Thursday, November 03, 2011

Violent Femmes

I finally found the scarf I've been looking for! What do you think of it?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paranoid Android

Remember the HP Touchpad? No? It was this lesson in how not to make a tablet, then it became a lesson in how to make a tablet. Or sell a tablet at least. But what kind of a lesson in business is "sell your stuff at below cost and sell a lot of your product"? Somebody hand me my MBA right now.

I got caught up in the HP Touchpad hoopla during the fire sale a couple months back. I mean who wouldn't want a tablet for 100 bucks? If for no other reason than to hand it to the kids and keep the iPad safe. I spent every available moment that weekend refreshing the HP store page, the Radio Shack page, searching the online forums to see where anybody scored one. No luck.

The word on many a website was that if you physically went into a Best Buy store as soon as the doors opened in the morning, you'd be able to get one. So I grabbed my coffee mug on a Sunday and drove to the Culver City Best Buy in the Culver City Center shopping center, which isn't in the center of Culver City.

There was already a line of about 12 dudes all looking desperate for some hundred dollar tablet love. Right at 10 am they opened the doors, and the male horde trudged over toward the computer area only to be met by the standard Best Buy-looking manager guy waving his hands furiously at us like he was about to be stampeded. "We're all out of stock of touchpads!" he stammered, probably hoping to avoid any confrontation. The horde let out a collective groan and did a 180 back toward the front door.

On my way out I saw another group of guys heading toward the door in a rush. I hollered "they're all out of Touchpads." Another collective groan from a few of them, while one smarmy fella with smartphone in hand glanced over at me and said "I'm buying one online!" grinning from ear to ear. Yeah. Sure you are.

A few thousand clicks later at home, I managed to track down one online store on Amazon that had them in stock. "In Stock" is what it said on the Amazon storefront of an unknown shop called OnSale. I immediately bought it. I felt like I won the lottery or something. But I won a stupid little obsolete tablet. Or so I thought.

Three days later I noticed that my credit card had still not been charged. And still no confirmation letter from OnSale. After a bit of research, it became clear that many online stores that had sold the Touchpad didn't have any stock to begin with. My Touchpad stock. I received an e-mail from Amazon later that day: "Greetings from, We're writing to inform you that your order from OnSale has been canceled because the item(s) you purchased were out of stock. Please return and place your order again at a later time."

I was livid. More than a hundred dollar tablet livid. Wait, but you said it was in stock! It said it right there on your page! I did what any normal, red blooded, easily-annoyed-at-customer-service consumer with too much time on their hands would do: I wrote a letter. A letter to Amazon. A letter to OnSale. When I discovered that the parent company of OnSale is indeed MacMall, I wrote a letter to them too. And when I eventually realized I was shouting at what amounted to a brick wall, some spurned Touchpad buyer on a random forum mentioned writing a letter to the Better Business Bureau. So I did. And then I let it all go.

No HP Touchpad, no big deal. It was over. It was over until about two weeks ago when my phone rang. A representative from OnSale was calling to ask if I wanted a Touchpad. I thought it must be a scam. The representative said that OnSale had received some Touchpad inventory and was offering them at the same price as before, but only to customers who had written the Better Business Bureau. Thanks BBB! To assure me that it wasn't a scam, the guy gave me his number and extension and told me to call him back. I quickly navigated to the OnSale page and looked up their contact info. Same number.

I called him back. I gave him my credit card info. I was getting a Touchpad. He said it would be shipped in 5 business days. 5 business days later I checked the status of my order. No shipping info on the OnSale site. I checked my credit card activity. No charge for a hundred dollar tablet. It wasn't looking good. A few days later I called OnSale.

The man on the phone with my order information said in robotic form-letter tone: "We regret to inform you that we cannot fulfill your order because we do not have the item in stock."
"Hold up" I said. "You mean to tell me you don't have my order in stock?"
"That's correct sir."
"Wait, your company called me. I didn't place an order out of the blue. Someone called me and told me they had it in stock."
"I'm sorry sir"
"Why would someone from your company call me to tell me they had it in stock if they didn't?"
"I don't know, sir" the employee said, then continued in his form-letter tone, "Perhaps it was in stock, and your credit card information did not go through and then it was sold out."
"But wouldn't somebody call me to get that straightened out before selling my item?" I asked.
It felt like I was part of an FAQ read through.

"I'm sorry sir, but what we can do is offer you a fifty dollar store credit."
"I highly doubt that I'll be buying anything from OnSale."
"I'm sorry sir, but we can offer you hundred dollar store credit."
He was starting to sound like a computer. A not so okay computer.
I upped the ante. "How about you give me a hundred and fifty dollar store credit?"
"Please hold sir while I check with my manager"
As I waited I wondered why I was wasting my phone minutes with this nonsense. He returned.
"Sir, my manager has authorized me to send you a one-hundred dollar check."
I almost laughed at the idea of it. "You mean to tell me you're going to send me a hundred dollars. I don't know why I would believe that you're actually going to follow through with that, but yeah sure why not."
"I will make sure to follow through and get the payment processed immediately."
We said our goodbyes and he thanked me for shopping with OnSale, nevermind the fact that I hadn't actually bought anything.

100 dollars. It's coming in the mail. I know it. I can feel it. There's probably a better chance of me putting a hundred dollars under my pillow at bedtime and waking up with an HP Touchpad in its place.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Booty in the Air

2 outs bottom of the 9th inning. Full count. Pitcher Lee Lincecum wearing a Seattle Mariners hat readies to throw to Judah something-or-other from the Minnesota Twins. Lee winds up and throws a slider to Judah. Judah reaches the bat down and nails a line drive right into the crotch of the pitcher! Score! Lee collapses down to the ground in a groaning heap, as Judah takes his time trotting around the chalk-line drawn bases in the concrete, hands raised, singing "Booty in the Air! Booty in the Air!" Twins win, by a score of 1 nutsack nailing to 0. Shortly after the game, Lee announces his retirement from pitching. Not for lack of desire, but due to the increased likelihood of repetitive stress injury.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


I love dogs. Always had dogs when I was growing up. I want a dog now, so my kiddies can experience life growing up with one. But two young children seems like enough on my plate and I don't need to add a backyard full of poop to pick up constantly. Instead I have a front yard full of poop to pick up from dogs who don't belong to me. Constantly. So much so that I've become Mrs. Kravitz peering out the windows keeping an eye out for dogs scuttling their way across my lawn.

A few weeks ago I spotted one such dog sniffing around on my block without an owner attached via leash. And as expected, this chihuahua arched its back in the "drop-a-deuce" position and laid down a log right on the patch of grass just this side of my property line. I slowly crept out the front door saying "here nice doggie" trying to coax it into my grasp so I could locate the address on his tag and deliver the package that rightfully belonged to the dog's owner.

The chihuahua started growling and backing away. I kept moving forward. A chihuahua bite wasn't going to stop me from nabbing the suspect who was most likely crapping on my lawn on a regular basis. Before I knew it I was in full jogging mode trying to grab the dog. We rounded the corner, and several neighbors from adjacent streets were staring at me as if I were insane. One guy yelled "Is that your dog?" And I yelled back "No!" The chihuahua darted into an intersection narrowly missing a car, or maybe it was the other way around.

Finally the dog scampered up the walkway to a house. There were more than a few piles of chihuahua-sized droppings in the yard, so I figured it had to be his abode. "Is this where you live?" I asked the dog, who had settled down enough for me to take a look at his collar, which was adorned with the Harley-Davidson logo. The front door of the house opened, and a guy walked out who thankfully didn't look anything like the stereotype of a Harley-Davidson rider.

"Oh thanks for bringing him back!" he said. I tried to appear level-headed and composed, which was next to impossible while panting heavily after chasing a chihuahua around the neighborhood. "You should probably keep your dog on a leash... because he ran out into traffic... and almost got hit by a car.... And he also took a crap... on my lawn." The guy's friendly tone disappeared in an instant. "And? What would you like me to do about it?" Blaming the victim, I see. I told him "I'd like you to clean it up". Seemed reasonable enough. But this guy obviously didn't like to pick up dog poop even in his own yard. I told him my address, said "thanks", and walked away.

I spent the next hour looking out my window waiting for the chihuahua owner to come and get his prize. No such luck. We had to go to a kid's birthday party, but when we came back, the poop had magically disappeared. I wondered if I was being too obsessive about dogs crapping on my lawn. That is, until Lily told me a story that she was outside and saw our neighbor come barging out his door yelling "HEY!" and startling some old ladies who had neglected to notice their dog pooping on his lawn. I guess if I'm not ready for to add a pet to the mix, I can always pretend that it was our dog decorating the yard.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Critters Buggin'

Recently I was putting something away in the garage when I noticed that the little screen that covers the breezeway under my house was bent open. I didn't want some some vile varmint to crawl under my house and die, so I grabbed some wire screen that I had previously bought at The Home Depot to prevent that very possibility. I cut, twisted, pried, and finally inserted the screen into place over the old bent one. Not a perfect match, but it would do the job.

Later that night while I was retiring in the bedroom, I heard something outside that sounded like bending bending and creaking. "That little fucker" I muttered as I went to the sliding glass door to see what was undoing my fresh screen handiwork. Turned out the fucker wasn't that little. A huge raccoon, probably as wide as a pig, was pulling at the screen. I knocked loudly on the window and the raccoon startled and slowly turned to leave. I opened the door to hurry his ass up, but then I remembered those raccoons have claws and aren't afraid to use them.

The next day I remembered that the previous owners of our house had some sort of animal trap they'd left in the crawlspace. Despite the fact that the raccoon I saw was probably too wide to fit in this thing, I brought the trap over to where I'd seen the raccoon the night before. In the refrigerator there was some old marinara meat sauce that probably was beyond a date fit for human consumption. I grabbed the tupperware of the meat sauce and put inside the trap for the critter.

At around 1:10 am I was awoken in bed by the sound of a metal snap outside. I went back to sleep. About an hour later I was again awoken by a sound that I could only imagine as thin plastic tupperware being chewed into and broken. I put my pillow over my head and went back to sleep.

The next morning I grabbed the carafe of coffee, poured a cup and went outside to see what was in the trap. To my surprise it wasn't the raccoon. I don't know how I expected it to fit. It was a possum. Nice enough kid.

It hardly moved at all when I came over for a look, and it just seemed tired in general. I wasn't quite sure what the next step was, so I searched out my retired neighbor Jim who has a koi pond and therefore a raccoon problem.

Jim stands about 8 feet 11 inches and is never seen without a cigarette in hand. Jim leaned down and said "Won't take 'em" shaking his head slowly. "The city will only take a racoon, not a possum, and even then they'll charge ya for 'em. I have a guy takes 'em out to the Santa Monica mountains and sets 'em free for 75 bucks! Ya oughta let him loose." Jim took a drag on his cigarette and wandered back toward his house.

I made it back over to the trap and slowly opened one end. In retrospect I have no clue why I didn't wear gloves or try to protect myself from razor sharp teeth biting my fingers off. But the possum seemed too tired to put up much of a show of any kind. "You're free to go" I told the possum. But he didn't move. He just kind of hung there, maybe waiting for me to move away from his cage before he made a getaway attempt.

So I left for a little while and came back and he was still there, now sleeping. "You can go whenever you want" I said. "You have your walking papers." But he seemed content to stay a little longer. I opened up the other end of the trap so he could exit on either side. Still no movement. "I'm gonna leave now" I told the possum. "I hope you're gone when I come back."

Hours later I went back to look, and he had finally gone. Perhaps he needed to rest up before heading back to his burrow or whatever. I told my next door neighbors about the trapped possum, and showed them the pictures. Both husband and wife looked and said "Eww". When I mentioned that I had to let him go because the city doesn't take possums, my neighbor Kevin asked where I let him go. "I just opened the trap and let him leave." I said.
"In the backyard?" Kevin asked.
"Ewww" Kevin replied "Couldn't you have taken him to some wilderness or something? I don't want him coming back here."

Right. I set the trap out again that night hoping the possum would be dumb enough to go in again. Besides, he seemed to like it in there as long as there was food. But no luck. Fly on, possum. Fly on.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Word of Mouf

Lily and I have a little deal going with one of our neighbors where we alternate babysitting each others kids so the other couple can go out and have some fun. Nice family. The mom is British, the dad is from Atlanta. And their three-year old boy Cy wisely decided at an early age that he'd be more popular with the ladies if he sported a British accent.

Last weekend it was our turn to babysit, so we had Cy hang out at our house so he could play with our kids and get all tired and stuff and go to sleep early. But first we had to get past the dinner hurdle. Cy's parents had brought his meal over in some tupperware, therefore his dinner was ready first. He pulled up a chair at the kiddie table and started to eat like a champion. Our kids watched an episode of Backyardigans while their dinner was prepared by mom. Cy glanced over at the TV between bites.

Cy is a big Lakers fan, so I asked him who his favorite player was. Thankfully he didn't say Kobe, but chose Shannon Brown instead. I asked him what he was eating, and he looked down and said "latkes and okra".

"Is that your favorite vegetable? Okra?" I asked. Cy looked me dead in the eye, and replied in his little British accent "I don't feel like talking right now" and moved his gaze toward the TV. I probably would have told me to shut the hell up too, but it sounded so much more proper when he said it.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Boys Don't Cry

At the risk of having this space turn into a cemetery of inadvertent e-mails, here is another:

On Apr 7, 2011, at 10:18 AM, susan wrote:

Have to laugh at this. One of my claim reps and I were working late last nite and got to talking about our day. She had a really bad one and we got to talking about bible verses. Our favorites.

Told her mine: I can do all things thru christ who strengthens me.
Then she said hers was: Jesus Wept.
She said if he can cry so can I. Just hit me funny.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hey Ladies

Recently I received yet another inadvertent e-mail to my inbox. The subject line was "Girls Night Out". The thread is below:

From: Debbie
Sent: Tue, March 29, 2011 12:02:17 PM
Subject: Girls Night Out

Hey Girls....we should try to do another girls night out. Jane has a new idea or we could go back to Broken Spoke . What do you think? Thursday??? Deb

On Mar 29, 2011, at 12:43 PM, Arline wrote:

I can’t go this Thursday, but I miss seeing everyone and want to get together later.


On Mar 29, 2011, at 12:49 PM, Lee Lee the Musical Bee wrote:

I'd love to go to girls night out, but I'm not a girl and I'm not Linda.
Please to update your address book por favor. Thanks!

And I thought that was the end of it. But it wasn't. The person who the mails were intended for then chimed in:

On Mar 29, 2011, at 1:01 PM, Linda wrote:

Shoot! I'll be out if town. Thanks for thinking if me.

On Mar 29, 2011, at 4:58 PM, Amalia wrote:


So nice to hear from you. I would love to go, just let me know where.
Look forward to seeing you all.


Now fully aware that the ladies hadn't heard my request to take me off the thread, I tried a different angle:

On Mar 29, 2011, at 5:06 PM, Lee Lee the Musical Bee wrote:

Can we go here (*LLMB note: Hooters home page link) for Girls Night Out?

On Mar 29, 2011, at 5:47 PM, Linda wrote:

Ha, ha! That's good.

Girls. We need to remove that poor guy from this thread, ASAP.

Although, he sounds like fun!

And they proceeded to take me off the list, but Linda was kind enough to let me know that the link didn't offend anyone:

From: Linda
Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 5:52 PM
To: Elizabeth; Laura, Katie
Subject: Fwd: Girls Night Out

Here it is. Click on the "click" below. Funny as Hell.

From: Elizabeth
Date: March 29, 2011 5:55:29 PM
Subject: RE: Girls Night Out

That is hilarious. This is the only thing I've laughed about today -- this guy is the shit. I am going to start copying him on my emails.

And there it is. My attempt at averting inadvertent e-mails is averted.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

King of the Beach

Lily needed some time to work on her taxes, so I took the kids to the beach in beautiful Santa Monica, California. Got them all sunscreened up, grabbed the beach bag full of sand toys, and threw on my beach shoes - some ratty old Puma slip-ons that could pass for homeless person shoes but are perfect for the beach. Juggled the kiddies out the door and into the Passat and away we went.

Funny thing about a two year old kid is that she's old enough to walk, and she's small enough to carry, but she's getting too heavy to carry. And the little girl was not about to walk the length of the beach to get to the water. So I gather her up in my left arm while carrying the beach bag of sand toys and our lunch in the other. Luckily the boy is old enough now to carry some of the gear.

We lounged around a bit digging with the shovels and buckets. We played a little frisbee and threw the football around. We went down to the water and played the "run away from the water" game, and in doing so we managed to scoop up a live hermit crab. After all the excitement, we ate some lunch and by then it was almost nap time. Time to pack everything up and get back into the car.

Nobody wants to wear shoes once their feet have been in the water. And that included all three of us. So I threw our shoes on top of the sand toys in the beach bag. As we plodded our way through the sand toward the car, a chicken wing bone flew threw the air and landed on the sand in front of us near a garbage barrel. I looked to my right and saw a sporty guy standing amongst his reclining friends, and he was holding a chicken wing. He said "I didn't do it". I said "Busted. You're holding a chicken wing." We kept on walking, and I heard him yell in our direction "I put it in the trash!" I turned and yelled "I'm not the beach police."

After making it to the car in our allotted two hours parking I loaded the kids into their seats, and the gear into the trunk of the wagon. A car pulled up and waited for our spot. I dug through the bag and found only one of my shoes. I dug around some more. I looked in the front and rear seats. But I knew the shoe was on the beach. I yelled "I lost my shoe" to the lady waiting for our spot. She gave me a smile and moved on in her parking search. I sprinted back toward the beach.

I scanned our path as I ran along the beach. I spotted the shoe up ahead in the middle of a group of guys throwing a football around. And one of the guys was the chicken wing guy. One of them overthrew the football, and as one went to get it, another picked up the shoe and threw it at somebody else. It landed on the ground. I probably wouldn't want to catch that shoe either. I yelled "That's my shoe!" The guy who threw it said "sorry dude" as I picked it up and ran back toward the car. I turned and yelled "But that was a solid throw." Better than the chicken wing throw for sure.