29 June 2008

*sniffs armpit*, *breathes into palm and sniffs*


You ever miss a step in your routine?

I do a number of grooming steps every day (you're welcome, world), in a certain order, including shaving my legs.

At least, I think I do.

Last Tuesday morning, I was in a meeting and I crossed my legs only to find stubble! I had missed shaving one of my calves (Is it calves? Or calfs? You know what I mean: I missed shaving a young bovine and how often do you get that kind of opportunity?)

Since I shave every day, nobody was going to notice that tiny bit of stubble and point and shout "Hey, nice head of hair on those legs!" On the other hand, I noticed it all flippin' day. One smooth leg, one stubbly leg. It was like when you bite the inside of your mouth and then your tongue develops Alzheimer's and keeps going back to that spot as if repeating, "Hey, what's this?? Oh, yeah! You bit the inside of your mouth! Man, that sucks... ...Hey, what's this??"

So now I'm paranoid. I wind up shaving my legs and then checking that I shaved my legs and then checking again as if they're suddenly not going to be shaved after I just checked two minutes ago.

It's not like I've got 426 steps to my daily ablutions. How did this happen? And if I missed that, do I sometimes forget more important things? Like brushing my teeth or applying deodorant? Is it impending senility, for real?

Gaack.

Applause, Applause


Elvira Kurt is a very funny stand up comic. If you get the chance to see her, do. In person, on Youtube, wherever.

When I found out she was coming to GWU, I got tickets. There was a choice of the 7 pm or the 10 pm show. We're old, ergo, we went to the 7 pm show Saturday night.

She was funny as were the warm-up comics: Trevor Boris, Jackie Monahan and Vidur Kapur.

Here's the thing... (by now, you know there's always a thing...)

The entire 7 pm show, and different shots of the 7 pm audience, were filmed for a special that's going to air on Logo. So, it's possible we'll be on television. That's fine. If anyone happens to get Logo (we don't) and can record it for us, that would be great.

What's less fine: They took 40 minutes to set up the audience in just the right configuration and get whatever technical difficulties they were having worked out. It's hard to feel enthusiastic and upbeat for a comedy show after that long a wait. And there were pauses in between acts while the crew reset things. The pauses were brief, but in a comedy show, timing is everything and it's really easy to lose momentum.

Also, before the show, in addition to having us clap and cheer for a couple minutes while they filmed so they could pretend the crowd went wild after the show, they filmed us giving a standing ovation. I get that "applause" signs are as old as television but a standing o? We did so much pretend cheering and clapping that my hands hurt.

When the show actually was over, the performers all came out and... we gave them a standing ovation. I'd like to think it was real but I dunno. It's possible the audience felt that this was what we'd practiced so we might as well do it again.

It made me wonder about all those times I've seen specials on television and there's a standing ovation at the end... How many were filmed before the show? How many were strongly suggested?

27 June 2008

Operators are Standing By*


The mechanic called to give me an estimate on what it's going to take to get my car healthy again so I can earn one of those fancy
pass stickers for the safety inspection. His first words: "You may want to sit down for this."** Hence...

For sale: 1 kidney.

Description: Swimming pool shaped.

Condition: In better shape than my liver. Also, never cut out of me while I was unconscious in a tub of ice.

Price: Highest bidder gets this sweet organ.

Special deal: Tell the operator that you are interested in joining our club and you'll receive a second (mystery!) body part!*** That's right, you'll automatically receive a second body part*** valued at 29.95! Don't delay!


* Why don't they let the operators sit?

** Good thing I'm not an operator.

*** Or some crappy thing I have tucked in the closet and was going to give to charity anyway.

All rights reserved. Returned body parts are subject to handling charges. 30-day money back guarantee subject to state regulations and does not cover kidneys or mystery body parts or crappy things from the closet. Kidney installation not included. Not responsible for any damage to contents during shipping.
Void in Pensacola, FL. We reserve the right to substitute an organ of equal or greater value that may, or may not, be a genuine lacochran kidney. Any resemblance of kidney/organ to a gefilte fish ball, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Actual kidney/organ/gefilte fish ball may be smaller or larger or less shiny or more fishy than pictured. Not affiliated with Kidneyrama [TM], Kidneys!Kidneys!Kidneys! [TM], or Kidneys 'R' Us [TM] or their subsidiaries. Offer valid while supplies last.

26 June 2008

I Love This Video

The story...

These people were always finding water all over their pool deck and furniture every time they came home after being away for a few hours. They thought the neighborhood kids were watching for them to leave and using the pool. However, they could never catch them doing it. So, they set up their video camera and left. Here's what they found:


video

I doubt the story is true, given, among other things, the movement of the camera but, so what? The footage is still a hoot. Is he livin' large, or what?! :) Talk about joie de vivre!

When was the last time you had that much pure fun?

I've said it before, I'll say it again: We can learn a lot from dogs.

25 June 2008

You Don't Have to Go Home But You Can't Stay Here (Restaurant Review: Indigo Landing)

Last Sunday, we gave Indigo Landing another try. This time we actually found a parking space on the first go 'round and enjoyed a 7:30 dinner. They have a nice bar overlooking the water but this was our first venture into the dining room.

Our view to the left...


straight ahead...


to the right...


Ahhhhh.

Ambiance: 25/30. Although it may not be obvious from these pictures, the restaurant is across the water from [insert name of doddering, folksy president who wasn't my grandpa] National airport and you could see the airport tower if the photo quality was better (camera phone quality leaves something to be desired). Periodically, you'd hear the planes overhead but it wasn't really intrusive. The room was pretty, too, but it's the view, with the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome in the distance and the occasional bobbing sailboat in the foreground, that continues to sell the place. People were anywhere from casual to chic in dress.

Service: 28/30. The service was pleasant, efficient and knowledgeable. We were seated promptly and given a very nice table. A question about a particular wine in comparison to others brought accurate information. (And they had a decent selection of wines, too.)

Food: 23/30. They've changed chefs. It's no longer all about low country specialty food but a nice range of options all the same. Overall, the food was certainly good without being remarkable. We tried the Grilled Garlic Naan and Homemade Hummus as an appetizer. Hubby had the Sesame Ginger Tuna and I had the Maple Lacquered Alaskan Salmon. The naan was chewy, the hummus good but could have benefited from a lift of lemon or garlic or something. Similarly, the fish was fresh and tasty but nothing outrageously fabulous. The high point of the meal came with the arrival of the bread pudding, complete with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream and bourbon sauce. Excellent!

Vegetarian Options: 5/30. Not much here for vegetarians outside of salad and the above mentioned appetizer.

Cost: 25/30. Pretty reasonable considering this town's penchant for over-inflated prices. Appetizers list for $6 to $9 and mains are mostly around $20 but you can get a sandwich for as little as $8 or a Filet Mignon for $29.

Bonus: +2 for the free parking. +3 for the bread basket because gotta give extra points to any restaurant that serves a warm assortment of breads. But keep reading...

The evening wore down and as the sun shifted, we could squint and almost pretend we were some place tropical. Ahh... Just about the time I was thinking someone ought to bring me something in a coconut,


the lights in the dining room came up full force. I joked "Last call!" and asked the waiter what was going on. He basically told me, it was, indeed, last call. The hour? 9:00. How rude! -5! No bonus for you!

Overall: 21/30.

24 June 2008

"So I got that goin' for me" --Carl Spackler

I have an old soul. At least that's what a woman told me. I asked her, "What do I do with this information?" She didn't answer.

If it's true (and how does one dispute this?) that my soul is wrinkly, crotchety, arthritic and otherwise old, how does knowing this help me? I'm not at all sure.

Questions that come to mind:

  • Does this mean my aura has colors that are no longer in vogue? I hope I'm not sporting an avocado layer.
  • Is this one of those rare instances--like wine and cheese--where old might be preferred? [feel free to insert your own oh, so funny jokes about sediment and mold here]
  • Does this mean my soul keeps coming back because I am super-together and super-evolved (Yay for my soul!) or because I can't get it right the first, second... two-hundredth time? (Mother always said I was stubborn. Gee, Mum, it's not me, it's my soul.)
  • Does this buy me any special privileges anywhere? Me, at the DMV: Can you point me to the priority "old souls" line?
It reminds me of the scene about the Dalai Lama from Caddyshack...

23 June 2008

"Why'd it have to be snakes?" --Indiana Jones


Still on the cars/karma theme, I'll share one other true, freaky vignette:

Years ago, my car was in the shop and I picked up a rental Friday morning for the weekend. I drove this econobox to work and then home Friday night, enjoying the lovely tickaticka noise the engine made. Saturday, I drove it to take care of a number of errands (hardware store, cleaners, etc.) and then decided to pick up some Chinese take out. I got my Chinese take out (Ding How in Aspen Hill--what a fun name: Ding How!!) and came back to the car to find a snake curled up, sunning itself, on the driver's seat.

Here's the extra special bit: The car was locked. All the doors were locked. I always lock car doors and I knew I'd been locking this car ever since I'd picked it up Friday morning. [Cue the creepy music and the movie voice saying "We've traced the call! The call is coming from inside the house!"] That's right folks. I'd spent some amount of time tooling around in a car with a live snake in it. I was amazingly lucky that it decided not to announce itself by slithering over my feet while I was driving!

I must have stood there looking quite shocked for I don't know how long because a man came over to me in the parking lot and said, "Are you alright?"

Me: "Look! There's a snake in my car!"

Him: "You want me to get it?"

Me: "You want to get it?? I don't know what kind of snake that is. It may not be safe."

Him: "I come from Columbia in South America! There, they have 6 foot snakes that wrap around you and squeeze! This is nothing!"

I unlocked the car. He opened the door, grabbed the snake by its head and threw it into the grass at the side of the parking lot. I thanked him profusely and offered him money but he wouldn't take it--just happy to be of help.

I called the rental company (Enterprise, I believe) and told them what happened. The response? "Must have been the last customer who had the car... thought he'd be funny."

Yeah, a riot!

PS The snake was not the source of the tickaticka noise so, at least, I got to continue enjoying that.

22 June 2008

Are you a Good Karma or a Bad Karma?

You be the judge. Was this good karma or bad karma?

Many years and a few cars ago, I drove a Dodge Intrepid. It was a metallic eggplanty-blue.

[Google search provided approximation:]


With this car, I had six accidents in the course of a year and a half. No joke. Six!

None of them were my fault.

You can get that look off your face. It's true.


I paid nothing and my insurance company kept me without raising my rates because, as I said, none of them were my fault.

The accidents ranged dramatically. Some of the more spectacular ones:

  • a Volvo station wagon hydroplaned sideways into me on Rockville Pike;
  • a muffler detached itself from the car in front of me and pounced, bobcat-like, at me on Route 70;
and my all-time favorite...
  • a tractor-trailer, that's right--an 18 wheeler, sheared off my driver's side fender while I sat on a Beltway entrance ramp at a dead stop--you should pardon the expression--waiting for an opening
Fun, right? How many people can say they've been hit by an 18-wheeler and lived to blog about it?

Boyfriend at the time: Hello?

Me: You're not going to believe this.

Boyfriend: Honey, you didn't have another accident...

Oh, but I did. I had an accident approximately every three months. It got to be a sickening joke between the two of us.

And I began to wonder what message the universe was trying to send me.

I walked away from all six accidents. I had the occasional bruise and, that freaky, shock feeling of "what just happened??" where you can't seem to get your brain to focus, and an adrenaline-induced ache like you wouldn't believe, but no real damage.

The car would go into the shop each time and piece by piece the entire frame was replaced (except the roof) 'cause danged if I didn't get hit from a different direction each time. But it was predominantly just body damage. Dramatic, ugly body damage. The car was always fixable. I'd get it back and it would look and drive like it had before.

After that year and a half period: no more accidents. Not one since then and it's been a lot of years, driving the same crazy DC area roads.

I eventually traded the Intrepid in with ~120,000 miles on it and got a reasonable amount for it.

To this day, I don't have any idea why I went through that or why I stopped going through it.

So, here's my question: Was I lucky or was I unlucky? Was this a good car or a bad car? Was the universe saving me from the morons around me or was it playing Hackey Sack with me?

I dunno. You tell me.

21 June 2008

Me and My Arrow

Look:

See it?

Neither did I.

How about now:



Still not sure?

How about we move outside the car for a better look:


Yup. That's me. Overdue for my safety inspection. Way overdue.

Oopsie!

Back when I was in the communist zone (Maryland), the state would remind me of any thing I needed to know, car-wise and law-wise. Such a considerate state. I miss my comrades.

Now that I am in the fascist dominion (Virginia), I'm on my own to keep up with the state-required safety inspection and, apparently, I lack the basic skills to check a sticker once in a while or put a reminder into my planner.

No problem, really. I've been lucky--nobody's noticed.

I take my car in for a safety inspection and...


Uh-oh.

I am unsafe!

The horror!

The shame!

Look away. I can not bare your disdain!

The mechanic hands me a post-it listing four items that need to be fixed. He says, "Don't worry, it'll only cost you another dollar."

Me: "It'll only cost a dollar to get all these things fixed?!"

He laughs: "No! It'll only cost a dollar to get it re-inspected once all these things are fixed."

Yuh. Such a relief.

20 June 2008

Oh, No, There Goes Tokyo


This is a portion of a verbatim e-mail I received at work today. I kid you not.

[organization name] is sponsoring a "Poem & Picture" Bridal Shower for Ms. [bride name]. Attending participants are asked to write/submit a poem to the bride and the bride will have to identify which guest submitted the poem. Upon completion, a picture will be taken of the bride and guest who submitted the poem.

As if bridal showers aren't lame enough we have this new level of gooey narcissism.

Pressuring people who only associate with the bride-to-be because they have to work with her into buying this wretched woman a gift and celebrating her special day--even though she won't be inviting 95% of them to her 300 person wedding--isn't enough.

I know this particular bride enough to know that she is one of the shallowest people I will ever meet. Somehow it does not surprise me that she wants people to write poems about her. Perhaps she'd like her coworkers to create a path of rose petals for her to walk on, too?

Roses are red

Showers are sappy

Your overwhelming self-involvement

Is really crappy

I'm sort of stuck after that. Anybody want to add the second verse?

Air kisses!

19 June 2008

I'm Picturing the Boss in a French Maid Outfit

[Note on The Experiment:
We have a few volunteers now which is wonderful! Nod to Gilahi for suggesting sharing the fun and to dcblogs for running with it. Anyhoo, we've already got a completed checklist on the Greenbelt, MD Co-op!! See? It really is just so easy to play. Nudgenudge.


On to today's post...]



It's been a strange week. I'm not what you'd call the center of the social scene at work (or anywhere else, to be brutally honest) so it always surprises me when people want to chat with me confidentially.

On Monday, a colleague--let's call her Midge*--puts her head in my office, then her whole body.

Midge: Hi!

Me, minimizing non-work browser window: Oh, hi, Midge.

Midge: blahblahhowyadoinblah.

Me: blahblahRedSoxblah.**

Midge, closing the door: So, you had your performance appraisal...

Me: {Uh-oh} ...Yeah...

Midge: Me, too. Mine was weird.*** Was yours weird?

Me: {Tutus? Jello?} Weird?

Midge then goes on to tell me all about her review with zero encouragement from me. She tells me about the specific feedback from the boss, how badly he handled the process, what rating she received, what bonus she received, and how she believed her rating was lower than expected because of a quota system.

Me: {Quota system?} I, uh, guess that's possible, yeah.

She goes on to complain and hint around. It's clear she wants me to not only commiserate --which I do because it costs me nothing and seems to make her feel better--but, also, to share my review details with her. Uh-uh. Name, rank, and serial number. Nothing more. I remain pleasant, sympathetic but play dumb at her witness leading.

{Insert image of calendar page fluttering away here}

On Tuesday, I walk out of a meeting and Colleague #2--let's call her Fifi Trixibelle****--says to me: I'll walk with you so we can chat.

Me: {Chat?! Do you and I chat?} Sure!

Yup, I got cornered for another 20 minute session of "let me tell you all about my performance review". Fifi, also, went into the same level of detail as Midge. Again, I commiserated and delicately avoided divulging information about my own review.

That's twice in two days!!

TMI, people!! TM freakin' I! I don't want to know this! Didn't your mother ever tell you that not everything has to be shared? No good can come of me knowing this.

Are you going to tell me your bra size next? Your credit score? How, sometimes, late at night you take out those old Tiger Beats with Kirk Cameron on the cover and cry for what might have been if he hadn't gotten all Jesus freaky and if you'd ever actually gotten a chance to meet him and if your stupidhead brother hadn't spilled Strawberry Quik***** on your hand-signed by HIM Growing Pains poster?

Not only do I not want to hear this but I am absolutely not going to tell you about any of my private stuff. It's none of your #$%@ing business! Decent people don't do that.

That's what blogs are for.



* I'd say "Not her real name" if I believed anyone thought there could be someone named Midge for real.

** I totally made that up. I never talk about the Red Sox. Insert any chitchat that meets your needs here while I'm blathering and thinking "What does she want?!"

*** She says "weird" in two syllables: wee-errd, for emphasis.

**** I get more hits searching for Fifi Trixibelle than any other keywords. I had no idea that my post about Bob Geldof would snag so much international attention (Hello, Namibia!) in search of his apparently hotsie-totsie daughter. So what's a few more hits? (Hello, Saudi Arabia!)

***** Not a euphemism. You people! *rolls eyes*

18 June 2008

He's Beautiful but I Want You to Shoot Him!


Years ago, I took a novel writing class, thinking "wouldn't it be fun to learn how to write a novel."

I was wrong.

This wasn't so much "Do this. Don't do that." which I desperately craved. This was "Try something and we'll let you know if you accidentally get it right."

This is a totally bogus approach for a beginner. You have to know something about plot arcs and pacing and tension and just a gazillion things if you are going to write a novel. You don't have to be great at them but you need to develop a fundamental understanding of at least some of these things because people are not born with this knowledge.

The first class, the instructor read a scene from a book and invited discussion on why the scene worked or didn't. She didn't weigh us down with her own opinions--god forbid! She just let the discussion flow. Then, she sent us home to write whatever we wanted. The following week we were to bring in a prescribed number of pages, with copies for each of the other participants.

From week two forward, we took turns reading aloud and being "constructively critiqued." There were actually quite a few adept writers in the group and it was a pleasure to read/hear their stuff.

Then there were folks like me.

Other participant: So this is a story about the Alamo?

Me: Yes.

Same participant: And you've got a butler as a main character?

Me: Er, yeah. Sort of a Jeeves thing... um...

Same participant, practicing their constructive critiquing skills: Interesting choice.

Me: Well, I had all this butler dialogue that I wanted to work in somehow and... is that bad? I really don't know what I'm doing.

Yet another participant: You used the word "euphonious" on page 3 to describe the sound of the cannon. Can you tell us why?

Me: I liked the sound of it. It's just one of those great sounding words. Eu-pho-ni-ous. Nice, huh?

Yet another participant: Interesting choice.

Me: Did I mention I don't know what I'm doing?

And so it went. I learned nothing except to dread the words "Interesting choice."

Well, that's not quite true. I learned one thing from the instructor. At some point she said, in response to someone else's pages, "It's like in a play... If you're going to mention the rifle above the mantle in the first act, you'd better have someone take it down and shoot someone by the third act."

This was information I could use: Don't focus on extraneous things. If you reference a gun, somebody better shoot it.

I say all this to get to my comment about last night's movie...* No worries, no real spoilers here.

So, last night we rented "Fool's Gold" because it had Matthew "I don't need an excuse to whip my shirt off" McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Hey, something for me and something for hubby. Who cares about the plot?

Except, the movie had bad guys with guns who never shot these guns at the hero. They'd tell him they were going to kill him. They'd wave the guns around. They'd hit the hero on the back of the head with a gun. They'd try to kill him in other ways but they wouldn't shoot him.

That's just wrong.

I know this for a fact because I took that class.



* See? Wasn't that a ridiculously long introduction to a minimally tangential topic? I told you I know nothing about plot arcs and pacing and all that cool stuff...

17 June 2008

I Liked Joe Isuzu Better



Note on The Experiment: We have a number of brave participants (thanks!) and welcome more! This is gonna rock! I promise you, it'll be really easy. Unless you want it to be hard, in which case, this is really gonna be one hell of a mutha, now drop and give me twenty, Maggot! Or something. We aim to please.
And now on to today's post joined already in progress...


So, you see what I mean.

*blink*

What?

Oh, fergawssake, people, keep up! Where's that rewind button... *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzip!*

I saw a television commercial about a car. In the car were "passengers" talking about the uniqueness of the car and how it is designed for efficiency due to it's ultra-cool, multi-cylindricky transformer whatnot.* And then, AND THEN, one of the "passengers" claims that this information on the car's special design is true because he "read it on a blog."

Oh, well! If he was just an actor talking about a car in a television commercial, I might be skeptical. But here is an actor talking about a car in a television commercial and referencing an unnamed blog! I not only now believe this guy, I want him to run for Congress so we can finally get some truth-telling in that space.

Cheez. I blog and I don't believe all the things I say. Curious, that some marketing genius thought this would help sell the product. Maybe it will. Not to me. But "passenger #2" has my vote for Congresscritter for sure!

So, you see what I mean.


* Have I mentioned I'm not a detail person?

The "Does Wegmans Rule?" Experiment


So, here's the thing.

Sean's Ramblings and Lacochran's Bloggery are teaming up for an experiment. And we need a few volunteers. This involves no mandatory pill popping or small cups of bodily fluids. Where we are particularly interested in getting info from the DC metro area, we will take input from all over the country or, what the heck, the world (as long as you figure out the drachma to dollar conversions, or whatever.)

Just the FAQs:

Q: What is this?

A: We're asking for volunteers (read: you) to take a simple checklist, that we will provide you, to a store, fill it out, and then send it to us at lacochran(at)hotmail.com and seanramblings(at)yahoo.com. You do not need to buy the very short list of items, just price them (pre-tax) and answer a few other non-personal questions.

Q: Why?

A: We were bored?

It's either a very scientific way to see how the glossy new Wegmans stacks up against the existing chains or it's a chance to flex your creative muscles in the short answer part of the form. Or both.

Q: What's in it for me?

A: By joining in the experiment you will get a free badge that reads: "I'm a super secret blog experiment shopper. Give me free stuff!" If you wear it (wearing it is optional), all kinds of free stuff might or might not come your way.

Q: How do I get included in this elite group?

A: Send an e-mail to either seanramblings(at)yahoo.com or lacochran(at)hotmail.com or both saying you want in. We'll send you the easy-peasy, one-page checklist (that you can print out multiple times for multiple stores) and your cool badge, which you can print, trim, and tape onto your Dukakis for president button. Hey, you weren't doing anything with it anyway. If you know what store you will likely be doing your secret shopper dealy at, let us know that, too.

Q: When do I start?

A: My, you are the eager beaver. Settle down there, Sport. There's no extra credit for enthusiasm but we do like your spunk. Wait, no bodily fluids in this experiment. Never mind. You can start once you receive your checklist and badge. Send your results to lacochran(at)hotmail.com and seanramblings(at)yahoo.com (if you send it to both of us you have a much better shot of at least one of us not losing it) no later than June 30, 2008.

Q: When will we see the results?

A: Sean and LA will pore over every tabulation and hanging chad until we have a definitive answer or we've had enough. Then we'll post the results. Also, particularly clever answers will be featured on one or both blogs.

Q: What else do I need to know?

A: Don't eat yellow snow.

16 June 2008

The Siren Song of Lunch

(Not my actual lunch box but super cool, right?)


Most work days, I pack my lunch in my cool-o insulated lunch bag thing. It's much cheaper to pack lunch than buy it and it's much easier on the waistline than waiting until you're famished and eating the first thing you see in the not so fab but extra-greasy cafeteria.

And the cafeteria is always the same experience, confusingly written in the third person:

Lacochran goes to the cafeteria, looks around. Spots the cold, greasy, congealed, spongy pizza slices that have NEVER, EVER tasted good. Thinks: That looks great! Avoids making eye contact with the cashier who is shaking her head like the person in the thriller who's desperately trying to signal the other person in the thriller that they're talking to the murderer.

Our heroine buys the pizza slice.
Dives into it immediately. Can't understand why it doesn't taste as good as it looks in her hunger-addled hallucinations. Gets queasy halfway through and EATS IT ANYWAY. Thinks: Hm, still hungry. Wonder what the cafeteria has for me?

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd, scene.

I swear, our cafeteria is the only place that can make pizza taste bad.

So I pack my lunch most days. On the one hand, there aren't a lot of surprises. On the other, since I packed it, my lunch is filled with totally awesome stuff!

So, usually, I start eating my lunch on the way in to work (~8:30) because who can resist that awesomeness? And, besides, if I'm chewing on something, I'm not shouting obscenities at the car in front of me. ('Cause it's rude to talk with your mouth full.) Hey, I do my part for world peace. Stick to vehement gesticulation, that's my motto.

Yeah, lunch rarely makes it to official "lunch time" because it's right there! So, come 12, 1, 2-ish, while others on the hall are smelling up the hall with their fancy brought-in lunches, I'm looking forlornly at my empty cool-o bag of former awesomeness. Oh, sure, I ate all that awesomeness but now it's just a distant memory.

Once, I had an office mate who was different than me. Very different. If there were free donuts that someone had offered up, we'd both get a chocolate topped donut (the BEST EVER!!) and bring them back to our desks. I'd then inhale mine. She'd park hers on a napkin for, like, hours. What was THAT??

15 June 2008

The Day They Covered Bed Side Manner, She Ditched and Went to the IHOP


Wednesday, I go to a lab to have blood drawn. Usually, this is no big deal as my veins are delightfully surfacey.* This must be "Get a Free Mojito with every lab test" Wednesday because the place is packed. I wait for an hour along with a bunch of adults and one very kvetchy toddler.

Obligatory aside: I don't understand parents that bring very young children into stressful and/or boring situations and don't think to bring a toy or book or something for the child to do. Helpful note to parents: If your child is whining, shrieking and crying and under two years old, saying "don't do that" is probably not going to stop your child from doing that.

Eventually, thankfully, I get called back.

The technician: How are you today?

Me: (I'm thinking: "Late for work" but there's no point in antagonizing the woman with the needle so I say...) Fine. How are you?

Technician: I have the dropsies today! *chuckle*

There are lots of things you don't want to hear from the person about to stab you with a needle. Right up there is "I have the dropsies today!" Even if it's true, this is not the kind of information the patient wants to be let in on.

She manages to get the blood but it is apparently touch and go there for a while. She's put the needle in and...

Technician: Hm, what's with this thing?

Me, averting my eyes: Having trouble?

Technician: For some reason... it doesn't seem to want to... hm...

Me: Is there something you need me to do?

Technician: No, no! You're fine. It's just...

Me: ...

Technician: ...

Me: Not working?

Technician: There it goes!!

Me: Okay.

Technician: It didn't want to go. But we got it.

Me: Okay, um, thanks.

Note to technicians: You do not need to share every thought that pops into your head. In fact, please don't.

* Note to self: Should I submit this fact to my alumni newsletter?

13 June 2008

Are We Talking Hairless Cat Ugly?



We were with friends in Frederick, MD a while back and we decided to stroll along the street and enjoy the shops. As we passed some outdoor brunchers, we noticed a stroller positioned with its grumpy baby facing us.

Friend: "That baby looks just like Winston Churchill!"

Baby's parents: *GLARE*

Friend's wife: "Shhhh!"

Friend, getting louder: "But he does! He looks just like Winston Churchill!!"

Baby's parents now *SHOOTING DAGGERS* while the rest of us drag our friend away.

In his defense, the baby did look just like Winston Churchill and not even Winston Churchill in a complimentary shot, like the one above. Not all babies look like Winston Churchill but this one sure did.

I share with you this true story, Gentle Reader, to get to today's question:

How ugly does a baby have to be before you can comment on it?

12 June 2008

To-MAY-to

(A picture of someone refusing to be intimidated by an angry tomato. "Go! Angry Tomato!")


Sigh. I love tomatoes. Love 'em. And now I have to eye them suspiciously. Thanks, Salmonella! Thanks, a lot. You have to spoil it for everyone, don't you? Do you stick your gum under the metro seats, too??

How cooked is cooked enough?? Do I have to worry about my new jar of cocktail sauce which contains tomato products? How long will I have the song from "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" running through my head? AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGGGGGG!

Thank god for the little cherry and pear tomatoes. NOMNOMNOM.

11 June 2008

Not Everybody Hates the Heat

Check it! We have the happiest hydrangea of all time and space! Glorious!



Speaking of plants, I have this plant (as one of three) in my office:


It periodically has these funky, alien, waxy feeling, star cluster blooms:



I like them but I think they may be eating my brain. I don't know how else to explain the work I've been producing lately.

It's totally worth losing brain matter for a really cool looking alien plant, right? So, I guess I should say: I like them and I think they may be eating my brain.

10 June 2008

Most Likely to Embarrass Herself in an Alumni Newsletter



It's my fault. I told the pathetic telemarketing dweeb that I didn't want to be pitched over the phone and that he could send me something in the mail.

Is there anything more self-absorbed, as in of the people, by the people, for the people--and for no one else, than an alumni newsletter? It features pages and pages of entries like this:

"Binky Greensnod, MBA '92, was elected part-time, co-treasurer of the Chantilly, VA, chapter of Fliners, Nippal, and Sperkus. Binky looks forward to many rewarding years with the association."

Who cares?!

The fact that Binky felt it was important to submit this bit of braggadocio to the alumni association's newsletter only speaks to the sadness that is Binky Greensnod and her ilk.

Binky, if you're out there, I'm begging you: Get help now!

09 June 2008

If It's Tuesday Before 3, Call Me on My Work Cell But If It's...



People say to me "Why didn't you call me on my [insert something other than what I called] phone?"

Because, I didn't consult my ever-changing, handy dandy guide of which phone to call you on at what time on what day with auto-moon phase adjustment.

Apparently, it is not enough that I called and left a message on one of your phones. What was I thinking?

Is it now my responsibility to remember that this is the day you prefer me to call you on your
[work/
home/
cell/
work cell/
skype/
partner's/
nanny's/
taigan's-rhinestone-collar-with-matching-time-life-headset]
phone?

Get Over Yourself.

08 June 2008

Inappropriate Poke


Despite the Wegmania (Catch it!) now all around us, Sunday, we go the the newer Shopper's in the neighborhood for our weekly groceries. It is pleasant and bright, carries 95% of what we want, is cheaper than the Giant, much less Wegman's, and does not suffer from Opening Day crowds. Besides, I always felt sorry for the Wegmans. They never looked happy.

We bring our cart of stuff to the checkout. We notice two men come up and instead of getting in line behind us they hover next to our cart. This is strange. They are speaking to each other but not in English. This part is not strange.

Still, they hover to the left of our cart. We, being worldly wise, understand that different cultures have different ideas about personal space, queuing, etc. Hubby and I look at each other. We look at them. They wander away and I think this is the end of it.

This is when it happens.

Hubby is on my right. I feel a poke on my left side, or more accurately IN my left side. I do a weirded-out-cat-sideways-jump. (If you've ever owned a cat, you know what I'm talking about.) One of the two men from earlier is back and has just poked me. He retrieves a beer cube that is sitting under the end of the check-out belt and off he goes without so much as an "excuse me".

Now I get that there are much worse places he could have poked me.

But I gotta ask: Why did he poke me in the side? Why not tap my shoulder or arm? Or, if he's gotta poke me somewhere, since he's now coming up from behind me, why not poke me in the back?

Is this a cultural thing? Are there places where it is the norm to poke strangers in the side when you want their attention/want them to move?

I've never been inappropriately poked by a stranger before and I don't mind telling you, I was a little put off. I am not Pop 'N' Fresh.

And, by the way, I'm glad I'm not Pop 'N' Fresh. Aside from the weird spelling, I always thought he was one of the most annoying advertising characters ever. Then came Snuggle and I had a whole new reason to be hatin'.

Like A Strange Toy on Patrol

Snippets of Saturday...

We move about in the swelter Saturday, metro-ing down to the Eastern Market area of Capitol Hill to use the last tickets in our season subscription to the Catalyst Theater. The Catalyst is the best deal in town, bar none, EVAH, as tickets are $10 a piece for each and every performance for live, intimate and very moving theater. This performance is no exception (Crumble/Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake--a strange, sad, uplifting, and surreal show that is beautifully performed.) The Catalyst is moving next year to the H Street corridor but keeping their "theater for all" pricing. I suggest you run to get your tickets! Season ticket holders get to pick their seats, which is cool. The Catalyst always picks unusual pieces and their set designer is masterfully ingenious with a very small space.

On the way to the metro, we hear on the radio what's going on in and around town. This is the weekend when everything is going on everywhere. No kidding. We are amazed at how much is going on simultaneously this weekend. We do not hear the end of the report--that's how much is going on--as they are still reporting when we get to the metro.

On the metro, we see a variety of folks, including massive numbers of "Race for the Cure" people with pink foam bunny ears. Oh, man. It's 115 with the heat index and there's a Race for the Cure. This has disaster written all over it.

While we ride, someone gets on the train who is speaking loudly to no one and everyone. It is unclear if he is proselytizing or if he is off his meds. Or both. He keeps talking about "looking up." Are a lot of people who appear to have a tenuous grasp on reality also very religious? Maybe they are feverish in their belief? It begs the question--does the faith drive them mad or does madness drive them to faith or none of the above? No one responds to him and he moves along to another car.

We arrive 11:30--perfect timing for lunch before the matinee. We try the Starfish Cafe. It is cheerful and has good service and remarkably good "Caribbean Creole Seafood" dishes and deelish drinks. Plus, they bring wonderful hush puppies as an amuse-bouche! Truly, fantastic and reasonably priced from beginning to end.

After the show, we are walking back to the metro and we spy a metro cop on a Segway motoring down the sidewalk. He escorts us across the street and I appreciate him stopping traffic but I dunno. He just doesn't have the same authority as a horseback cop. There's something very goofy looking about a cop on a Segway to me, more like a Weeble than a cop. Here's an image I found on the Interwebs...

Does this say authority to you?

05 June 2008

Gretzkyaciousness/Dwelling on the Obvious



I know nothing about hockey. Less than nothing. I don't even know how many innings are in a hockey game. I leave stuff like that to people like Sean.

But I do know a good Zen quote when I hear it. Wayne Gretzky, a famous hockey linebacker, said:

"I skate to where I think the puck will be."

Well, of course he skates to where he thinks the puck will be. If he skated somewhere else all the time, they'd have fired him.

"Dammit, WAYNE! Put down those nachos and go get that puck!"

[Insert the jaded voice of Maria Sharapova's Pomeranian here] Yes, yes. He skates to where the puck will be.

How totally obvious, right?

And, yet, not so much.

Anybody who can skate*, can skate to where the puck is.

But, literally and figuratively, how do you skate to where the puck will be? How do you freakin' know where the puck will be?

I figure the minimal skills/knowledge involved to be Gretzkyacious are:

Physical Agility, as discussed: Gotta be able to skate, weave and duck so you don't get a stick to the head, etc.

People Skills: Gotta know what your goof-ball teammates and your wily opponents are likely to do.

Chess Skills: Gotta be able to think a few moves ahead, but without the pocket protector.

Odds Making Skills: Gotta figure out the most likely scenario at any given moment (read: like a gazillion times in a game.)

Calculus/Physics Knowledge: Gotta determine the puck trajectory and Derbler's thwak ratio.

Intuition: That Jambi feeling that lands in your gut and you just know.

So, yeah, Gretzky skated to where he thought the puck would be. But this isn't about hockey. This is about the broader application. Because a Zen quote is only truly mind-blowingly Zen if you can apply it to all aspects of life.

So, figuratively speaking, if, in your own life, you can figure out how to skate to where you think the puck will be, and do it reasonably well on a regular basis, life, in turn, will be all cheese danish and Prosecco (read: a very good thing.)

That's all you need to do. Skate to where you think the puck will be.

How totally obvious, right?

So, um, good luck with that.



* This would include me if I didn't have ankles as sturdy as cottage cheese.

"It Could be a Tumor" --Kindergarten Cop


My life, and welcome to it. I could make stuff up but what's the fun of that when I have real life moments like this...

I walk with my boss and a colleague to another building for a meeting.

Boss: What's wrong with your eye?

Me: What?

Boss: Look at her eye!!

Me: What?? What's wrong with my eye?

Colleague: Where?

Boss: Look at that! *pointing* See the red there?

Me: What?!?! What is it??!

Boss: Do you have pink eye? Is that conjunctivitis?

Me: What is he talking about??

Colleague: I guess it is a little cloudy in the corner there...

Me: Great.

We continue walking while I mentally prepare my will.*

We arrive at the building and I immediately go into the ladies room to see this horrible oozing, infected abscess** of an eye in the mirror and I see... nothing. It looks like a normal eye. Much like the other normal eye.

I come out of the ladies room.

Me: I looked in the mirror and I don't see what you're talking about.

Colleague: It must have cleared.

Boss: I guess it's nothing.

I spend the entire meeting wondering if I've got a tumor or I'm about to have a stroke or what. I suddenly think I'm feeling pressure on the eye. I wonder if it's clouding over again. I look around for confirmation but everyone is talking work and no one seems to notice my rotting eye.

This is a big deal for me. I am phobic about my eyes. I don't know why. I just hate the idea of something happening to them or even something touching them. I can not watch eye surgery, even laser eye surgery, on TV--and it's always on TV. Oh, yes, it is. When you have 500 channels at least one of them is showing eye surgery.*** It creeps me out too much. Anything eye-related creeps me out.****

Both my parents had cataract surgeries. So chances are my eyes will deteriorate similarly. Here's how I see it going down:

Future Doctor (FD): We could get rid of the cataracts with a quick surgery.

(80 year old) Me: No!

FD: But it's very simple... we just cut a flap in the eye and--

Me: LALALALALALALALA I can't hear you!!!

FD: This is ridiculous. We just give a little tug on the--

Me: LALALALALA, *grasping wildly* Who took my cane?!

My prediction: I will be even crankier as an old, blind woman. That is, if I make it through today.

*leans in*
Does this look infected to you?




* It's so hard to decide who gets my Backstreet Boys CD.

**
That one's for you, Bilbo. No thanks necessary.

*** Don't argue with me. When was the last time you checked to see what they were showing on C-Span at 3 a.m.? That's right, eye surgery on Arlen Specter.

**** I originally had this picture on this post but it creeped me out too much and I had to replace it. Now you know my weakness. I must kill you.


04 June 2008

No Means No, People




It is 7-ish last night and the phone rings. Hubby and I stare at each other. We play the "It's probably for you" game and stare some more.

I lose. (He's a first rate starer.)

I get up and answer the phone.

Me: Hello?

Pathetic Telemarketing Dweeb (PTD): Um, is this [stumbles over my name.]

Me: Who is this?

PTD: Hi! My name is Daniel and I'm calling from the GW Alumni Association--

Me: I'm going to stop you right there. I don't enjoy getting pitched over the phone. If you want to mail me something I'll consider it.

PTD: *long pause* Okay. Can I just confirm your address?

Me: Yes.

PTD: [street address]?

Me: Yes.

PTD: [city and state]?

Me: Yes.

PTD: So, what have you been doing since you graduated from G--

Me: *CLICK*

Yeah, that's what I want to do. Spend my dinner hour "catching up" with some 21 year old stranger that is trying to pay off his "work study" hours by pestering people over the telephone to give to the alumni association of one of the most expensive/wealthiest colleges in the country.*

Chyeah.

And before you get all "poor guy's just trying to do a job" on me, let me clue you in. I did him a favor. I've done telemarketing.** No matter what your supervisor says about staying on script, you learn two rules very quickly:

1) Figure out who you have zero chance with and end the call as quickly as possible so you can move on to someone who might give you a chance and allow you to earn your commission.

2) Don't ignore the mark. You never, ever, ever close by ignoring the mark.



* You'd think I'd be grateful for the fact that I got that spiffin' degree compliments of my employer. Well, I am. To my employer.

** Name a sucky job, chances are I've done it. Hey, a buck's a buck.


But does PCH really, REALLY like me?


I have received the latest communique from my steady pen pal, Publishers Clearing House (cool street cred nickname: PCH).*

But, uh, oh--look there-- on the conveniently supplied return envelope (see, PCH does still care!) there's a little pop quiz! I must decide and check a box. But which one to choose? Damn, these mind games!

"Yes, I want to be the $25,000.00 winner."
or
"No, I have no desire to be a winner."

Trick question! The answers don't balance.

Like choosing between:
Yes, I want a one-year subscription to Infected Sores Monthly.
or
No, I've no interest in breathing.

There's just no way to answer that. One year would never be enough!

It would be different if the second option said "No, I don't want to be the $25,000.00 winner." I could live with not winning the $25K.

But to have no desire to be a winner at all? That's kinda sad.

I fear if I check that box, I will instantly become one of those white trash harpies with a beehive hairdo, cat glasses, and a Camel Light dangling with an inch of ash still attached, who is bedecked in a torn Old Navy t-shirt, Kmart "Juicy" sweatpants and dirty slippers, who hangs out at the liquor store playing and losing Keno. Over and over again.

But if I acknowledge that I want the $25K, does this mean my whole relationship with PCH was only about the money???

ARGGGG!

Some days, I so just want to walk away. But I know, deep down, I can't. PCH may not be ready to go public but I know ours is a forever love.


* PCH ignores my pleas to get back together and keeps it at a casual level. I'm all like "We had good times..." And PCH is all like "It's all about the magazines, Baby." And I'm all like "Come on..." *wink* and PCH is all like "Now, you're just grossing me out."


03 June 2008

Don't Let This Happen to You (Water Trikes)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kelsey Grammer, best known from his long-running sitcom "Frasier," suffered a mild heart attack during the weekend in Hawaii, three weeks after his latest show was canceled, his publicist said on Monday.

Grammer, 53, experienced chest pains on Saturday morning while paddle-boarding with his wife, Camille, off the Kona coast of Hawaii's Big Island, where they have a second home, spokesman Stan Rosenfield told Reuters.


When I first read the news (faithfully reprinted above) I thought it said he's had a heart attack while paddle boating. And I thought, well no wonder! Paddle boating is hard! The only thing harder than paddle boating is riding one of those water trikes. Ever paddle one of those water trikes? Don't let the bikini clad girls fool you. They are standing in front of the machine from hell.


Oh, sure, it LOOKS like a kid's tricycle and you used to tool around on one of those all day long so this should be no big deal, right? You confidently go down to the Watersports people at the resort and you and your partner in fun say you want to take a trike out. They say Sure!! and off you go, wondering what joke somebody just told because the Watersports people are doubled over laughing behind you. They can not breathe they are laughing so hard. And you think Charming locals! So lighthearted and joyful!

You get the trike into the water and scramble up into the seat. You and your partner then spend 45 minutes swearing at each other as the trike only goes in one direction: out to sea and to the right--always to the right--no matter what you do. Your calves are burning and you accuse your partner of not really paddling and they are yelling that you are steering it wrong and you keep insisting there has to be a gear shift somewhere because the damn thing is obviously stuck in a low gear but there is no gear shift and at some point you both begin to cry and far off behind you on the receding shore you can still vaguely pick up the laughter of the Watersports people. You wonder if you will ever see them again.


02 June 2008

Can't Resist a Theme


Here, a photo of a plumber who's on top of his work.

Other crappy things... [if you're not up for negativity skip to the last paragraph]

We saw the latest Indiana Jones flick this weekend. [No real spoilers ahead.] Uccchhh. Talk about phoning it in. Where were the witty bits? Where was the clever dialogue? The only folks who delivered on this movie were the stunt and special effects people and they must have been sopping up the overtime because that's all this movie was from beginning to end. Where Cate Blanchett looked fetching in her soviet issue gray, I kept expecting her to talk about "moose and squirrel", such was her over-the-top accent. The rest, including Harry, were pretty lack-luster. And you'd think after 20 years, Indy could buy a new, non-sweat-stained shirt. I guess superheroes need their uniforms. Still, I do wish this whole movie had had more substance. There's suspending disbelief and then there's cartoonish with a capital BOINGGG!

We also took in a few floors of Artomatic. This is an interesting concept: 1,000 artists, 10 floors and heaven knows I like a free art show with multiple bars. Like I said: great concept. But you get what you pay for. This is not a juried show. It's first come, first served. There are so many people who think their creations are stellar and they are so wrong. Sorry, but SO, SO WRONG. This becomes the American Idol of Washington art, with 98% landing in the William Hung "A for effort but F for implementation" category, and I guess I get to be the mean judge because "That was ab-so-lute-ly dreadful!" There were very good artists mixed in but it was depressing how much was lousy or simply there for shock quality. Art can be shocking but just because something is shocking doesn't mean it's art.

To end on a grateful note: We got to La Tasca for tapas and vino. Lovely. Not crappy at all. They have 1/2 price bottles of wine on Sunday and we very much enjoyed the Nessa Albarino.