Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hey, I won something!!

Alissa over at Slightly More Than Dirt gave me the Silver Lining Award!

Thanks, Alissa! You're awesome! Check out her blog, if you haven't already. Aside from having the best blog name ever and one of the cutest dogs in the blogosphere, she has great tips on saving money and living on a shoestring. She also is one of the few bloggers I know who personally responds to each comment she gets, which is completely awesome. I thought briefly about doing that, but given that I can't even keep up with posting regularly, it would be the death of me to commit to more. :)

I've been informed that, as an honored recipient, my only responsibility is to pass the award on to five worthy bloggers. Here are my awardees, in no particular order:

1. TYWKIWDBI: Pronounced "Tai-wiki-widbee" (the acronym stands for "Things You Wouldn't Know If We Didn't Blog Incessantly") this blog, run by Minnesotastan, is an always-fascinating compendium of random knowledge. I've learned an unbelievable number of random facts from this site (and anyone who knows me personally knows I pride myself on my vast knowledge base of random and obscure facts!) Aside from the cool factoids, the photos on his site (on the right bar, below the categories) are some of the most spectacular I've ever seen (I think my favorite is the frog's eye).

2. Lovely Listings: Odd Finds in Real Estate Listings: Sara's blog is a fun look at the goofiness included in real estate listings. I found this site when I was looking to buy my own house, and I realized that it wasn't just Southern California's realtors who put awful pictures in their listings, and it's not just Angelenos who have crazy rooms in their homes.

3. Ugliest Tattoos: If you don't know the word "schadenfreude" then you don't know me well. I sometimes revel in the misfortune (and stupidity) of others, and that's what this blog specializes in. Enjoy the pictures of misspelled or horribly-drawn permanent ink that people are apparently proud to show off. It'll make you feel so much better about most of the decisions you've made in your life.

4. Why Women Hate Men: While it appears that Weasel might have stopped blogging again, reading back through the old posts on this blog is an absolute must for anyone who has tried Internet dating. Not only are the personal ads themselves appallingly hilarious (and sadly representative of much of what's out there), but Weasel's commentary is some of the best-written satire I've ever read. Note, this site may be NSFW (not pics, just some very off-color text). Also, check out the sister site "Psychotic Letters From Men," linked at the top left of the site.

5. Mental Floss: Billed as the place "where knowledge junkies get their fix," this is a fun mix of trivia, history, quizzes and general useless information. I always think I'm going to visit for 5 or 10 minutes and end up staying for an hour. Once I'm done reading a fascinating article, I find a link to something else I've always wanted to know. You can kill a week on this site if your boss never walks in!

Monday, January 11, 2010

More about the appearance of safety....

The other day, I wrote about how I hate all the stupid (and in many cases, useless) measures that are being put into place at airports and such to keep us "safe." I found this on the Fail Blog this morning. Wow, I feel safer already! Thanks TSA!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Can't... breathe... passing... out....

I was walking into the building here at Widget Co this morning and almost passed out. We have a revolving door that has a badge swipe on it, requiring everyone to enter individually, and only after swiping their ID badges. This often creates a line of employees at the door waiting for those in front of them enter. However, please keep in mind that the door is outside. Where the wind and infinite fresh (well, sorta smoggy) air are.

Today I walked up the steps from the parking lot (the entry is kind of on the second floor) and no one was waiting at the door. As I neared the door and grabbed by badge, I was suddenly knocked off my feet by a woman's perfume. Seriously, my nose physically hurt! Yet no one had been standing by the door during the full minute it took me to get from my car to the door! That means that, whoever she is, she had so much perfume on that the stench lingered in the 50 degree air for at least a full minute after the employee entered the building!! Seriously?? You can't tell you are overdoing it with the scent? Here's a hint: You get more than one application per bottle!

I pray for the health and sanity of whomever sits near her in the office! I would have to dump a bucket of ice water on her if she were near me. Or I'd go home ill. It was that bad. Anyone have a coworker like this?

On a sort of related note, I have a male coworker with whom I meet on a nearly weekly basis. Nice guy, average looking, but he smells so amazing that I actually look forward to our meetings. I desperately want to ask him what scent he's wearing (deodorant? cologne? shampoo?), but I'm afraid it will look unprofessional or send the wrong signals (he's married and I'm not interested anyway). We aren't friends, just colleagues. Thoughts? Is it inappropriate to ask?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Safety ... and the appearance of safety

I'd love to be perfectly safe traveling. I'd enjoy knowing that, when I get on a plane, there's no chance it will explode. I'd treasure the knowledge that my family and friends are in no danger when flying the (formerly) friendly skies. However, we all know that there's no such thing as perfect safety, short of locking ourselves in a fireproof/bombproof/entryproof home with sufficient provisions to live out our lives; and life would be more than a little dull if we did.

While I'd of course prefer that every terrorist on the planet would suddenly spontaneously combust (but live long enough to suffer tremendously), I'm going to continue to feel relatively safe traveling, hoping that our goofy government finally (and soon!) sorts out all its apparently unrelated and uncorrelated watch lists, no fly lists and other "important" lists to keep the fanatic crazies off my plane. I appreciate TSA doing their jobs and scanning luggage, patting down passengers (ok, actually, I hate the patdowns, but I like the idea of my fellow passengers not hiding bombs under sweaters) to find the bombers before they can sit over the fuel tank. I love the bomb-sniffing dogs circling through the lines at the airport to sniff out explosives (besides helping with safety, they're adorable!). All of these precautions make sense, if carried out appropriately.

What I can't stand is the imposition of the mere illusion of safety. Los Angeles International Airport is a mess right now. They have security stopping cars on the approach, looking in trunks, and peering under the chassis with mirrors. I've been through this after 9/11. It's a farce. I once went through the checkpoint with a rolled up blanket in my trunk, along with a tent and other camping gear I'd been too lazy to take out the week before. All the security guard did was glance at it. Maybe he had secret x-ray vision and could truly tell that my stuff was benign, but I can tell you that I didn't feel any safer going in. All it did was snarl up traffic for 2 miles on all sides of the airport!

I often travel for business, and one out of every 7 or 8 times I go through security I get chosen for an extra search. I wouldn't mind this if a huge gaggle of suspicious-looking men with shifty eyes didn't waltz right through the line without so much as an extra wanding. I certainly understand the arguments against racial profiling, but given that no middle-aged white woman has yet bombed a plane, and all of the recent people who have attacked the US have been men of a certain age and "racial profile," doesn't it make sense to pick the people most likely to cause trouble? That's like a bar bouncer letting in the guys in gang colors and keeping out the 75 year old mom of the bartender just so the gangbangers and their ilk don't feel picked on. It just doesn't make any sense. Any troubleshooter knows that you use past experience as a base for future action. Otherwise, what's the point of an investigation after an event?

I don't mind inconvenience for the purpose of ensuring my safety and the safety of all who travel. But don't waste my time, or my patience, on silly rules and impositions that are nothing more than window dressing. You're bugging me with that crap!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Materialistic Christmas

Have you watched any TV lately? If you have, you've no doubt seen the gazillion (yes, I counted them) commercials for luxury cars as Christmas gifts. That's fine. I know companies are out there to make money, and want to sell their products. What bugs me is that they strive to reach only the shallowest demographic possible -- people who choose their car based on what reaction it might get from others.

Honestly, I never, ever, not even once, thought about buying a particular car just for the joy of impressing the neighbors. I thought: "Will it be comfortable on a long trip?" "Will it be fun to drive?" "Will it be reliable for a long time?" I never thought: "Will someone else think I'm better because of it?"

As cynical as I am, I still find it hard to believe that people think this way, but the commercials (which must be successful, or they wouldn't be repeated year after year) prove me wrong. Take Lexus and Audi as prime examples. Every commercial focuses on how your neighbors will be impressed by that big red bow on your new car, or that you will turn heads as you drive down a busy street, or that people will turn away from other neighbors' holiday decorations to gawk at the headlights on your new car. The absolutely pathetic superficiality of anyone to whom such commercials would be appealing is stunning to me.

Does anyone (other than a man with a mid-life crisis) really buy a car to impress others? Well, maybe I shouldn't even bother asking that question. Having worked at a law firm where my fellow lawyers strived each year to buy flashier and more expensive cars than the other lawyers, I shouldn't be surprised. (I had one coworker who was 6'5" tall, but drove a Porsche Boxter because the boss said he thought Boxters were cool -- this guy's knees were up around his ears in that car!) But I guess I had naively hoped that such shallowness was innate only to those losers. Alas, unless these auto companies are targeting only my former coworkers, the phoniness and superficiality go much deeper into our society. How utterly sad for our culture.