer. But there was no answer. Only an unsatisfied Coke jones.

I took the elevator back up to the 3rd floor and shuffled over to the Pepsi vending machine, hoping that some soft drink delivery stocker guy mistakenly put a Coke bottle in there. No such luck. I asked several people if they knew of any other vending machines in the building. I asked until it dawned on me that I probably looked like a crazy person to these health fanatics who drink nothing of the Cola persuasion.

The jones for Coke was not going to be satisfied with Coke. And it wouldn't be satisfied with Pepsi, but it was the closest thing. I slid my 6 quarters into the machine, pushed the buttons, and down dropped a cold bottle of Pepsi. The compartment that slides open to get the goods had the warning sign "please open bottles slowly". I attempted what I thought qualified as slowly, but apparently my judgment of slowly was impaired by the Coke jones, and the bottle ended up foaming over just enough to mandate a trip to the kitchen for paper towels. As I stood in the kitchen, I had the idea that the Pepsi might taste more like Coke if I put it in a glass with some ice. Nope. Still tasted like Pepsi. But more like a flatter version of Pepsi.

I walked back to my little edit room with my flat Pepsi in a glass with ice. After sitting there for a bit loathing the taste of Pepsi, I noticed the cap of the bottle had some numbers on the underside, like a little game where you could win a prize. And I assumed that because I kind of lost by having to drink something that wasn't real Coca-Cola, my luck might be on the upswing.

So I went to the website on the bottlecap, and saw that I could possibly win a Rock Band videogame complete with guitar, drums, keyboards, and microphone. All this for a videogame system that I don't own. But hey, I knew I was going to win. I just had to. I punched in the code and hit the "Play" button.

A video screen with four dudes who looked like washed up rockers appeared. They all moved toward me and said in unison: "The universe is indifferent to your fate. YOU LOST!" Yep. That pretty much summed it up. All I wanted was a Coke.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Going Gets Tough from the Getgo

Following up some recent posts:

- After the fiasco at two AAA offices trying to get my car's registration renewed, I went to the local DMV to take care of it. Even with no appointment and a line winding around the corner, then entire process with waiting time took 20 minutes. Guess I'll be going back to the suddenly efficient DMV for all of my auto paperwork needs.

- The newly adjusted automatic timer lights in my room went out on me three times today.

- The kid who asked to copy my entire music library was fired last week. Apparently he was using the company card for some purchases for him and his girlfriend. I guess music wasn't the only thing he was stealing.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Up All Night

Last weekend I got a cold dose of reality when Lily went on a trip for two days and left me in charge of both kids. I have a whole new level of appreciation for the daily juggling routines that single parents can pull off. Actually it wasn't insanely bad, but I certainly overestimated my ability to get the kids to bed.

We dropped Lily off at the airport, then we came home and ate dinner, which for those of us with teeth, consisted of a casserole that Lily (bless her heart) made the day before. It was quick and easy, as was Blaise's dinner: Baby food. Dinner was such a breeze that we had time to go outside and enjoy a nice summer evening chatting with the neighbors and their kids.

Soon it was time for the kiddies to go to bed, but Blaise didn't show any signs of tiredness: No yawning, no rubbing nose, no pulling ears. So I decided to let her join in on Judah's bedtime storytime. The stories went off without one peep from Blaise, but when it was lights out time for Judah, he wanted us to stay for a few minutes. I tried to tell him that I needed to put Blaise to bed, but he wasn't hearing that. He wanted us to stay, or there would be a whine-fest which would surely end in massive amounts of tears, and probably getting him all wired up and destroying any chance of chill time for dad.

He asked if Blaise could stay with him. Initially I thought it was a bad idea, but then I recalled that Lily and I were eventually going to try putting them in the same room at some point, so I thought "Why not? Why not start right now?" Judah can usually sleep through just about anything, which made it highly unlikely that he'd wake up in the middle of Blaise's routine 11 pm outburst. So I disassembled her playpen, which was in our bedroom, and moved it and reassembled it in Judah's bedroom. I put Blaise in there, and she cried for a minute, but then she crashed hard. So hard that the usual sounds that would wake her up, like talking or breathing within 5 feet of her, didn't wake her.

Judah seemed comforted by having his sister in the room next to him. I gave him his goodnight kiss, and a blow kiss, and about 500 I Love Yous and I left his room. Not a peep for 10 minutes. I peeked in and they were both sound asleep. Success. I went into the kitchen and made myself a Stoli Spritzer with a squeeze of lime, and went into the office to edit the latest and greatest Fever Ray music video.

Hours flew by. Not a sound from the kiddies. Then at 1 am all hell broke loose. Blaise cried out loudly and repeatedly, and by the time I made it to Judah's room, Judah was crying "DADDY!" Kind of like "What the hell were you thinking DADDY?!?!?!?!! GET HER OUT OF HERE NOW!!!!" I picked up Blaise and started to take her out of Judah's room, but that upset Judah something fierce. He cried like I was leaving him forever, with his sister in my arms. So I went back into his room and tried to get him to chill out, but crying was now in chain reaction mode between the two siblings. I gave up hope of getting back to the editing.

Finally I was struck by the brilliant idea of bringing the two of them to our bed to hopefully get something familiar going. What was familiar for Blaise was less familiar for Judah, so we had alternating crying going on for the next 5 hours. And when Blaise got hungry at 3 am, she realized that dad's chest isn't like mom's chest, and that wasn't going to suffice. At all. I think I got one consecutive hour of sleep that night.

Morning arrived and with daybreak came a reasonable excuse to down enough coffee to drown a horse. I was able to muster the energy to get myself and Judah dressed and ready for the drive to his school. After I dropped him off and was relieved of one child, I came back home and immediately moved Blaise's playpen back into our bedroom. The sleeping arrangement experimentation would have to wait. Blaise ate her breakfast and she landed in her nap easily. And so did I.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

The overhead lights in my current edit room are on a motion-sensor timer. The timer lasts for 15 minutes without motion in the room before it shuts the lights off. Which makes it kind of difficult to take 2 hour lunches, because anybody walking by would see that the lights are off, and that I haven't been a busy worker bee.

But besides keeping me from 2 hour lunches, the motion-sensor wasn't tuned very well. So I'd be sitting there working away like a busy bee, and apparently not moving very much while doing so, and the lights would turn off. This wouldn't be so much of a problem, because I work using a computer, and the screens are self-lit and not on any motion-sensor timer. But it was distracting to the point that it eventually became an annoyance.

I'd be sitting there working and the lights would turn off every 15 minutes or so, and I'd have to frantically wave something like my arms or a pad of paper in the air to get it to notice me. Hey, I'm still here! Not taking a 2 hour lunch! Please allow me to work in something other than darkness!

There were times that even the arm waving wouldn't do the trick, so I started throwing pens and the puck to my tablet stylus right at the sensor, until the puck landed in my eye.

Eventually the lights automatically switching off would motivate me to bring some tools from home to see if I could disconnect the motion-sensor box on the ceiling. I climbed on the desk and I got up there and unscrewed the little box only to imagine myself getting electrocuted by the obviously live wiring.

So I reconsidered, and while I was standing on the desk reconsidering, I saw the studio manager walk by my window and look in, but he kept walking by. The obvious answer finally motion-sensored the lightbulb in my head: Ask somebody in charge to tune the damn thing.

I did just that, and that afternoon a maintenance guy walked into my little edit room and said "You having a problem with the lights?" I told him what was up, and he adjusted it. Since then, the lights have only gone out on me once. Still haven't figured out how to manage the 2 hour lunch though. Damn.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fine For Now

On Tuesday I might have been having one of the best days a guy could probably have. Not really "the best", but having trucks from In-N-Out Burger come to your workplace and park there for hours giving free food out in the summer sunshine can certainly brighten up an otherwise dreary existence in an edit bay with no windows.

Mainly it was fun to just hang out with some other edit schmoes and talk about how awesome free In-N-Out was and to have lunch basking in the sunshine for a change. We liked it so much we made two lunches out of it: One at 11:30 am and one at 3 pm before the trucks pulled up stakes and hauled out of there.

To top it off, I drove down to one of my favorite coffee shops, Funnel Mill (home of the Kopi Luwak), to buy some quality beans for home consumption. And that's when I got the e-mail: Our friend Jenny contacted a group of friends from our San Francisco days to tell us that all-around quality man John Leoni a.k.a. "Johnny Cleveland" was no longer with us. Apparently he was riding his bike around his new home of Seattle when a car struck and killed him.

News of this tragic accident affected me much more profoundly than I'd expect, especially from someone I hadn't seen in years. But people like John are rare, and special. And in thinking about how rare and special he was, I realize that there are more rare and special people in my life that I should cherish before their time is up as well. So today please take a moment to think of the rare and special people in your life and cherish them. And cherish your own rare and special life too!

Rest in peace, Johnny



http://www.seattlepi.com/local/407843_obitleoni03.html

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Nothing Done

Sometime last week I glanced over my calendar and noticed that the car registration was due in a few days. Lily was so kind as to take care of what appeared to be the bulk of the heavy lifting: Getting the car smogged. Passed. Even got a discount for living nearby. The seemingly easy part was mine: Taking the paperwork to our friendly local AAA office to renew during my lunch break. I mean, why waste your life in the lines at the DMV when you can go to AAA and get it done lickety split?

I punched in the address for the Santa Monica office on my phone, and let the GPS take me there. I drove around the block and didn't see any AAA signage, so I assumed they were in some heavily populated office building, and I parked my car at a broken meter with a 99 cent store bag over it. Lucky me. I soon discovered that I wasn't so lucky, because I had incorrectly typed in the address to the building, so I was on the 2300 block instead of the 2700 block like I was supposed to be. I decided I'd do the un-LA thing and actually walk a few blocks instead of re-parking the car. Plus I didn't want to slap a gift-broken-meter in the mouth and forever ruin my parking karma.

Walking past McDonald's and Carls Jr, I was reminded that I hadn't eaten my lunch yet on my lunch break. Soon I arrived at a two-story building with lots of AAA signage on it, and I tried to walk in through the door facing the sidewalk. But I was greeted with a very-LA sign informing me that the only entrance is connected to the parking lot, where's there's lots of free parking for AAA patrons and no need for broken meters with 99 cent store bags over them. Lucky me. I walked in through the parking lot entrance and saw that there was no line. A woman waved me over to her station, and I told her I wanted to renew my registration. She informed me that the computers had been down since last Thursday (how the hell was I supposed to know that) and that I'd have to go to another office, which wasn't in walking distance from this office.

"Does that office have a parking lot?" I asked.
"Yes, there's underground parking" she replied.
"Are their computers up and running" I asked.
"Yes, they are." she replied.

I walked back to my car and past the fast-food joints again, which reminded me that my lunch hour was quickly evaporating. So when I got back to my car, I inhaled my lunch while listening to the radio of alternating stories about (a) Why the Dodgers will win the World Series this year, and (b) If recently murdered QB Steve McNair's character is ruined because he was still married and not divorced when he was found with the also-shot-to-death woman he was apparently dating. The entire time listening I regretted the fact that I should have asked the woman at AAA if the other office would be open during normal business hours.

I parked in the underground lot at AAA in West LA, and walking into this office I couldn't help but notice that there were about 10 times as many people waiting as the last office. But the line moved quickly and soon I was at the counter noticing the sign embedded in the counter that said "DMV CHARGES ARE CASH OR CHECK ONLY. NO CREDIT CARDS!" That's knowledge I could have used when I walked in. I recalled that I had about two bucks in cash in my wallet and I don't carry a checkbook anymore, but I decided to proceed anyway.

I told the AAA employee that I wanted to renew my vehicle, but I didn't have the proper forms, I only had the smog certification. She asked for the old registration, and I didn't have that either. But the smog form had the VIN on it, so we were good to go. The woman slid a clipboard with some paperwork across the desk, and she said "Our computers are halfway working today, so it might be a while." This news of course was not what I wanted to hear, and because I already spent a decent portion of my lunch hour going to the other AAA office, I wasn't about to wait to see how the computers fared. So I told her I'd just go to the DMV (How much worse could it be at the DMV?)

Muttering obscenities all the way to the car, I had about 5 minutes left in my lunch break. I wanted to get at least one thing completed during the errand run, so I drove toward the nearest branch of my bank to deposit a check. And as I turned the corner I couldn't help but notice the huge construction vehicle blocking and tearing up the entryway into the bank parking lot, and the construction worker holding a "slow" sign waving me down the street. The nearest street parking was probably the same length as my first walk from the broken meter to the first AAA building, so I decided to save it for another day. Besides, my lunch hour was up and I had to get some work done back at the office.

My work computer acted slow for the rest of the afternoon until finally the server crashed. Some days are more productive than others, I suppose. Lucky me.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie

I was minding my own business in my little edit room when a knock came on the door. People don't usually knock on the door of my little edit room, they usually bust through in a way that startles me as if I were doing something wrong in there. I need a little rearview mirror so I can see who's coming through the door right when it happens. Not that it'll keep me from being startled, but at least I'll immediately know who's busting through.

"Come in" I said while turning my chair toward the door. The door opened slowly, so I was pretty sure it wasn't anyone whose job it was to move the edit forward. It was a kid. Not a kid like a little kid, but a kid like somebody more than 10 years younger than me who dressed younger than me. And his hair was styled in a faux-hawky way that clued me in to the fact that he wasn't management.

I stood up and said "Hi", and he said "Are you Lee?", and I said "Yes" and he said "Lee with the 70 gigabyte shared iTunes music library Lee?"

I didn't really know off the top of my head how many gigabytes my iTunes library was at the moment, but seeing's how I don't ever see any other iTunes music libraries on the network called "Lee", I said "Yes, I'm that Lee." I don't know what I expected from his visit, maybe a congratulatory handshake, maybe some bowing down to the stunning number of Slayer albums that I have, or hell, I had really no idea. Until I noticed he was carrying a portable hard drive.

"Do you mind if I have some of your music?" he asked.
"Sure" I said, taking the drive. "What do you want?"
"All of it" he said, with a silly grin like that wasn't a silly answer.
"Sure" I said. I plugged the drive into my computer.
He seemed to realize that he was asking for something different than say, borrowing my bike or grabbing a couple of potato chips from my lunch plate. "You didn't buy all that music, did you?"
"No" I replied, and then I realized that probably 90% of the digital music files I have in my collection I didn't pay for.

I dragged my music folder over to his portable hard drive and told him to come back in an hour. "Thanks bro" he said, and he left and closed the door. While the media was copying, I felt like someone was stealing from me, which is ridiculous, because I simply gave him what he asked for. And then I thought about all the artists whose music I had in my possession who probably feel like people are stealing from them, which is true.

I quickly rationalized away about 40% of the music in my library, because some of it I did pay for in the form of vinyl, tape, or CD at some point in the past. And then I rationalized the rest away, coming up with the idea that he listens to my music for free on the network anyway, so what's the diff with giving it to him straight, so he can listen to it at work when my computer isn't on.

The files finished copying, and I decided to take a walk and find the kid and give him the drive. Later that afternoon I connected to his shared music library, and there I saw all of "my" music. And then I saw the light: I don't have to carry around my own portable drive anymore. I can just listen to that kid's. Sharing ain't so bad after all.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In Da Club

It's my birthday, I'm gonna party like it's my birthday.
I'm not posting this week cuz it's my birthday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Homework

Probably one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast is a plain bagel with lox. And the lox needs to have capers on top. Lots and lots of capers. Or it tastes like it's missing something. The problem with having lots and lots of capers on top of your lox on top of your plain bagel happens when you bite into it. The flat surface the capers were resting on experiences a mini-earthquake sending capers rolling down the loxscape and landing on the floor. The result is "lots and lots of capers" reduced to "a few scattered capers". Not as tasty for sure.

For years now I've tried to think of a way to keep the capers on the lox, and therefore on the bagel. Scotch tape? Pushpins? Glue? Not as tasty as the capers on their own. I've tried to push the capers down into the lox to keep them in place. I've tried taking gentler bites. But it always ended with capers on the floor instead of on my bagel where they can be gobbled up. I thought I'd surely be a rich man if I could invent a way to keep the capers in place. Or maybe not a rich man, because nobody cares enough to pay for something like a caper-on-lox adhesive. At least I'd be a happy man with a belly full of lots and lots of capers.

And because necessity is the mother of invention, I've finally discovered the trick to the caper caper. And it won't be sold in stores, because I'm so stoked to have found the answer that I'm giving it away for free. It's also free because there's nothing to pay for.

I pack a lunch every workday. One day last week we ran out of deli meats, but we had bagels and lox, so I decided to pack the ingredients for lunch at work. I sliced the bagel in half and put it in a tupperware container. I selected just the right amount of lox and put it in a tupperware container. I spooned out a hunk of cream cheese and put it in a tupperware container. I grabbed the skinny jar of capers and was about to put it into another tupperware container, but I remembered that I hate washing that pile of tupperware containers every night, so I thought I'd save one tupperware container and just put the capers in with the cream cheese.

Lunchtime rolled around, and I unpacked all the tupperware and began to assemble my lunch. When the bagel popped out of the toaster I put it on a plate and opened the tupperware container with the cream cheese and the capers. They were mixed to the point that it was no use trying to separate them, so I spread the cream cheese on the bagel with dots of capers here and there and everywhere. And I put the lox on top. Bingo! The capers were now held in place with cream cheese under a blanket of lox, so instead of capers rolling on the floor, they'd be in my belly where they belonged. Try it sometime. Bon appetit!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

If Assholes Could Fly, This Place Would Be an Airport

I came home from work the other night and Lily told me that her car wasn't in tip-top shape. As in the car was idling so low that she was worried that she and the kiddies wouldn't make it home. Can't have that. The Passat was due for a maintenance visit anyway, so I made an online appointment with the shop to give them a bunch of money. And to hopefully fix the problem.

The next morning I re-configured the kiddie seat contraptions between her car and mine, and I loaded Judah into the Passat to drive him to school. We had fun listening to Baba O'Riley three times, and I prayed that we'd arrive without a hitch. The school drop was quick, and I soon found myself waiting outside my car at the shop. I instructed the service guy to not only fix the problem, but also to perform the routine maintenance as well. I signed my name on the much-cheaper-than-final estimate and put the paperwork in my pocket.

This being a fancy shmancy dealership, they have the luxury of a shuttle that will take customers within a five mile radius of the shop. Shortly after the shuttle driver announced his departure, I piled into the back row of the minivan-sized shuttle. Two other passengers, a man and a woman - not connected in any way - sat in the middle row.

The driver asked each of us where we were headed, and we were on our way. He dropped the man in the middle row off first. "You can just pull over there by the FedEx truck in front of that parking structure on the left" the man told the driver. The FedEx truck was still maneuvering into a parking space, so the driver had to wait a bit before pulling into the parking entryway. I wondered why the guy didn't just get out on this side of the street, as it wasn't busy at all, and it forced the driver to make an awkward stop in front of a parking structure where other cars had to wait to get in. A few moments later, the driver was doing as instructed, blocking the entryway for several cars.

The man pulled open the sliding door and got out. He attempted to pull the door shut, but it was in some sort of open/stationary mode. The driver said "you have to pull it OUT". The man walked away backwards looking stunned, as if he were completely dumbfounded by the workings of doors in general. He kept walking and made no attempt to return to close the door. The three of us in the van all motioned toward the sliding door, only to be restrained by our seat belts.

"Thanks dude!" I yelled out the door as he walked away. "What a jerk!" the woman said loudly. "What a douche!" I retorted. "Douche. That's a good word" said the woman. I couldn't tell if she meant that was a good descriptor for him, or if I had in some way offended her. I opted for the former. I released myself from the bounds of my seat belt and closed the door.

The driver chose me to be the next dropoff, I assume because I was the loudest in my berating of the douche guy. Or maybe it was because the woman's stop was way further away. "You can just pull over next to that stop sign" I told him. He did, and I grabbed my backpack and the bag that contained at least six tupperware containers which collectively made up one of the most pathetic lunches in the history of the world, and I slid open the door. I hopped out.

I was determined not to pull the same bullshit as the douche guy, so I didn't let the door slide all the way to open/stationary mode. But the door started sliding back on me before I could get my backpack and lunch bag out. The door hit my arm, knocking my arm into my backpack and the backpack into the lunch bag, spilling three mini-sized tupperware containers onto the floor of the van. Maybe that douche guy knew something about sliding doors that I didn't. I quickly grabbed the containers, put them back in the bag, got my things out and slid the door closed. As I walked away, I can only imagine what the woman probably said: "What a douche."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Drop

I have a bad habit of taking off my wedding ring and playing with it. Nothing fancy, just twirling it on my desk, spinning it around pens, pencils and the stylus for my tablet. Sometimes I take it off just because wearing it doesn't allow my fingers to fly when I'm working. I suppose I don't wear it all the time like some other married men do, mainly because of the composition of the ring. It's made out of platinum, which, if you've ever held a platinum ring, you understand how heavy it is. I now realize that was probably not the best idea for something I'm hoping to wear the rest of my life. At least it reminds me of the weight of my wedding vows.

The year that Lily and I got hitched, we traveled up to Seattle for Xmas. We went to the local mall to do some last minute Xmas shopping with my then-7-year-old nephew Josh. The three of us dashed in and out of many stores hunting for last-minute bargains. Josh and I horsed around wrestling and playing tag whilst finishing our shopping. Near the end of our trip, I realized that I didn't have my wedding ring on. Like I didn't leave it at home, I lost it in one of the stores we passed through in the mall.

I had to tell Lily, and thus receive the wrath of a newlywed woman whose eternal love represented in a platinum ring was now lost in a shopping mall. After transforming my head to a cartoon horse's ass, we backtracked through the mall. I retraced my steps in a near panic, fearing what further wrath there may be left inside of Lily if I didn't find the ring. I even went so far as to ask one of the teenage clerks at the Disney store if they had found a man's wedding ring. "You lost your WEDDING RING?!?!??!!!" he asked, clearly more informed about the gravity of the matter than I was. What a dumb question to ask of a horse's ass. Okay, I felt stupid. Yes, I lost it on purpose. Carry on.

Defeated and ready to take my lashings, we headed back to the car. I decided to look in one last place, the slot in the driver's side door where you put maps, chewing gum wrappers, etc. Bingo! It seemed the ring had fallen off when I removed my gloves and put them in that door slot. The ring was now back on my finger but it didn't matter. I got the tongue lashing anway.

Did I learn my lesson? Hell no. I still play with the ring like that never happened, although now I have tiny paranoias about dropping the ring down an elevator shaft, or down a grate on the sidewalk. So I make sure not to play with the ring while walking into or out of elevators, or while strolling by sidewalk grates, or in places such as those. But my desk at work seems like a perfectly safe place to spin the ring to my heart's content. That is, safe until yesterday.

I was seated at my desk doing the old "take the ring off and place it on the end of my nose" routine, when I dropped the ring. Strangely, I didn't hear the thud of platinum hitting rug. I thought it must have landed in my lap. I stood up. Nope. I looked in the crevices of my chair. No dice. I got that sinking feeling again. I felt around in my inside jacket pocket, the fold of my shirt where it hits my expanding beltline, and my pants pockets. No ring to be found. I turned the lights up all the way. Not a ring in sight.

I moved my chair out of its place, looked under the desk, turned over my keyboard, moved my laptop computer. No ring. I felt around in my pockets again and again. I briefly considered taking my clothes off, but then I had an inkling that my producer would walk in at the moment I was taking my pants off, and I reconsidered. I stood in the center of the room, lights blaring, and I knew the ring couldn't have just disappeared. But it didn't matter. I was gonna be in serious trouble if I didn't find that ring. Plus, what if I left for the evening and the janitors vacuumed it up? Then I'd never find it.

Unfortunately this was one of the days I didn't bring my pocket-sized Maglite with me. But luckily enough I have a little firewire drive that has a flashing blue light on the end of it. So I used the drive and its light to shine around under the desk where the overhead lights didn't reach. And in the darkest corner under the desk, behind the battery backup unit, laid my ring. I slid it on and went back to work. Did I learn my lesson? Probably not. You can't expect a guy to stop playing "take the ring off and place it on the end of my nose" can you?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Fat of the Land

I hate to go on and on about my current workplace, but in my daily existence there I find more and more to go on and on about. Example:

The office is very health conscious, evidenced by the popularity of the workout facility in the center of the building, and by the existence of a beach volleyball court on the property. Breakfast is provided on Friday mornings, and the main feature of breakfast has been bagels and cream cheese. I'm told that a previous menu included bacon and eggs, but that was too unhealthy, so they opted for bagels and cream cheese. Now bagels are apparently the devil incarnate in carbs, so those are banished as well.

All that's left in the breakfast buffet now is salad, hummus, salsa and veggies such as mini-carrots, sliced green peppers, and uncooked cauliflower. Mmm. Can I have seconds? Oh, and scrambled egg whites. I can be spotted on Friday mornings shuffling away from the delectable bounty carrying a plate consisting only of a mountain of scrambled egg whites topped with salsa.

In the crusade to rid the workplace of the bad evil nasty carbohydrate, the powers that be also removed the packets of instant oatmeal. Apparently this was a popular item, because I overheard a different person whining about the lack of oats seemingly every time I went into the kitchen.

And it's not like I'm in the kitchen all day. During the course of a workday, I go into the kitchen to get exactly two cups of coffee, and milk for the cereal that I bring from home. But in these trips to the kitchen, on the day the oatmeal died, I heard several people mention that the oatmeal was gone forever. One track mind I guess.

One woman brought a packet from home, and as she prepared it, I listened to probably three different people at different times come by and say
"Where did you find that oatmeal?"
"Oh, I brought this from home."
"Aw."

With every passing vulture, her reply seemed to get more and more guarded, as if she was going to scald their faces with the hot water if they didn't back off immediately. Good thing I brought my cereal from home.



And to provide further closure on a pair of recent postings:

You Can't Always Get What You Want (May 7)
When the appliance repair guy re-sent the new part, I received the box and didn't open it for two weeks. When I finally opened it, it was the wrong part. They sent part #3, a much heavier, bigger component to the dishwasher door than the little jellybean-sized part #1A I requested. I e-mailed the guy about it, and he offered to send a refund. Maybe he's tired of the back and forth.

Thievery Corporation (April 23)
My stolen pen magically appeared back in my edit suite. The joy lasted about 2 days when the pen was stolen again.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Merry-Go-Round

The ABC song blaring over the car stereo had grown old. So did B-I-N-G-O. As well as "Wheels on the Bus". And after we had burned many many miles listening to the entire Yo Gabba Gabba album, I knew it was time to break out some real music for Judah.

I began his musical journey in what seemed like a safe place for children: The Beatles. Not that I thought that their psychedelic era was appropriate for kids, but I just don't own any early-moptop-stage Beatles. Revolver seemed like a safe bet. Plus it has "Yellow Submarine" on it, and they already sing that song plenty at his preschool. But all we ended up listening to was the Yellow Submarine song, because toward the end of the song, I'd hear one word spoken from the back seat: "Again."

I moved on to Rubber Soul and discovered that Judah didn't like "Drive My Car" as much as I thought he would, and I was surprised that he liked "Michelle" more than expected. When we gave Sgt. Peppers a try, it fell flat on its face. For an album as catchy and colorful as that one, not one song was a winner in the boy's book.

The White Album fared much better, again proving that I have no idea what catches a three-year-old's fancy. I predicted "Rocky Raccoon" and "Bungalow Bill" would be hits, but he never asked for those, instead opting for "I'm So Tired" and "Julia". We oscillated between listening to "Yellow Submarine" and "Michelle" until I decided to try something else.

Next I thought I'd move onto something a bit more in line with my own musical tastes, that being Led Zeppelin. Judah showed me once more that I don't understand him, waving off my attempts at luring him into the Led Zep world with "Down By The Seaside". But once I played "Black Country Woman", there was the magic word again: "Again." By the time we made it to school that morning, he had found his sound, shouting "Louder" over and over while he nodded his head to "When the Levee Breaks". That's my boy.

That was about as far as I wanted to push the rock on him, but a few days later he was in the bathtub and I was singing the chorus to "Merry-Go-Round" from Motley Crue's first album. He asked "What's that song?", and being the repetitive chorus that it is, I sang it repeatedly, but he wanted to hear the actual song, not some lame dad singing it. I grabbed my phone and played the chorus section over the crappy speaker. "Again" he said, so I obliged. "Again".

The next morning in the car, as soon as we pulled out of the driveway he said "I wanna hear that Merry-Go-Round song again". So I played it for him and he said "louder". And when it was over he said "again". To date, the play count for Merry-Go-Round has now exceeded all other songs in my music library. Years from now, if I look in the rearview mirror and see Judah wearing a Motley Crue pentagram headband, I'll have nobody to blame but myself.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

You Can't Always Get What You Want

When I signed the towering stack of paperwork to enter into the realm of home ownership, I coincidentally left the comfy confines of irresponsibility. The thing I miss most about that world is being able to call the landlord when anything in the apartment was broken. The luxury item that I insisted on in both an apartment and now my home, was a dishwasher. And now my dishwasher was broken.

It wasn't anything major going bad like the plumbing, but the spring that holds the door shut had snapped. It's remarkable how much those springs do, because without them, the door feels like a lead weight coming down that will crash through the floor only to stop once it's reached the center of the earth. I put on my dishwasher repairman hat and did a little research. I mean, how hard can it be to replace a spring?

Several sites online had elaborate diagrams of every single piece that holds my dishwasher together. I found the correct spring (part 1 on diagram), compared sites for the lowest price, and I ordered. Several days later, I received an e-mail from the place I ordered which stated:

"Good Morning
During the process of your order we see that the item that you have purchased had a pricing error. The price has been adjusted. With your permission we can charge you the additional cost and proceed with the order. Or if wish to cancel the order at this point please respond to this email and inform that you wish to do so. I do apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your time."


I didn't feel good about these guys pulling a bait-and-switch on me, so I told them I'd like it for what they'd listed. They insisted on the price change, so I canceled my order. I went to the next vendor and bought the spring, and a few days later it arrived. I installed it easily, and we were back in dishwasher door weightlessness-world once again. All was good for about 3 days. And then Lily heard a snap while opening the dishwasher, and the door felt like a lead weight once more.

I checked the springs and they were both in good shape. It was now the little tiny jellybean-sized plastic linkage (part 1A on diagram) that had broken on one side. So back to the non-price-jacking vendor I go to buy two linkages, just in case another one broke. 5 days later a package arrives. Here's what the contents of the package looked like:








It's hard to imagine that somebody would actually package these two items together and not think they're not going to get a call back. One clearly looked used. Because of the nature of the part, it deals with springs and pressure, I couldn't trust that the part wasn't used to the extent that there wasn't already significant wear on it to the point that it would break prematurely.

So I wrote the vendor back and sent the pictures. The response was that I should trash the used part and they'd send me a new one immediately. Two days later they delivered on their promise. And now we're back in dishwasher door weightlessness-world once again. Pure bliss.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dirt

No declaration necessary, but I'm cuckoo for coffee. LOVE it. NEED it. I get headaches without it, and even if I didn't, I'd still drink it like a junkie uses heroin. Except I actually like the taste of coffee. Well I guess I have no idea what heroin tastes like, so I really don't know what I'm talking about.

The usual morning coffee routine consists of:
- setting up the coffee machine the night before, with grounds and water to brew at precisely 5 minutes before I step out of the shower
- grabbing a mug, putting sugar in, pouring coffee, adding milk
- downing the concoction, repeating until gone

I've been running that same program for years now. Except now that the morning routine includes getting the boy Judah out of bed, fed, dressed, and off to preschool, the coffee intake had to be adjusted. Two cups at home plus the one or two when I landed at the office wasn't jiving with my desire not to bug out too hard at work. So I limited the home coffee drinking to one cup, then one cup when I got to the office.

At my current gig, the worker bees are much more numerous than anywhere else I've worked. And the worker bees like to congregate in the kitchen. Navigating to the coffee is a little like getting into a subway car in The Big Apple during rush hour. There's a lot of "excuse me", "pardon me", and "comin through" goin on. Not so much that the workers want to get to the coffee, but to get to the juice bar, the refrigerator, and the sink. It's a gauntlet to run. I'm tempted to permanently relocate the coffee machine to an edge of the kitchen, but I can't imagine they'd appreciate that much coming from a freelancer. Plus the coffee rig is tethered to its spot by the water line.

And it seems like every time I manage to wrangle my way to the coffee, the carafe is empty. The carafes are metal, and heavy (heavy metal), so it feels like there's java in there at all times. But once your coffee pouring tilt gets beyond 90 degrees, you know you're shit outta luck. The coffee isn't difficult to make: You just grab a filter, open a metered packet out of the Starbucks pile and press the BREW button. I've done it enough in the past three weeks to know that it takes exactly five minutes to finish brewing, so I always set a timer to ensure that the rabid coffee drinkers don't empty out the pot before I get mine.

That's what I did this morning after I arrived at the office and discovered (the hard way) that I needed to make a fresh pot. I danced the coffee-making dance, sauntered back to my little edit bay and set the 5 minute timer. 5 minutes later, I walk out of my room and head for the kitchen.

As I approach the kitchen area, a business-suit wearing lady hurries past me and makes a beeline for the coffee. She grabs a cup and the carafe, and then her friend walks up and starts chatting her up. My caffeine addiction advised me to knock the carafe out of her hand and get what is rightfully mine, but my better judgment prevailed and I waited patiently.

She started to pour and the tilt was reaching 90 degrees. Coffee finally started pouring, but only reached about 1/4 mug capacity when the coffee ran out. What the hell happened to my coffee?!?!?!! Business suit lady continued chatting to her friend as she opened up the carafe and dumped into the sink what probably would have taken the edge off of my caffeine jones.

She chatted to her friend in what felt like slow-motion as she started the process of making the next pot, fumbling the packet, incapable of separating one filter from the rest. I envisioned knocking her out of the way to get the process going faster, but again, I can't imagine they'd appreciate that much coming from a freelancer.

I went back to my little edit bay and set the 5 minute timer. 5 minutes later, I'm drinking a cup that I thought should have tasted amazing, but instead it tasted like crap. Go figure.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thievery Corporation

I'm getting the lay of the land at my new workplace. Finding the mail room was the biggest piece of the puzzle, because that's where everything important is located. The printer, the pads of paper, the pens. I found some binders, but only those huge oversized binders that are so massive that you can't really put the thing anyplace without it seriously tanking the feng shui of any room.

But the best part was finding the shredder. Not only the shredder, but the locked garbage bin where you can just throw a bunch of documents in a slot to be shredded without actually dealing with the shredding part. I haven't had a shredder handy since my last full-time job. And those live checks I get every week from my credit card companies were piling up. Goodbye scary checks. Say hi to Mr. Shredder.

I felt pretty stocked as far as having pens and pads of paper around the edit suite to write down whatever the director had to say about the cut. Except that she kept stealing my pens. She has a tendency to watch the edit, then she'll have a flash of brilliance as to what the graphic should act like or look like, so she'll grab the nearest pen (mine) and sketch something out real quick. Which leads to her having to talk to the graphics guy, so she bolts out of the room. With my pen.

The pen theft was fine for the first time or two. Then, when I ran out of the company pens I had stocked my room with, I had to resort to grabbing a pen out of my backpack. Not that this pen was special or had any sentimental value, but it symbolized my personal property, and I wasn't going to allow my personal property to be stolen at work.

So the next time Ms. Director did the graphics-sketch-to-bolt-out-the-door hustle, she did so with my pen. I quickly spun around in my seat and said "could I have my pen back?" Apparently she had never been diagnosed with kleptomania, so she was taken by surprise that she would try to steal from me. She said sorry and gave me back my pen, then bolted out the door for a meeting with the graphics guy.

It dawned on me that the pen from my backpack wasn't going to last long unless I made some tactical maneuvers. So I quickly made my way down to the mail room. I grabbed as many pens as I could carry back to the edit suite and set them down in a place where the director couldn't see any of them. I took one of the pens and set it next to the pad of paper that she had scribbled her most recent graphic mockup. The next time she came by, it worked like a charm. After she left the room, I looked over at the pad. No more pen. I took another pen from my pile and placed it next to her scribble pad. The pen from my backpack was safe.

The pen disappearing act was working well through several director visits when the editor next door came by to talk about his most recent visit with the director. Apparently she was giving rapid-fire comments about his edit, but he couldn't take any notes because he didn't have a pen. He complained that she was walking out with his pens, just like she did with me. We laughed as we contemplated where all the pens go. Does she have a mountain of stolen pens on her desk? They have to wind up somewhere.

I told him about my little pen stockpiling routine, and he was convinced that was the way to go. He left, and soon after, the director walked in. We talked about the cut, she scribbled some graphic ideas, and I looked over and noticed that she was holding the pen from my backpack instead of the one I had positioned for her next thievery.

She told me she was going home for the day. She would have to put her dog to sleep that night, and she was gonna have to explain the whole thing to her kids, so she was leaving early. As she stood at the door saying "see you in the morning", I shot down the idea of asking for my pen back. A pen is a little insignificant compared to putting your dog down. I grabbed one of the stockpiled pens and got back to work.