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

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.