Monday, October 30, 2006

Bring Yourself To Work Day

I loved this. This whole article is just hysterical. And I did enough writing of my own today that I can just relax and pass on someone else's work.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

As If I Had the Time

For anyone contemplating using Cheap BEWARE (I jsut sent this to them, and now I send it to the world):

Dear Cheap Tickets Customer Service,

I have had the worst customer service experience in my life this afternoon with cheap At this point not only would I NOT recommend cheap tickets-regular or gold--to anyone, but I would go out of my way to steer people away from you.

In brief, I tried to change an existing reservation online and got the message it couldn't be changed online. So I called the customer service number. It took forever to get through the automated prompt system as the speech recognition program did not understand me. Finally I got to Mike Young who told me I couldn't change my cheap tickets reservation without upgrading to gold membership because cheap tickets was no longer changing reservations over the phone. The call was recorded so you can check the veracity of my statements. So I asked could I change an existing cheap tickets reservation through the gold service reservations if I upgraded and he said YES.

So I bought a membership--which I am canceling right now and burning in effigy. I then called the reservation number (800-211-4771) he gave me and went through another phone tree to an agent who asked for my (temporary) membership number and my record locator number. When she looked at the record locator she said, "Oh that looks like a cheap tickets reservation, you'll have to speak to a cheap tickets agent" and she transferred me to Tiffany.

I found out later that Tiffany was in Technical Support, not reservations or customer service, but she was nonetheless as helpful as she could be. She tried to transfer me to cheap tickets customer service and I asked her to stay with me as I had already been transferred, I was told, to cheap tickets. She stayed on hold with me FOR OVER 30 MINUTES. We never got through. She tried a couple of different numbers and people and finally got someone in cheap tickets gold reservations who said Mike Young had lied and there was NO ONE in the gold service who could help me. So not only did I waste time I do not have signing up for a service I do not need, but I NEVER WAS ABLE TO DO WHAT I NEED TO DO WHICH IS CHANGE THE RETURN ON TICKET XXXXXXXXXXXXXX*. Tiffany suggested I write you, and maybe call back to try to change the ticket tomorrow. In the meantime I have spent over AN HOUR and accomplished nothing.

Brenda Griffith

*Removed for privacy reasons

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yes Sir That's My Honda

Yesterday I had to drive up to ULine to get packing supplies for my glass studio. Before I left I blithely ordered 40 cu ft of Styrofoam peanuts (2 bags), 2 rolls of bubble wrap, about 40 cardboard boxes the smallest size being 20 X 20 X 12 assembled, and 40 frosted plastic shopping bags for the One of a Kind Show in December (my big pieces are too big for their complimentary bags).

I took the middle seats out of the car and folded the magic seat in the back into the floor before I left home to pick up my order. I sang in the car all the way to ULine (except when I was cursing moronic drivers doing 50 in the leftmost lane).

I got to ULine, I saw my order, and I thought "Wow, those rolls of bubble wrap are HUGE." I don't know what the guy who brought everything out to the van thought because he didn't say. But his eyes said I was an idiot for thinking I could get all that in a mini-van and he was resigned to having to cart half of it back into the warehouse. Hah. More fool he. I am a Master at getting everything to fit.

These pictures chronicle the unloading of the car when I got home, the putting back in of the seats, and the final transporting of the dogs and the child which was my day yesterday.

Honda should put me in an ad. Or the J and the deerhounds--they are more photogenic.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Almost Halloween!

Time to get thinking about carving that jack 'o lantern! If we had more time on our hands than we knew what to do with, we might try this radio-controlled robotic dalek (Dr. Who fans unite!). Or for the anglophobe or serious Battlestar Galactica fan, we could do the cylon jack 'o lantern. That one actually looks easy enough to do... (Dave just read that sentence and said "It looks easy enough except that you have to "bread board up" led's"... Was that even English? Do I tie them to a bread board? I didn't ask--he might have answered.)

I looked at the instructions for the dalek and said to Dave that it doesn't seem like it would last long enough to make it worth all the effort. His response? "It's gonna last forever, it's on the web!" I think he misses the point...

Now back to work, enough early morning fun!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Castrating and Branding

I have a little program that I use to track who reads my blog (generically--I am not big brother, I just know roughly where they are by IP address) and if some other page referred them to my site. Today I saw that I had a visitor from Switzerland who came and read my post on Der Struwwelpeter. This is only moderately interesting--there are many reasons someone from a German speaking country would come to my post with a German title. But, Gentle Reader, the actuality was much weirder.

Ren posted awhile ago about web searches that lead to blogs, and this person from Switzerland got to my blog by doing a search on "Castrating + Branding". I ran the same search, and, oh my. Let's just say it's not all about cattle. There is some strange folk out there.

Saturday Morning in the Life

A quick post and then down to the studio. The post is mostly an excuse to post this pic of Dave and the J looking at Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure on Dave's MacBook. Dave wanted to find a quote to play for me as I just finally got through the Van Halen version of "You Really Got Me" on Hard in the Guitar Hero II demo disk Dave brought home last week.

We had Keith over last night and he immediately played all the songs on expert. We all commiserated with him: When it comes out next month, Keith will not get his money's worth because he will go straight to expert, skipping easy, medium, and hard modes. While I was uploading the pics I found this one of Mike, J and Keith from an evening earlier this month when we had M & K over for dinner. I think it was Thai take-out that night too (the same as last night).

Now Dave and J are off to the farmer's market to buy a couple of pumpkins and I am going to get dressed and head to the studio. It's already been a long morning. Baxter had to go out at 3:30 am. It took me till 5:00 to get back to sleep. Then J came in at 6:00 and Jester had to go out. Dave let him (and Baxter) out (again). J went back to her room and came back at 7:30. Then she let Jester and Baxter back in at 8:00 and found the mess in the livingroom. I got up and cleaned up the mess and have been up ever since. Jester won't leave the carpet except to out the door so there was a big mess (big dog = big mess) on the Persian. Why he couldn't have asked to go out BEFORE making the mess I will never know.

And now, off to work. Miles to go before I sleep. (Of course the dogs are having no problem sleeping...)

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Frustration. I had two paragraphs written, and firefox "unexpectedly quit". So I start again...

Yesterday morning I got up at 3:50 am and was on the road to Asheville North Carolina by 4:30. It was the first roadtrip in the new car. A couple of months ago, after I hit a road alligator (the peeled off retread from a semi) on the way to Philadelphia, we traded in our grey Honda Odyssey minivan for a new midnight blue one. I didn't write about it because, well, it's a minivan. How excited can you get? I see now I was wrong and it is time to wax rhapsodic.

4:30 in the morning is a dark time. BB (Before Book), I never got up that early unless I had to catch a plane and I HATED it when I did. Now I get up regularly and willingly at O'Dark Thirty, and I find I have an affinity for the early quiet and lack of light. When I set out yesterday there was a half moon in a clear bright sky. The moon kept me company on my drive through the (applicably named) moonroof on the minivan. Now when we got it I snorted loudly when informed it had a moonroof. Yeah, I had a moonroof in my Accord LXi many moons (hah! such a punster) ago, but in a minivan?!? C'mon! I am here to tell you that it is a cool feature no matter what kind of vehicle you have. Listening to "Gimme Shelter" and rolling through the dark, southern woods with the moon high above you is, dude, sweet!

Oh yes, and I was listening to "Gimme Shelter" directly through the Honda's sound system from the iPod connected to Honda's built-in Pod Music Link adapter. Not being a read-the-manual kind of gal, I just plugged it in and went yesterday morning and figured it out on the way. First big downside: you can't use the iPod wheel and button controls when it is plugged into the Music Link--you have to interact with it through the stereo controls (no wheel, no info on-screen, no way to do anything but go forward, go back and shuffle). This is a pain. I ended up just putting on a playlist on random shuffle before starting the car.

Today I actually read the manual, installed the software and sat in the car for an hour trying it out. It's not the suckiest interface I have ever seen (and heard--the car speaks the names of the artists, albums, playlists, etc.), but it's close. And I couldn't get it to list my audiobooks at all. It looks like to switch between books and music I will need to pull over, unplug the iPod (it takes two hands), put on what I want and plug it back in... like I said, not the suckiest interface BUT...

As I look back through what I have written it doesn't look very rhapsodic. Looks more... whiny. So let's get over the whole iPod-controlling tech not so hot and jump right into the SOUND. I have been listening to my iPod through the FM radio with one of those adapters that snarfs an unused station. Quality is, well, not. Directly linked to the magnificent Honda sound system... it swells, it soars, it loops and dips. Between the well-insulated interior of the car (absence of road noise) and the quality of the sound system I was even able to listen to classical music--historically impossible in the car. It's also nice to be able to move forward and backward in the song list by pushing a button on the steering wheel.

Other things about the car... We did not get the surfboard or snowboard accessories (shown above), but we did spring for the built-in DVD player in the back. It came with two pairs of cordless headphones and a cordless remote. Of course I couldn't use it yesterday, but it will make the upcoming trip to Chicago in December with J a joy instead of an are-we-there-yet ordeal.

So the drive up was very enjoyable: No traffic, moonlit road through the woods, great tuneage, and the realization that tomorrow (today, now) is our 11th anniversary... whoopsie daisies! We had already decided to postpone it to November 28, but it was very disconcerting that I completely forgot the day until the day before it.

At the end of the drive was Asheville, which itself was... not what I expected. I had heard of this incredible artists' town, beautiful, quaint, chic. What it actually is is Aurora Illinois, maybe a little bit bigger. This is not a bad thing--I like Aurora, but it's about expectation. The buildings are a hodgepodge of 19th century brick, 1920's/30's deco chic, and 1960's/70's industrial grey low-rise. It felt like 30% of them were vacant and vandalized in the way of many city downtown areas post-advent of the suburban malls. Yes, there are many art galleries--you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting one. And there are restaurants, and independent bookstores and toystores. And it is hilly. Where Aurora has a river for central interest, Asheville is hilly. And I could see where the fiercely loyal residents would think it special. But (finally the 'but') it's not all THAT cool. Like I said, Aurora, or maybe a slightly more rehabbed St. Louis.

I did have the best Mexican-Caribbean meal I have EVER had at Salsa (called by one reviewer his "favorite fusion burrito joint"), and a world-class custard French pastry at Old Europe. All three restaurant/cafe/bakery places I stopped in were highly touted to be "organic", which was cool, but seemed a bit disproportionate in number.

The drive back was, well, hell. I'm from Montana. We get on the freeway and drive across the state rarely seeing another car. We like it that way. I left Asheville at 1:30 pm and was stuck in heavy, moronic traffic all the way to Atlanta. Yeah, there were a lot of cars on the road, but the real problem was the basic selfish stupidity of the drivers as evidenced by the view when I topped a hill and looked down at the ribbon of highway stretching in front of me with ALL THE CARS BUT THREE IN THE LEFT LANE. No wonder it was slow. There were many times we were all going UNDER the speed limit in the left lane because some old geezer parked his big old Buick there and refused to move to the right for anything. Doesn't anybody read the "Slower Traffic Keep Right" signs but me?

But the real highlight of the drive back came when I looked at the gas gauge 30 miles out of Atlanta and the needle on the gas gauge was completely under the orange line next to the E. I drove slowly and rehearsed what I was going to say to Dave when I called him to tell him I needed him to take the train home, get his car, get gas, and drive through rush hour traffic on I-85 on Friday night BOTH WAYS because I ran out of gas. Oh lucky me born under a blessed star, I made it to a gas station without incident. I was even home in time to give J a kiss and a hug before D took her to the Y for Fun Friday. When he got back we had pizza and champagne and watched three Firefly episodes before he went out again to bring the J home.

And now it is Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm. I am still in my jammies, I haven't worked at all, and I'm contemplating a nap. How bad would it be to just take an actual day? Can I *really* not afford it? Or will it make me more efficient tomorrow and next week if I just... rest... today.

I think I'll sip a little more chai and think about it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


No time to post, but HAD to. Got a couple of pairs of sale capris from Ralph Lauren Polo in the mail today. End of the season so they are $19.99. There should have been three pairs in the box. Instead there were two pairs... and a scrumptious heathery navy blue cashmere cable-knit shawl-wrap sweater. Just like this one only, well, heathery navy color. Oh yes, and it was a size SMALL. Even I weren't honest enough to send it back, there is no way it would ever fit no matter how much I dieted. I haven't been a size SMALL since 7th grade. Maybe not even then. Of course Christmas is coming up, I must know SOMEONE who is that tiny. Or I could sell it on eBay! It is ON SALE for $600! But no, I called RLP and made some customer service rep's day. He was still laughing when we hung up. (I made sure he knew how SOFT it is, and that it would make a great... PILLOWCASE). And it's in a box ready to go back tomorrow. *sigh*

Monday, October 09, 2006

For Ren

A Storm Is Coming (from Lord of the Rings) Howard Shore
Africa Toto
After All (Love Theme from Chances Are, with Peter Cetera) Cher
Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Diana Ross & The Supremes
Angel of the Morning Newton, Juice
anna begins counting crows
Because The Night Smith, Patty
Broken Moon Lowen & Navarro
california dreamin' mamas and the papas
Can't Help Falling In Love presley, Elvis
Cathedral Crosby, Stills & Nash
Cloudy This Morning Winston, George
Constant As The Night Lowen & Navarro
Corpus Christi Carol Jeff Buckley
Desperados Under The Eaves Zevon, Warren
everything in its own time (li indigo girls
Far Far Away From My Heart (Live) The BoDeans
Father Figure Michael, George
Gimme Shelter The Rolling Stones
Going Home (Live) The BoDeans
Gwenlaise Cossu, Scott with Eugene Friesen
Hallelujah Jeff Buckley
Hallelujah Rufus Wainwright
harmony john, elton
I Will Wait for You from the Umbrellas of Cherbourg Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
In Without Knocking Mission Mountain Wood Band
Kathy's Song Simon & Garfunkel
Kentucky Rain presley, Elvis
Kiss from a Rose Seal
levon john, elton
Longing/Love Winston, George
Main Themes from Jurassic Park Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Mandolin Rain Hornsby, Bruce
May It Be and Themesfrom the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
missing everything but the girl
Mutineer Zevon, Warren
nightswimming r.e.m.
Nobody Knows Me Lovett, Lyle
Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels) Croce, Jim
Other Streets And Other Towns Carpenter, Mary Chapin
Play It All Night Long Zevon, Warren
Reflection Winston, George
Right Now Van Halen
Since You've Asked Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg
so far away king, carole
Someone To Lay Down Beside Me Bonoff, Karla
songbird fleetwood mac
Stones In The Road Carpenter, Mary Chapin
sweet jane velvet underground
Sweet Surrender McLachlan, Sarah
sweetness follows r.e.m.
the one i love r.e.m.
The Steward of Gondor Howard Shore & Billy Boyd
The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known) Newton, Juice
The Valley Road Hornsby, Bruce
Theme from a Summer Place Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Thunder Road Springsteen, Bruce
tiny dancer john, elton
True Companion Cohn, Marc
Unchained Melody presley, Elvis
Unchained Melody Righteous Brothers
Unchained Melody from Ghost Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Vincent McLean, Don
Walking In Memphis Cohn, Marc
Walking In The Air Winston, George
Walking on a Wire Lowen & Navarro
Watermark Garfunkel, Art
We Are The People Mellencamp, John
We May Never Pass This Way (Again) Seals & Crofts
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Simon & Garfunkel
We're Losing Him from Somewhere In Time Cincinnati Pops Orchestra & Erich Kunzel
Will You Love Me Tomorrow Shirelles
Year of the Cat Stewart, Al

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dave's Birthday

I am spoiled. I do not cook on a daily basis. In fact in the past few years, my cooking has dwindled to almost nothing. But tradition in our house is that the birthday person gets to pick the birthday dinner and when Dave picked dinner at home, it didn't seem right to make him prepare it. So this morning I girded my loins and headed out to the shops. J and I grocery and party shopped from noon through mid-afternoon. When I got home, it was time to start the potatoes for twice-baked potatoes. After a brief stint in the studio (everyday is a work day from now till Nov. 1), the rest of the day was spent on final present wrapping, making the birthday ikebana, and cooking. Okay, so Dave even helped with the potatoes and he made the salad. And I had him cook the steak--it was a very thick bone-in Angus rib-eye and I didn't want to risk spoiling it. Besides, aren't men supposed to do all the grilling?

In my morning outing I picked up a really nice bottle of champagne (Hiedsiek Monopole) to start dinner and we had the last bottle we brought back from the Turley vineyard in California to accompany the steak. Over dinner we watched the season premier of Dr. Who! The new doctor has charisma, but I still miss C. Eggleston. I do, however, like the casting choices of men with creepy villains in their past to play the doctor. This one was Barty Crouch in one of the Harry Potters.

Dessert was a selection of cakes from Southern Sweets with star candles and sparklers on them. Our common Publix grocery store had both sparklers and champagne poppers in the birthday section. Dave didn't read the instructions on the champagne popper before pulling the string and exploding it into his hand. Oops. More gunpowder in those than I remember (and would have thought legal in our highly regulated society). J insisted we all wear party hats and use the rotating green plastic cake plate that lights up and sings happy birthday in a sweet voice with an oriental accent.

Presents were the box, three new Cook's Illustrated cookbooks, a Nixie tube clock (geek, geek, geek), Waterworks (a game from his parents that got him all nostalgic and excited--we're going to play today), a rubber duck, a subscription to Make magazine, the King of Marvin Gardens on dvd, and Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture Volume 1 (geek, geek, geek, geek, GEEK!).

After presents and cake we finished watching Dr. Who and all went to bed late. A good time was had by all. Dave thanks everyone who sent birthday wishes through Glass Incarnate.