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.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Keep your grubby mitts off my money!

So Hillary has now pledged $100 billion of OUR TAX DOLLARS to some fund with a completely undefined purpose aside from the vague "helping developing countries with global warming." What?? Shouldn't they figure out what they need to do before committing money? And shouldn't she maybe see if this is something the American people favor, since it's our money?

Beyond all that, don't we have other important things to spend money on? Seriously, we're still in a recession (ask anyone who's still unemployed!), and have countless domestic problems, yet she thinks we should be wasting money on this? At a time when more and more former manmade-climate-change-fanatics are coming forward to admit that, well, there really is no proof of a connection between smog and climate change, maybe we should focus on fixing our problems here at home first. I'm all for cleaner air, but giving piles of my money to China and India isn't going to solve the problem.

Also, where is this cash going to come from? Do we just have $100 billion sitting around? Of course not. We'll borrow it from China, our biggest creditor. Then not only will we hand them cash to "prevent" climate change, but we'll hand them huge interest payments too. So it won't be $100 billion per year of tax money, it will be $100 billion plus somewhere around 8% interest (that's $8 billion per year additional).

How about using it to help homeless veterans? How about using it to end poverty? How about using it to make sure everyone has somewhere to live? How about using it to build more schools so kids aren't packed in 45 to a classroom? Or -- and here's a radical idea -- how about letting us keep more of our money so we can spend money to stimulate the economy?? But no. They want to just take it and use it as a giveaway for something that can't even be proven to be a problem anyway. Or maybe any warming of the globe is lethal? Like the warming that happened after the last ice age? How awful that was! I'd much prefer to live in an arctic zone....

They should at least be honest about it and just demand our paychecks go directly to the government. Get rid of the pretense, will ya? Until then, keep your hands off the money I work so hard to earn!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Something else that doesn't bug me....

The assistant who sits next to mine outside my office brought me a tamale for breakfast. Homemade. I'm a happy camper.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No.... We wouldn't want to send this by email or anything....

Anyone else see the irony of thousands of these being posted all over the Widget Co. campus?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Seriously?

You couldn't be bothered to send me flowers ONCE the 6 months we dated, but think that sending them to me after I break up with you will change my mind??

Back to normal(ish)

I think someone must have spiked my water with xanex or something, because I've been very unannoyed lately. Things just haven't been bugging me like they should. But I've switched to vodka, so that should kill any feel-good drugs someone tries to slip me. Let the griping begin!! (Well, after my early morning meeting, anyway.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

People are shallow....

If you use Google, you're no doubt familiar with the feature of auto-complete. Begin typing your query into the search box and it suggests options of what you may be searching for. Here's what I found when I began typing my query (I got no further than the word "is"):



These our the World's burning questions. And people wonder why the World is falling apart....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just a thought

More and more lately, I realize that Reagan was right when he said: "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."

Monday, October 5, 2009

They are NOT the same thing!

I'm working on a complicated proceeding for Widget Co., and it involves attempting settlement of a case we filed with our Federal regulator. Part of the settlement process (we're just getting started) involves emailing with all parties (they're called "intervenors" and it's all of them against us) to hammer out certain logistical issues before we start discussing the actual meat of the case.

After emailing the intervenors Widget Co.'s position on an issue (a position that they were NOT happy to hear), I waited for a reply. What I got was a reply to all.

Instead of the intervenors emailing just each other, they hit reply to all and forgot to remove Widget Co.'s attorneys and business people from their list. Duh. All sorts of nasty sniping went back and forth, all aimed at yours truly. They called me a creep! Actually, that was directed at all of us here, but ... really?? Emails landed in my inbox in at the rate of 1 a minute, discussing the strategy of how to respond to what I had stated. I vacillated between being really annoyed and really amused. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and let them know that we were still on their distribution list.

Ladies and gentlement who represent the intervenors: Please turn in your State Bar cards and your Attorney-at-Law business cards. "Reply" does not equal "Reply to All." You are too dumb to practice law.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why didn't my mother tell me this would happen?

We have commercials and ads for everything nowadays. Ever get that not-so-fresh feeling? (Massingill) Feeling bloated and irritable because of your period? (Midol) Ever gotten a leak when you're wearing white pants? (Always) Afraid you might have gotten pregnant last night and want to get rid of it? (Plan B) Did you know you can mix two personal lubricants and get a more amazing result? (KY) Do you have fine lines and wrinkles? (Olay) Need to get rid of stretch marks? (Strivectin)

Nothing is too personal anymore, nothing is taboo for TV commercials, magazine articles, or "news" stories, right? Nothing? I think not.

If we live in such an open society where we can talk about all of the above, why are there still things we have to learn about by experiencing them? I'll give you my favorite example. I'm 38. About 5 years ago, my eyebrows started disappearing from above my eyes and reappearing on my chin. I thought: "I'm a freak!" I thought that I had some serious hormonal condition. I couldn't tell anyone, show anyone.... People would ostracize me!! I'd be a societal outcast!! I'd end up as the bearded lady in a traveling circus.

Now, I know living in Los Angeles, home of any plastic surgery you could imagine (did you know some men get calf implants?) has tarnished my view of what is "normal." However, imagine my surprise when I gave up caring what people thought and started mentioning it to other women my age -- they had the same concerns!! I have a friend whose entire chin is covered in a beard if she doesn't shave it! I went to have electrolysis done and found out that it's incredibly common for women to grow facial and neck hair (always darker and coarser than their regular hair)! Another friend even shared with me that she grows the occasional long dark hair on her nipples!! I'm not a freak!!

But why -- why??? -- in a world of 24/7 douche, tampon and stretch mark commercials -- isn't this talked about? I've mentioned it to several women who also feel that no one else but them suffers from this! Shouldn't Oprah be covering this or something? What about all the "beauty" mags -- what better way to make a woman feel she's not ugly than by letting her know she's not alone?

Ok, off my soapbox. If you're a woman starting to grow beard hairs, there's nothing wrong with you. Even the occasional nipple hair isn't bizarre. It's normal. But why didn't anyone tell us?

Do you have any "why didn't my mother tell me this would happen to me?" items? Let's all share so we all know we're not freaks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sneaky, sneaky....

Over the weekend, while visiting friends in my home state, I got a new cell phone. It was time. Mine only stayed charged for a day or so, and it had always had charging issues (the cord had to be in juuuuuust right for it to charge -- bump it, and it would fail). I spent about 40 minutes at the Verizon store looking at the different phones, and finally picked the one I liked the best. It had a $50 mail-in rebate as part of the offer. Checking out took for freakin' ever! The mouth-breather who was helping me moved like a snail (he also never -- not once -- closed his mouth -- I guess thought he'd suffocate). I wasn't even in a particular hurry, but he was so absurdly slow I almost pounded him!

Then I got home and got my rebate email. The instructions were to mail the signed and dated rebate form to Verizon, along with my proof of purchase, and I'd get a rebate in about a month. What I almost didn't notice -- what they are counting on people NOT to notice -- is that, unless you affirmatively check and change your address, the rebate goes to the Verizon store! Now, Verizon bills come to my house, so I'm pretty sure Verizon has my address. In fact, the store clerk even verified my address!

There is no non-nefarious reason for substituting the store's address for mine. Very, very, sneaky! I know that the phone companies do the "rebate" thing rather than just give a discount because they are counting on a large percentage of the population losing their paperwork or just forgetting. That's sneaky enough, but come on!! Seriously? Sending the rebate to yourself? That's just evil.

I blame the "Can you hear me now?" guy. Personally.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How about some "new" news?

According to Michael Quinion of World Wide Words(http://www.worldwidewords.org/index.htm -- an awesome website for word geeks like me!), the word "news" has as its origins the following:

New is definitely early English — it can be traced to the Old English of the ninth century. It was mainly an adjective, as it still is, but it could also be a noun in the sense of a new thing. The first example of the noun in the Oxford English Dictionary is in a translation by King Alfred of a book by the fourth-century Roman statesman Boethius. By the twelfth century news was being used in the plural to mean new things or novelties. (http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-new2.htm)

Why, then, do the local Los Angeles "news" stations continue to show us "olds" on a regular basis? Seriously, I feel terrible that people are losing their homes and property to the fires, that the air quality (already iffy in Southern California) sucks, and that the firefighters are tired. Really, I do. But you know what?? Telling us the same thing every day is not new. Thus, it cannot be news. How about a 5 minute fire update at the beginning of the broadcast -- it's up to X hundred thousand acres, it's destroyed Y homes, and it's heading toward Z communities -- to keep us apprised? We don't need more than that!! Do they seriously think anyone is watching their 5 "reporters in the field" coughing and sputtering as they stand as close to the flames as possible telling us the fire is bad?

ENOUGH!!!

There must be other things happening in Southern California, America, the World. There must! Or has all life on the planet stopped, holding its collective breath, waiting to see if, maybe today, the broadcast towers on Mount Wilson will be overtaken by flames?

I've really had it with the media. They get one story, and it becomes the be all and end all of "news" whether it's new or not. Currently, the fires; before that, health care; before that, Michael Jackson; before that... other crap that no one cares about anymore. Thank God for BBC News -- where you can actually learn that other parts of the world still exist and have things happening.

(Oh, and thank God for BBC America, where Are You Being Served? is still occasionally shown in reruns!!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

WAKE UP!!!!

I know some of the meetings here at Widget Co. can be boring. Really boring. But geez, people, try to stay awake!! We had an all-attorney mandatory meeting today where we had a presentation on certain aspects of Widget Co.'s business -- basically the future of making, distributing and paying for widgets. Two presenters. They weren't even bad -- they didn't read their slides or anything. That didn't stop 3 of my coworkers from sleeping through the entire presentation. One of them has only been here a few months! Seriously, that's rude. You might want to sleep, or need to sleep, but you stay awake. By the end, there were 5 sleeping, but at least the additional 2 only slept a few minutes!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Soooooo Natural!

When I was in high school, I would frequently hang out at the home of my then-best friend Tracy (or Tracie, Traci, depending on the day -- oh, and the "i" was always dotted with a circle). Tracy's mom was a nutjob. Seriously. She was really scary mean. She insult me to Tracy while I was standing there, or scream irrationally at Tracy while I was there. She stayed married to the man who molested Tracy. And she pronounced "squash" as "squarsh" and "Washington" as "Warshington." But she did teach me how to knit, so she wasn't all bad.

My biggest issue with Tracy's mom was her eyebrows. She was one of those weird women who pluck their eyebrows out completely and then paint them back on. I really don't get this. Why not just shape them and then fill in any bald spots?? I had a friend years ago who was an occasional Baywatch extra, absolutely gorgeous, yet she did this too. I couldn't fathom what possessed her to do it! And these women never paint them on where they should be. They're always waaaaaaay up high, so the woman's face looks perpetually surprised. Not a good look. At all.

Of course, nothing is as bad as people who tattoo them on!! I found this on Ugliest Tattoos (http://ugliesttattoos.com/):

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What a day....

Today, I feel like I'm in this class..... (Thanks Shorpy!)

http://www.shorpy.com/node/6510

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Apollo 11 anniversary

Wow, two "stuff that doesn't bug me" posts in one day! Don't worry -- I'll be back to my regularly scheduled rants soon enough.

From early childhood, I wanted to be an astronaut. Bad eyesight and an inability to do simple math made it obvious I'd never reach that goal, but I've never lost my interest in space. I've been enjoying all the retrospectives for the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission to put the first human beings on the moon. The History Channel had a great program the other night -- excerpts of the live coverage on July 20, 1969 from CBS news, hosted by Walter Cronkite (rest in peace, Mr. Cronkite!). I just came across this next item, which is, fortunately, a little-known historical artifact: the speech Nixon would have given if Armstrong and Aldrin had been unable to return to rendezvous with Collins's command ship.

In a memo from Nixon’s speechwriter, Bill Safire, to White House chief of staff Harry Haldeman, dated July 18, 1969, housed until recently among Nixon's private papers in the national archives, entitled "In event of Moon disaster," are the following, extremely moving, words:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace.

These brave men know there is no hope for their recovery but they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.


In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations.

In modern times, we do much the same but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow and surely find their way home.

Man’s search will not be denied but these men were the first and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the Moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Strange But True

Being a grammar geek (I'm sure no one noticed), I'm always interested in the quirks of language, and the quirks of producing or understanding language. This is fun:

"Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

Monday, July 20, 2009

You can't pass a law you don't understand....

One would think that would be the rule, right? If you're a congressperson and haven't read -- or don't understand -- a particular bill, you can't vote on it. Makes sense, right? Too bad that's not the way it works.

Here's one lovely example from Overlawyered.com: http://overlawyered.com/2009/07/medicare-qui-tam-a-health-care-bill-surprise/.

Apparently, just before President Obama's much beloved universal health care bill was shipped off the the House Ways and Means Committee, a "special" provision was discovered. One that would allow anyone to sue on behalf of the government to recover money from a third party that caused medicare to spend money.

What does that mean? Let's assume you're a driver. You're already having a crappy day, and you crash into another driver who cuts you off in traffic because he's texting and changing the radio station while steering with his knee. Maybe it's legally your fault, maybe not, but there's no debating that you are the proximal cause of the injury. Now, say the injured driver has government healthcare, and that government healthcare pays $20,000 to fix that driver's broken leg. Now, some enterprising lawyer can sue you to recover what medicare spent. Where does the money go? Some to reimburse medicare. But much of it would remain in the pocket of that lawyer.

Even better, other language in the bill would allow the lawyer to sue based on "any relevant evidence, including but not limited to relevant statistical or epidemiological evidence, or by other similarly reliable means." That means if you own a restaurant, and have served food -- some of it high calorie, artery clogging, yummy food -- you can be sued because statistical evidence shows that medicare has to pay for health issues related to fatty foods.

Did the legislators who are pushing this bill know that such language was in there?? I don't know what I hope the answer is. If "yes," then they really want to make sure everyone gets sued for everything they do (or statistically may have done). If "no" then they are clearly voting on bills they don't read, and don't understand.

And people wonder why lawyers are considered bottom-feeders and this country's government is a laughingstock elsewhere.... Please, let's dissolve our government and start over.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hey! I can see you!!

Living in Los Angeles, I'm always, always, always in traffic. Really. Always. I saw a news story that said the average American is stuck in traffic 32 hours a year, but in LA that number rises to 70 hours! Not just time driving, time stuck. Unhappily, miserably stuck, like a mouse whose tail is caught in a trap, frantically looking around for an escape route, even considering chewing off its own tail to escape, but knowing there is no hope.

When I'm stuck going 4 miles an hour on the freeway (why are they even called "freeways" here? they should be called "long parking lots"), there's not much to do but daydream or look at my fellow motorists. I think I should stick to daydreaming. Today as I looked around, I saw a woman applying mascara (driving at least 15 miles an hour while doing so -- I was so tempted to lay on the horn and make her look like Tammy Faye Baker), a guy with the LA Times on his steering wheel (scary that someone would read and drive to begin with, but even scarier that someone would think the crappy LA Times is worth getting into an accident over!!), and 3 -- yes 3 -- people driving and picking their noses.

Note to Nosepicking Drivers: You know what?? We can see you!!! Would you do that sitting in a restaurant? In the park with your kids? On the bus? No. But somehow you think you are invisible sitting in your car! I know some of you think "Hey, I'm never going to see you again, so what do I care?" but you'd be wrong. One of you had a Widget Co. parking sticker on your windshield. I'm sure I'll see you here in the building someday. I'll be sure to hand you a tissue when I do.

And I WON'T shake your hand!

Monday, July 6, 2009

You're Lucky I Like My Car....

What is it about summertime that brings out the highway hemorrhoids? I'm talking, of course, about tailgaters! Yesterday, I drove down to Long Beach, about a 40 mile drive from my happy chunk of suburbia, and I had someone attached to my bumper the entire way. Not the same somebody -- just always somebody.

Why would someone want to drive this close to my car? What if I hit the brakes? What if I have to swerve to avoid something in the road? What if I throw a bag of dog poop out towards his moon roof? (Ahhh, if only my aim were that good....)

I'm trying to figure out how to invent the following device: When the driver sees a hemorrhoid on her ass as she's driving, she can push a button, which will pop open the trunk slightly. Out of the trunk comes a large hand that goes in the tailgater's driver side window and smacks him upside his annoying head.

If you are an inventor, and know how this can be accomplished, please call me on the Bat Phone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No wonder you're not an attorney....

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I'm an attorney, and have been for the past 10 years. I also enjoy watching law-related shows, like Law and Order and Judge Judy. Yes, Judge Judy -- I love that crabby lady! I wish all judges would tell stupid litigants (and stupid lawyers) when they're being especially stupid. I love how she occasionally even corrects people's grammar, although they often don't recognize that she's doing it. One thing I WISH she would do, though, is correct stupid pronunciations.

Here are two of my least favorite law-related mispronunciations: "affidavid" and "promissary note." No, you idiots. There's no such thing as an "affidavid." If you can believe it, I actually hear attorneys saying this at times!! Look it up. It's an "affidaviT"!! And there's no such thing as a "promissary note." It's a "promissOry note." If you can't pronounce it, you shouldn't sign it. Dufuses.

Oh, and while we're at it, the "District Attorney" does not defend you for free. She prosecutes you! The poor overworked "Public Defender" is the one who defends you.

Gah!

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Mean, Here's My Post

You know what else bugs me? People who start a sentence with "I mean..." when it is totally uncalled for. I was listening to the news on the radio yesterday and several different people were interviewed about a particular topic (different stations covered Michael Jackson, Iran, and South Carolina's governor). Almost every time some of the interviewees were asked a question, they began their answer with "I mean...." NO!!!

"I mean" should only be used to clarify what you said previously. You may NOT use it as a hesitation word. That's why we have "uh" and "um." Listen for it; you'll hear it.

Stop it!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coworker Poetry/Poll

I work for a living.
Most of you probably do too.
Most of us work with people.
Many of them annoy us.
Tell me, in your comments,
Who annoys you most,
And why?

Silliness

I'm very happy to help those with some sort of disability live a more "normal" life. For example, I'm happy to see that seeing eye dogs are allowed in stores, that many companies offer TTY numbers for the hearing impaired to use, and that most buildings are required to be wheelchair accessible.

What bugs me, though, is PC "accommodation." If you are going to do it, do it right; don't just do it to look like you care because it's the "politically correct" thing to do. For example, the Fail blog (failblog.org) has this example of a not-so-useful wheelchair ramp:



But such silliness could never happen here, right? Right? Oh, wait. It has. Here at Widget Co, our office doors have braille on them, right below the office number. Nice. Useful. Helpful if you're blind. But Furminator's office door has fake braille on it. Yes, that's what I said: Fake braille. It's literally a bunch of dots painted below her office number. Why bother? Who the hell is supposed to "read" this?


Thanks for caring, Widget Co!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mail that's not for me

I like getting mail. All my bills come electronically now, so mail is actually often a happy event. Especially with my birthday being next week -- I look in my mailbox hoping to see cards (sadly, I've been disappointed so far).

Unfortunately, the people I bought my house from never submitted a forwarding order at the Post Office. Seriously. It's been more than a year, and I still get mail for them, including for the landscaping business they ran out of their garage. About 6 months after I moved in, I came home early because the pond guy was there to fix my filter. Lo and behold, sitting just outside my gate was a brand new filter. Not addressed to me (for the landscaping business), but that didn't stop my pond guy from offering to take it off my hands in exchange for free pond work. Being the honest sap that I am, I said no, and dutifully contacted the delivery company to pick it up and take it back. When I got letters and cards (yes, birthday, Christmas, etc -- they didn't even tell their friends they were moving), I called their realtor to let them know I'd leave them by the gate for them to pick up.

That was then, this is now. When I get their mail, including stuff from their lawyer, their kids' school, etc, I throw it away. I've thrown away birthday cards, even when it feels like they have a gift card in them. Pretty soon, I'm going to start claiming any goodies that show up, regardless of to whom they are addressed - it's cruel to let me see a card in the mailbox, let me get all excited that someone remembered me, and then find out that no one cares it's my birthday.

I have a coworker who receives fan mail because she bought her condo from one of the actresses of The Facts of Life. Yes, that same Facts of Life that went off the air in 1988. Fan mail. Seriously. Anyway, because the mail is forwarded (presumably from an ex-agent) without a return address, there's no way she can get it back to the agent or to the actress herself, so she reads and enjoys it,and shares it with us. Yesterday's letter was from a prisoner. Good fun.

Today I arrived at work and found a FedEx package on my chair. I was excited. Did I mention my birthday is coming up? (Oh, yeah, I guess I did.) I had the scissors in hand to rip it open when I saw that it was addressed to my former boss. Who hasn't worked here since last August. Grrrrr. My first few years, he was an awesome boss, but then we had a falling out, and now I find him to be less than wonderful. Anyway, the point is, why do I have to be responsible for getting him his stupid package? If he's not smart enough to check the address before he orders something, that's his fault, right? But like the dutiful Widget employee that I am, I'll get it to him.

But I damn well better get a birthday present out of it!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yes, they are that brilliant!

A break from my normal ranting (don't worry, it's a short break) to tell you a funny story about my dogs.

I have two wonderful miniature australian shepherds (to protect their identity, I'll call them The Girl and The Boy). The Girl rides on the back of my Harley (you can see her pic on my profile with her helmet and goggles), and The Boy excels at agility. I've managed to train them so that they leave each other's food bowls completely alone. Often The Boy will leave food in his bowl and go back to it later, and The Girl does not get a snack out of it, and vice versa. However, they know that if a piece of kibble lands on the floor, it's fair game. If The Girl is eating messily and pushes a piece of kibble out, The Boy will rush over to grab it, even though he has plenty of food in his own bowl. The Girl does the same if The Boy is messy. They recognize, respect, and live by these rules.

The other day, I got home from work late and they were pretty hungry. However, because I know I'm lazy, I took them for a walk before I sat down, ate, or fed them, because otherwise, I'd just get comfortable and they'd get no walk. When we got back from the walk, they were starving. The Boy gobbled his food (he weighs half of what The Girl does, yet eats twice as much!) and then stood staring at The Girl's bowl as she munched contentedly. I watched closely, waiting to make sure he'd keep his nose out of her bowl. Remember, kibble in the bowl is not for the taking, but kibble on the floor is. The Boy reached his paw into her bowl and pulled a small pile of kibble onto the floor and then ate it. He did this repeatedly. I expected a growl of protest from The Girl, but she knows that kibble on the floor is fair game, so all she did was eat faster.

It was hilarious!! My dog did some problem-solving!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Not the crown I wanted

I love my parents and am very glad they are still together after 40-something years. I am happy to be alive. Despite this, I still think there should be a law: two people with bad tooth and gum DNA shouldn't be allowed to have children.

So I was sitting home last week, happily eating a slice of angel food cake, when a tooth exploded. Yes, on angel food cake. The softest food on the planet. Grrrr.... Not that it was the first time this particular tooth had given me trouble. I think the word "tooth" may be a misnomer, since there was more mercury than an old-style thermometer taking up space on my gum. Sigh.

Off I go to the dentist. It took two trips, because just as I sat back in the chair and watched the four foot drill coming at my face, I got a migraine. Not a "oh, I'd really rather not be here" headache, but a full on migraine. Later, when I told her about it, my coworker asked me why I didn't just suck it up and stay. I took a metal chair and crashed it down on her head, poked both her eyes out, poured boiling acid on her exposed skin, and pushed a pickle fork into both of her ears. "Would you like the drill now?" I asked. I guess she took the point, because she peeled her bleeding carcass off the floor and went back to her office.

So I went back and not only got a root canal (although I have to admit it was the most painless ever!), but the dentist did oral surgery! Ack!! When he came at me with the scalpel, I almost peed my pants! Then he ground my jaw bone down. I firmly believe there should be a minimum 72 hour warning period before you have to be near a scalpel. I only got 30 seconds notice.

They put on a little temp tooth which came off a few hours later. Now I have a little post in my mouth where a tooth should be, stitches in my gum (and because they'd run out of clear thread, I have black, rotten looking, stitches), and a greenish bruise on my jaw. I go back this week to get the stitches out and get fitted for a crown, and presumably get another temp.

As if all of this weren't painful enough, they billed me $857! Yes, eight-hundred-and-fifty-seven-freakin-dollars for the privilege of sitting through the process. Why do I pay so much for dental insurance if it still leaves me with an $857 bill?????? Holy tooth decay, Batman!

As I was coming in to work this morning, I remembered that I have a lottery ticket I haven't checked yet. (Can't check it here at Widget Co. --they don't want you to know if you can quit.) Maybe I'm a multi-millionaire and can commission new teeth. More likely, I'm in for more of the same, since I got crappy tooth DNA. Thanks Mom and Dad.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

HA!! I'm smarter than the average bear!

I outsmarted Big Brother! I made the comment form a full page (FYI, settings > comments > Comment Form Placement > full page) and now you should be able to comment! Even if you work here at Widget Co!! AB and Alissa, if you'd do the same, you would be able to once again receive my amazing words of wisdom!! :)

Sigh. Unfortunately, my brilliance took time and experimentation, and I tried different templates to see if that would fix it. Now it looks weird. Grrr.'

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Big Freakin' Brother!

Grrrrrr. Widget Co has done something to our Internet capabilities, and I can no longer comment on some of my favorite blogs. I can't figure out the rhyme or reason why I can comment on some but not others (sometimes even both on Blogger). So if BikerPuppy comments on your blog occasionally, rest assured I'm still reading and enjoying -- I've just been unjustly silenced. Alissa and Amazon Barbie, yours come immediately to mind.

Damn Big Brother! Sometimes I feel like I work in Communist China.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Don't infer it if I don't imply it!

I was reading a news article this morning and made the mistake of simultaneously drinking a soda. I was forced -- yes, forced -- to spray copious quantities of Diet Coke out my nose when I came across my least favorite grammar error. I will have to paraphrase, because when I read it, and after I wiped the still-bubbling liquid off my keyboard, I closed the browser, threw my laptop against the wall, and promptly tried to forget what article I was reading. Aaaaaaauuuuugggghhhhh!

What got me so upset, you ask (yes, I know you're asking)? The gist of it was as follows: "I don't mean to infer that I don't care." What?????? What ??????? W H A T ? ? ? ? ?

Grammar 101 here. I can IMPLY that I don't care. I can IMPLY that the writer is stupid. I can IMPLY that I wished that the author of that sentence would have been fired before the puddle on my floor dried. Thus, I will have "stated indirectly" the preceding points. You, then, can INFER that I don't care. You can INFER that I think the writer is stupid, and you can INFER my hatred of the author. Thus, you will have "drawn a conclusion" from what I said.

Ack! This kind of error akin to those of people who can't tell the difference between "affect" and "effect," or "continual" and "continuous." Did these people not go to elementary school? (Or did they just have my high school "Honors" English teacher teaching them basic grammar?) These words are not fungible. They are not synonyms. There is a reason they are not the same word. Stop using them as if they were. Otherwise, you can infer from my upraised hand that I'm going to slap you.

Note to self: Future post on Ms. Batson, teacher of Honors English at Start High School, who regularly said: "Class, the bell already rung. Sit down." "Rung" was pronounced "wung." She also taught Animal Farm out of the Cliff Notes. I'm pretty sure she taught Honors English because they figured our class would be less damaged by her incompetence.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm just humbled that you'd read this post....

I was listening to Judge Sonia Sotomayor giving a speech after Pres Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court. One of the first things she said was that she was "humbled" to be nominated. What?? This is a common cliché used by politicians, awardees, etc. It must stop because it makes them sound stupid and uneducated.

According to Webster's Dictionary:

Main Entry: humbled
Function: transitive verb
Date: 14th century
1 : to make humble in spirit or manner 2 : to destroy the power, independence, or prestige of


And, because Webster's can't be bothered to define a word without using that same word in the definition, we must look up "humble" as well:

Main Entry: hum·ble
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin humilis low, humble, from humus earth; akin to Greek chthōn earth, chamai on the ground
Date: 13th century
1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission 3 a: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale : insignificant, unpretentious b: not costly or luxurious


So Sotomayor was saying that receiving this awesome appointment -- surely the dream of judges throughout the country -- has made her "not arrogant?" Or has made her "insignificant?" Or has destroyed her power and prestige??? This makes absolutely no sense. I can be humbled by having a blatant error or embarrassing secret made public. I can be humbled by losing everything and having to start over. However, I cannot be humbled by being told how awesome I am. Neither can she.

I understand what she was trying to say. But if this woman is possibly going to be writing decisions that will stand for centuries and will be interpreted, reinterpreted and relied upon for the most important matters, she needs to learn to use the English language properly. Maybe if someone points this out to her, she will be humbled.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stuff that doesn't bug me

I have good friends. Despite my horrible experience last Friday, I really, really appreciate Harley's Mom for rushing home from the salon to take me to the ER. You da best!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Health, doctors and medicine

Last Thursday, I went home from work with a migraine. A bad one. Friday, I went to the Emergency Room because the migraine was much worse, and I lost the vision in my right eye. About 45 minutes after arrival, I was hooked up to an IV and drugged up with morphine. The headache started to ease. About 2 hours later, I went home, groggy, headachey, and getting my vision back. I slept a while, and then the itching kicked in. I'm assuming that not everyone gets this reaction to morphine -- given the number of people addicted to it and Oxycontin and all the other heroine-related drugs. 26 hours of almost unbearable (but better than the full migraine) itching later, I was feeling better. Headache almost gone, itching gone, mood improved.

I get it. I have a chronic migraine condition -- 8-15 migraines a month. I know some of my triggers and avoid them. Others are a mystery to me. I just have to live with it. What I shouldn't have to live with is stupid doctors.

The ER doctor did what she was supposed to do. She took the edge off the headache and sent me home. My frustration is with my regular doctor and the various "specialists" I've seen. Migraines are not new. Their cause is not well-known, but there are lots of aggressive treatments being tried by different doctors throughout the world. Not mine. Mine want to give me some abortive drugs (stop it when it starts) and send me on my way with a pat on the head. Um, how about trying to PREVENT the damn things?? I've seen 3 neurologists and several GPs, none of whom has been willing to work with me to find the cause. My acupuncturist has done more to help prevent them than the guys with the fancy degrees!!

So, doctors suck. If you've had any sort of ongoing or chronic condition, you know what I'm talking about. They don't get it, and they aren't really concerned about getting it. My worst doctor experience was when a neurologist sent me to a neurosurgeon because he had discovered I had a brain tumor. The neurologist was an ass, and refused to give me info about the tumor, saying that the neurosurgeon would do that. Of course, I had to wait two weeks for that appointment. The neurosurgeon said, "You have an acoustic neuroma brain tumor. You can have it removed by surgery or radiation. Which do you prefer?" Ummm, let me see.... Having my head cut open sounds gross. Having my head irradiated sounds gross. Yeah, thanks for helping me make the choice. What a dufus. As if he had been asking "Coffee or tea, which do you prefer?" Fortunately, the internet has vast resources, and I was able to find lots of info and support groups to help me decide. Doctors suck.

Know who else sucks? People who pretend to have "migraines." Seriously. I have a coworker who walks around wearing sunglasses, going out to lunch with friends, and joking around the law cafe, having a "migraine" that is preventing her from working. Gah! Migraines aren't just crappy headaches. They are a debilitating condition with a headache like you've never experienced, nausea, and a whole host of other symptoms. You don't walk around and joke and laugh. Wearing sunglasses doesn't cut it. Stop using them as an excuse to leave early. Stop using them as an excuse to get out of work. Stop using them as an excuse to be a goof off. You're making it harder for the rest of us who are actually suffering with the disease.

Ok, off my pain-induced soap-box. I hate doctors.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Life at Widget Co

Widget Co is a rather odd place to work. Don’t get me wrong, I really like it here. I work with great people who make it fun to come to work everyday. Well, at least, I'm sure it's more fun than mining coal 200 feet underground in earthquake country with nothing but coal-dusty gruel to eat and one’s own urine to drink.

Today was a typical Wednesday. I got up, got dressed, came to work, and turned on my computer. I got some work done on a filing, answered some emails, and before I knew it, it was 11am. Time for the Widget Co Law Department Country Western BBQ! Of course!

I went downstairs to the little park area that separates the reserved parking lot (the gold-paved lot, lined with cherry blossoms and roofed by rainbows, where senior attorneys such as Yours Truly get to park) from the lame-o parking lot (made of loose gravel and surrounded by a flaming moat full of snapping turtles) where the riff-raff (including lesser attorneys) park. Down in the park, there was a lovely BBQ set up, with long tables lined with burgers, hot dogs, chili, cookies, fruit, lemonade, baked beans, potato salad, etc. A very nice assortment of quite yummy food.

After collecting my food, I went over to a table my friends had staked out. I noticed that, like always, the attorneys sat with attorneys, the staff sat with staff, paralegals sat with paralegals, etc. Very self-segregated. It always reminds me of 4th grade, when I learned that boys have cooties, and thus girls only sat with girls and boys were left alone to pick their noses elsewhere. Of course, in 4th grade, I was confused about why cooties were bad (I knew they were by how others said the word, but...), because we used to play this family game called Cootie, and they were adorable. For those of you who were children in the 70s:

Anyway, once most people were served, the line dancing started. Yes, line dancing. With an instructor. In the parking lot. I like to be a participator in things (because I know I'm a dork, and if you're gonna be a dork, you might as well enjoy yourself and embrace your dorkitude), so I danced a couple songs, sweating like a pig and moving like a fat tired cootie covered in molasses and thumb tacks attempting to swing dance in an ultra-high gravity environment. Fun, but ugly.

Fortunately, as far as I know, there is no video of the spectacle. The same is not true for my coworker. I took my camera, with it’s crappy video capability, and made sure that his endeavor in work-related line dancing would live ... FOREVER!. I even arranged for it to be posted to the Law Dept. intranet. I know, I’m evil. I give you Connor, the whiter-than-me Irishman dancing a line dance. He’s now been nicknamed “Shimmy.”
Of course, it’s not all fun and games here. We also work. And we take things – especially safety – very seriously. Leon, one of the managing attorneys here, just got back today from vacation in Mexico. Yes Mexico, home of the chimichanga, tequila, and the swine flu. Of course, several of his colleagues made sure that it was safe for him to return to work. I’m not sure what all the exam entailed, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. Poor Leon. Welcome home, guy! Hehe.
Now, back to work. I’m pretty sure I can get something done in the remaining hour before I leave early.

Trashy Neighbors

I have some of the most annoying neighbors. They live across the street, and daily bring down the value of the homes in our neighborhood. I'm not sure exactly who lives there. There's the Dad. I think the mom now lives in Oregon most of the time, but is often visiting. There are two women my age who appear to be their daughters (whom I affectionately refer to as "Carrot Top" and "Trashy Girl"), and a guy about my age who appears to be their son. They are not always there, but I can't tell if that's because sometimes they're at work or because they just visit all day every day. There are two small infants and a teenage boy ("Gangly Boy"). One of the infants is named "Junior." I know that because I hear "Junior!!!!!!!" shrieked at the top of Carrot Top's lungs several times a day. I wish I were exaggerating. I'm not. Junior runs around in just a diaper on nice days. His mom borrows Gangly Boy's pocket bike (like a tiny motorcycle with a whiny motor) and circles the block for half an hour at a time (never long enough for the police to catch her). She wears no helmet, and best of all, she puts Junior on the handlebars of the bike, with just a diaper and no helmet. Mother of the Year material to be sure.

Who else lives there? 22 cats. At least, that's how many I've been able to count at any given time. There may be more. There are also 3 dogs, one of whom regularly poops on my lawn. The cats are all carbon copies of each other, and are clearly all from the same exact family tree, with no branches (I suspect the neighbors themselves might be inbred as well). I called the Humane Society and they came to get the cats and spay/neuter them, and then returned them. Hopefully, that means there won't be future generations. Gross.

How do they bring down the value of the neighborhood? Let's see. How about the tent (those mosquito tents you put over your picnic table -- see-through gauze protects you from the bugs but lets you see out clearly) on the front lawn with clothing hanging on racks in it? This was up for 2 1/2 months, until last week. How about the furniture on the lawn? A desk, two dressers, a nightstand, a TV and an armoire, all sinking into the mud, because they've been there since the rainy season started -- January. Sometimes they're covered with plastic, sometimes not. I suspect they are actually being used. What else? How about the wrought iron fence in the front yard? "What's wrong with a fence?" you may ask. It's 15 feet long, and not connected to anything. You can walk around it on either side. It doesn't even stretch the length of their yard. I think they only have it there to chain the 5 bicycles to. Not sure who rides the bicycles. I've only seen Gangly Boy on one of them, once. Other things on the lawn: a new front door (finally installed in March, was there when I bought the house in April 2008), boxes, a 10' x 12' piece of plywood (propped up against a tree), and lots and lots of cat poop.

Let's talk cars. There are 5 cars that "belong" to this house in one way or another. One, a red jeep, parks in front of my house all the time. I wouldn't care (I park in my garage, so it's not blocking me), except the Dad is always out there under the hood. I feel like I live in a mechanic shop. Sometimes the Dad sleeps in the jeep. Wish I were joking. The driveway is mostly unpaved. Three of the other cars are usually in the driveway (two never move). When the black car is there (the one that leaves sometimes), there is always someone sitting in it. I'm only exaggerating slightly. There is ALMOST always someone sitting in it, legs hanging out the door. One of the other family members is often leaning in, talking to the owner of the legs.

These people are yellers. I can hear almost all of any conversation they have, because it is at such a volume. Add that to the fact that, except at night, they don't go inside. Seriously. They don't. They threaten Junior with "do you want to go inside???" to make him behave. I can't imagine what is inside that is so frightening.

These people are the epitome of "white trash." I suppose I should at least be grateful that they don't hire a live mariachi band for a yard party every three months like the house two doors down from them.

I'd love to hear your stories of bad neighbors in the comments section. If someone can top these folks, I really want to know about it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Work "events" on weekends

This past Saturday, all of the lawyers in Widget Co's law department were invited to the home of the general counsel (of our parent company) for lunch. Actually, the event was quite nice, with servers bringing around yummy hors d'oeuvres, several stocked bars (with really hot bartenders) both inside and outside the home, and valet parking. Since I generally like my coworkers, it was not unpleasant to sit in the sun eating sandwiches with them and their spouses and SOs.

But... it was Saturday. Saturday is my day. Saturday is the weekend, and should be sacrosanct! I don't care how much booze you're serving, you're still taking up my weekend. However, given the status of the host in the Widget Co food chain, I figured it would be better for my career to just go. I didn't have it nearly as bad as some west-siders. They got stuck in bad traffic and it took more than 2 hours to arrive. On a lovely Saturday. Sa-tur-daaay....

I generally think of these events as a bigwig's opportunity to show you how much better his house is than yours (or any you'll ever own), and demonstrate that his salary and benefits package allows him to hire chefs and valets for a 4 hour party. I'm not saying that's why he did it, but it sure feels that way to me.

All in all, it's gotta be good to be the Big Cheese. But it was Saturday....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Best Quote Ever!

Confucius say "Kids are like Legos, lot of fun to make, but sooner or later, only end up messing up house."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tunes

Have you ever put in a CD and, even though you've listened to it a hundred times before, the lyrics just really hit you? I switched out the CDs in my car yesterday, and on the way to work today I was listening to one I've heard many, many times. One lyric, though, really caught my ear. It seems to sum up how I've been feeling lately (actually, the whole song kinda does). It's a good feeling -- like the songwriter understood me, or was going through something similar. Anyway, the lyric that really got me was this: "Lives are running novels; at times you read, at times you write. The choice of which to do might keep you awake at night. Should I just accept or act against this pressing moment? Should I run for cover or stand and fight?" I guess I've been into moody songs lately, but this one really hit me over the head. Thanks, Enchant!!

On another music front, apparently one of the duets on American Idol last night (I don't watch, but I'll have to find this one on YouTube) was one of my long-time favorites: Renegade by Styx!! Awesome!! Maybe this will help the new generation discover a "new" old band that really rocks!!

Edit: Since several people have emailed asking what the song is, it's In the Dark by Enchant, off the Break CD. Here's the entire song:

Some nights I lie in forced awakeness
My thoughts won't let me go
A sleep like death has claimed the world outside
The silence reshapes my solitude, from a refuge to a prison
Distractionless, nowhere to hide

Aloneness holds the mirror
I see things I just can't work through
Some things you'll never shine any light into
Like how to read what will be, from what has been
Like what's in store for me, and you

I wonder what my life will be, what lies ahead for the people close to me?
How can I make my peace with uncertainty -- in a sea of risk, swim with serenity?

Some nights my thoughts drag me to a cold, cold place: the dark side of mortality
Who will be the next to go -- their light blown out forever, in that merciless finality?

Lives are running novels; at times you read, at times you write
The choice of which to do might keep you awake at night
Should I just accept or act against this pressing moment
Should I run for cover or stand and fight?

I wonder what my life will be, a public failure or success in obscurity?
How can I make my peace with uncertainty -- in a sea of risk, swim with serenity?
I wonder what my life will be, what lies ahead for you and me?
Can I make my peace with uncertainty?
I wonder what my life will be: I wonder.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Late afternoon meetings

My boss set a meeting from 4-5 today. What??? I get here at 7ish so I can leave at 4ish. Ack!! and now, the meeting is delayed because her 3-4 meeting is delayed!! Does she not know it's Drinko... er... Cinco de Mayo??

Seriously, who thinks it's ok to set meetings at the very end of the day??? Of course, it could be worse. At least it's not 4-5 on a Friday!! Actually, I've had 5-6 meetings with bigwigs on Fridays. That's just evil.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maintenance

I love having my own car. I love the fact that it's paid off and still in relatively good condition. I hate the fact that I have to get work done on it. I went in this morning for the 50,000 mile service. Grrrr! An oil change, tire rotation, brake job and fluids replacement later, I'd spent 3 1/2 hours and almost $600!! Yikes! Why can't my car just take care of itself? And to think I was planning to spend even more on it to get the windows tinted! I'm so poor now I'll be eating ramen for dinner for the next month. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Silly hysteria!

Swine flu. Open the newspaper, watch the nightly (or morningly, or noonly, or afternoonly) news, check the news sites, and that's all you'll hear about lately. Swine flu. Oh, no! We have 50 cases here in the US!! Oh, no!! What they seem to bury in the story, if they tell you at all, is that the swine flu has exactly the same symptoms and effects as the seasonal flu. Therefore, if you don't fall into the category of people who might die from the seasonal flu (elderly, people with compromised immune systems, etc.), you'll be fine. The worst you'll have is a bug for a few days. What's with all the hysteria?? Yes, take precautions. Yes, wash your hands and don't cough on people. Yes, stay home from work if you feel sick. But stop freaking out!!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Say NO! to more Taxes and False "Reform"

Taxes bug me. Of course, taxes bug most people. What bugs me much, much more is sneakiness. Take note, Californians! On May 19, 2009, you will be asked to vote on six propositions that affect the State budget. These propositions were created as a "compromise" to get the budget passed in California this year.

First, because few writers (and definitely none in the mainstream media) can write without infusing their text with their own biases, let me lay mine out. Fiscally, I'm conservative, and believe in smaller, more streamlined government. I'm not opposed to helping people when they are down (which is why I donate to charities), but I don't believe that training the populace to rely on handouts from the government will improve our nation. In fact, just the opposite. Moreover, I believe that, just like you and me, governments (fed, state and local) should have to live within their means. When I run out of money, I don't demand more from my employer. I decrease my expenditures. Why shouldn't the legislature? When I plan my monthly budget, I put the most important items first (mortgage, utilities, food, etc.) and when tough times arise I cut back on luxuries and non-essential items (movie tickets, dinners out, alcohol, etc.). Why then, should we permit our legislatures to plan for their pet projects first, second and third, and then when money ends up short, why do we allow them to scare us with their "we'll have to lay off teachers, we'll have to fire policemen, we will have to pink-slip firefighters!" No, no, no!! If those are critical assets, you plan for them first, not last!!

Let's get back to the California Props. Most voters will get their information on props from the State's ballot Voter Information Guides mailed out prior to the election. However, in a super-sneaky trick on the voters, the State failed to point out in the VIG the negative aspects of the Props. The only way to get the full picture of what these propositions do is to slog through the legislative text of the proposals. You can get that here:
http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/pdf-guide/text-of-proposed-law.pdf. Read it. Read it again. Keep reading it until you understand what they are trying to do to us.

Prop 1A is being touted as a "spending cap" to prevent the legislature from spending more money than it has. There are constant radio ads lately bemoaning the "thousands" of pink slips received by teachers (by the way, those "pink slips" are required by union contract, and are not layoff notices -- they simply say that a teacher is "eligible" for a layoff -- past experience in California shows that only a tiny fraction of the teachers who receive these pink slips will be actually laid off), and how horrible it is, and how "budget reform" is needed. What the commercials don't tell you is the following:

1) Prop 1A will INCREASE YOUR TAXES for AN ADDITIONAL TWO YEARS! An analysis by the State Legislative Analysts Office confirms this. (http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2009/1A_05_2009.pdf, see pages 5, 6) As part of its budget "compromise," the California Legislature initiated the largest tax hike in the history of the US. It raised state Personal Income Taxes for 2009 and 2010 by 0.25% (and reduced the tax credits for dependents), doubled the Vehicle License Fee, and increased California sales tax to 9% (in addition to whatever county and local sales tax is imposed on you). These tax increases are currently slated to end after 2010, but if you vote yes on Prop 1A, they will not end until after 2012. Even the Voter Information Guide fails to point this out. Californians already pay the highest income tax in the nation, yet it's still not enough! Californians already pay the highest sales tax in the nation, but it's still not enough! Well I say ENOUGH! This is a $16 billion dollar tax increase that is being deliberately hidden by the State. The Voter Information Guide, which is supposed to provide all relevant information about the propositions, deliberately omits this fact! This is sneakiness taken to new levels!

2) If the legislature hits the spending "cap" and wants to spend more money, they CAN do it. "How is that?" you ask. "After all, it's a spending cap!" The text of Prop 1A allows them to do it, as long as they simultaneously raise taxes. So if they want to spend more of your money, they have to tax you to do it. Wow, what an amazing "reform" in our process!!

3) The budget each year will be based on the revenues from the previous 10 years. Thus, in a recession year that follows flush years, the budget will be much higher than the revenues the State will collect. What does that mean? More tax increases (because the State won't deny itself the pleasure of spending all the money the budget allows for!). In a flush year following several recession years, the budget will be much smaller. This makes no sense. The budget should be based on a reasonable forecast of tax revenue.

4) Finally, while Prop 1A purports to create a "rainy day fund" to provide for years when need exceeds tax dollars (kind of like your personal "emergency" savings account), Prop 1B, if passed, would require schools to be paid $9.3 billion out of the "rainy day fund," regardless of the state's financial situation. (http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2009/1A_05_2009.pdf, see page 4)

We all know these are difficult times. We all know people who have been laid off, are unemployed or underemployed, or are just struggling to get by. This affects all of us, yet the State couldn't even be honest about it. They (and the special interest groups who benefit from the props) are spending millions of dollars on advertising to get you to vote yes on Props 1A-1F. We cannot let them do this. Vote NO on Props 1A through 1F. Encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to vote NO! Let people know what the legislature is trying to pull over on us. Enough is enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Susan Boyle

From the moment I saw Susan Boyle on YouTube, I loved her. She has a sharp wit and shy nature at the same time, a rare combo. There can be no dispute that her voice and singing ability are amazing.

Why is it, then, that every single news report about her has to point out that she's not lovely? I've never heard the words "homely" and "dowdy" so many times in my life! How rude! What kind of society are we (the US and the UK) that someone who is not stunningly attractive is not expected to have any talent?

Her performance should have been no shock at all, other than in comparison to the less-talented performers who went before her. Yet the judges, the audience, and the media all implied that her exterior (which is by no means ugly) should dictate her worth, but ... shock!... it doesn't in this rare case! What a backhanded compliment. If I were her, I'd let them know where they can shove their discussions of a "make-over" and all that. She's an enormously talented woman, and her appearance -- good, bad, or mediocre -- shouldn't matter an iota. After all, there are tons of people considered "attractive" who have no talent at all (Jonas Brothers, Playboy bunnies, etc.). And yet we aren't "shocked" when they suck at anything but looking good.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Whaaaat???

It was almost a hundred degrees in the part of Los Angeles where Widget Co. is located. What's up with that??? It's APRIL!!!!!!!!!!!!! You midwesterners (Cathy, Kelly H., Go Bucks!, Diane, etc) complaining about the cold get NO sympathy from me!!!

Huh?

Driving along the Los Angeles freeways over the weekend, I must have passed about 10 shoes of all different sorts abandoned along the side of the road. How do these shoes get here? Does anyone miss them? Why is it always just a single shoe? Is someone walking around with the matching shoe somewhere? They look sad and lonely.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Restrooms

Much as I like to complain about things here at Widget Co., I have to say that we have it pretty good. Take our restrooms for example. Always clean and they even provide air freshener spray. My only complaints would be these: 1) why is the air freshener always "food" scented? Ewww! I can't enjoy dutch apple pie anymore. 2) why do we get automatic toilets, but not automatic sinks and doors? You touch the (presumably dirty) toilet flusher BEFORE you wash your hands, but you have to use your now clean hands to shut off the water and to open the door. But really, they're pretty good here.

Other places don't do such a good job with the restrooms. My favorite (read: least favorite) restrooms are in airports. Blech! There's always at least one toilet that's overflowing, and there's paper (toilet and towel) everywhere.

Once I've found a relatively clean stall, I get in, struggling to bring my luggage in with me. Would it really be so hard to make the stalls 2 feet deeper so we don't have to put our roller-bags on our laps while peeing? Once I'm in, I start looking for the seat covers. Apparently, this is more a California thing than a national trend. Here in California, they're ubiquitous -- you never find a stall without them, unless it just hasn't been refilled. More commonly, though, it's so overfilled that you waste two or three covers trying to get one out of the holder intact! But when I travel to other cities, there's no seat covers, so I have to use the old trick my mom taught me, where you put strips of toilet paper on the seat for protection (and then hover over the seat anyway -- the paper is just there in case you fall).

Then I try to use the toilet. I'm sitting there all relaxed for a second (because I can't be bothered to hover), and suddenly the toilet flushes. And it doesn't just flush downward like a good little toilet, it flushes so hard that it sprays water (clean? I dunno!) upward. Great. Now my whole butt is wet.

Eventually, I start trying to get some toilet paper. It seems inevitable that I need to start a new roll. You know, that roll that is the size of a car tire? First I try to find the end. That's not easy to do, since it takes an hour to go around the whole tire. Once I find it, I have to unglue it. Why does it need to be glued? Is this a safety feature? Maybe it's a choking hazard? So eventually I get the edge unglued and pull. I get a strip, not a whole square. The strip then goes around and around until I have a streamer fit for a high school homecoming decoration in my hand. Lovely. Once I finally free the whole width of the roll, I pull to get some paper. I get a square. Then the roll jams and I get nothing else. I push on the roll a few more times, get another square, and keep going. And men wonder why women take too long in the bathroom.

Then it's time to dry my hands after washing them. I try to do the environmentally friendly thing by using the blow dryer (pushing the button with my elbow to keep my newly washed hands clean). I get three seconds of hot air and it shuts off. The instructions on these things need to be updated to ensure people know how to use them properly. They should read as follows: 1) push button; 2) rub hands under air stream; 3) wipe hands on pants. That's what we all end up doing, right?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New heights of selfishness

This morning I witnessed a hit and run accident, where a young driver blew through a red light and hit an elderly lady walking across the street. He paused for a second, and then took off. I pulled over to help her and call the police. Only one other car pulled over, out of a full 4 way intersection of people. If I give them the benefit of the doubt, I could assume that some of them figured that a crowd wouldn't be more helpful than two people. I think it's more likely that they thought "hey, I'm late for work. Someone else will help." Shockingly selfish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Selfishness Soapbox

I just got back from Widget Co.'s quarterly Red Cross Blood Drive. Widget Co. makes it very easy to sign up for a time slot, and it generally takes an hour from start to finish. Or longer if you eat a lot of cookies.

I was talking with the vampire who was bleeding me, and she told me that, according to American Red Cross statistics, less than 5% of eligible donors actually donate blood. Ever.

There are certainly some legitimate reasons for not donating. Many people are ineligible for various reasons. Obviously, that's legit. Others have a pathological fear of needles. I'm not talking about "not liking" needles; no one likes them! I'm talking about an actual psychological condition that makes donations impossible. I have a coworker (RacerDude) who wanted to donate blood and get on the National Bone Marrow Registry when another coworker's friend was dying of leukemia. RacerDude is pathologically afraid of needles. Nevertheless, he went down, did all the screening, and sat down for the needle. Unfortunately, every time they came near him with the needle, his blood pressure shot up to the point where they couldn't take blood. But he tried. I respect him more than I can say for that. People who suffer from this type of issue have a legit excuse. On the other side of the spectrum, I once dated a big, strong, thinks-he's-so-tough, Harley-riding, knife-wielding guy who also claimed he was afraid of needles when I invited him to go donate with me. I urged him to go, but he said he just couldn't bear it. Two months later, he started getting tattooed, spending tens of hours under a needle. So let me get this straight, if it benefits you, you're not afraid, but if it benefits someone else, you're afraid...?

Have you ever been to the hospital? Ever had non-elective surgery? Ever had a family member in an auto accident? Then you should recognize the need for blood. Every single person who is eligible to donate should make it a priority to go at least once a year. Widget Co. employees don't even have the excuse that it's hard to find time to go. The company sets it up and lets you go on work time!

If we all do this, then there would be no danger that, when your loved one is in desperate need, they could get turned away. Stop being selfish. It costs you nothing to share it. And you get cookies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

They don't answer, so please stop talking to them.

I'm a woman who, unfortunately, physically takes after her mother. Not too tall, high-arched feet, more than ample hips, and unnecessarily large breasts. It's this last feature that prompted this post, although I'm sure many less-overly-endowed women have the exact same complaint. It's been bugging me for years now. Am I complaining about the bra-strap trenches on my shoulders, the headaches caused by carrying the weight of young children on my chest, the second mortgage I had to take out on my house to afford a really good bra, or the fact that most blouse designers figure anyone who would buy their clothing must be an A cup? No. I'm talking about Boobtalkers.

What is a "Boobtalker" you ask? A Boobtalker is a man who, while holding a conversation with a woman, talks half to her face and half to her boobs. Does the Boobtalker think we can't tell the difference? Does he think we can't see his eyes repeatedly drop the 10-12 inches from our eyes? Does he think this is flattering? Does he think the boobs are fascinated by his conversation skills? Does he expect them to answer? AAAAAUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!

Seriously, guys. Women hate this. Hate. It. I really don't really care if you sneak a glance -- that's human nature. Maybe you're just checking out my necklace or something. Fine. But after that glance, leave it alone. Stop looking. I don't wear low-cut blouses or shirts two sizes too small to highlight the girls. I'm not seeking any attention for them, so leave them alone.

Here at Widget Co, most of my clients are men. Young, old, married, etc, they run the gamut. I would estimate that 20% of my clients and male coworkers are Boobtalkers. Some to a greater extent than others. With some, it's just a quick glance every 15 seconds; maybe this type of guy is just worried that something happened to them while he took a break to look at my eyes. With others, it's half a conversation directed at them. This is so utterly disrespectful and creepy that I actually find myself crossing my arms to protect them from further looks. I shouldn't have to do this!!

From now on, I'm going to call the Boobtalkers on it. I've done it before, just not here at work, but I've had enough. Stop the Boobtalkers ladies!! Fight back. Either call them on it or direct your conversation to their chests. Maybe they'll get the idea. Probably not....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter. Happy Passover.


I hope everyone has a truly blessed Easter and/or Passover this year.


For your (secular) enjoyment, my very favorite easter-time cartoon:


Thursday, April 9, 2009

What IS that???

I work in a fairly large department here at Widget Co. There are about 90 attorneys and maybe another 90 to 100 non-attorneys who are staff at varying levels, from my super-awesome assistant down to the guy who orders pens (who thinks he is a critical asset to the department and works harder than we could ever imagine, and, oh, yeah, he reports to the Big Cheese, but actually he just orders us pens -- more about him in a future post).

I have two attorney colleagues who have a habit that is so unprofessional and annoying that I feel I must vent about it or my head will explode and coat my wall with a new Jackson Pollack-esque painting (and I hate Jackson Pollack's work, so I can't let that happen). I'll give one of these individuals a free pass because he is part of a much earlier generation ... and he could fire me if he wanted to. The other, though, must be called out. Yes, BDub, I'm talking about you.

What does BDub do that's so repulsive? While he's sitting there talking to you, just holding a regular old conversation -- either work-related or snarking on coworkers -- and when you're completely unprepared, he "adjusts" himself. WTF? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. He grabs hold of the crotch of his pants and moves his anatomy over to what is, presumably, a more comfortable position. In front of people. In front of women. In meetings. At lunch. In the hallway. Multiple times. Who thinks this is ok???

We already live in a society that is so biased that it permits men to scratch themselves openly like they're trying to remove a tick from matted fur and still be "manly." As women, we cannot even sneak a scratch without losing our "lady"-ness (assuming we had it to begin with). We must hide in the ladies' room, or an office, or a dark corner, to relieve an itch, no matter how innocent. Very, very unfair. But now we must put up with men re-racking in public??

Women are supposed to have equal rights in our society, and Widget Co. tries very hard to make sure there is parity in the workplace. So does that mean when my bra is cutting into my ribs I can lift up my boobs and move everything around to a more comfortable position? Can I pull a nipple that got off-center back to where it should be? Or can I separate the girls if they start smooshing together? No. It doesn't. Why? Because I'm a lady. And because society says I can't.

But BDub can. Or he thinks he can. I say ENOUGH. If you know BDub, or have your own BDub where you work, start calling him on it. From this day forward, every time BDub touches himself in front of me, I'm going to return the favor. Every. Single. Time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Los Angeles Traffic

I've lived in LA for a decade now, so I'm pretty used to bad traffic. Some days, it's worse than bad. The other day, there were accidents all over the freeways for some reason. No, it wasn't raining, or windy, or even overcast, and there hadn't been a series of truck accidents spilling vaseline all over the roads, but you'd think there had. I had a roommate years ago who firmly believed that it was just rude to have an accident on the freeway. (Of course, he also firmly believed it was normal to be in his late 20s, having never held a job in his life, being supported by his parents, and spending all night at strip clubs "trying to understand why the women choose this life.")

What is it about the sight of an accident that turns the brains of other drivers to pancake batter? Why is it necessary to slow to the speed of a squashed slug, craning one's neck to see the crushed cars? If you just drive normally, you would get home and get a better view on the news tonight, and I wouldn't be sitting behind you hoping your red blood cells spontaneously combust, causing your car to burst into flames, shooting you up and over the divider barricade into oncoming traffic, just so you're out of my way. Seriously, people! Even worse when it's on the other side of the freeway. You're not going to get to see a body -- just car blood. It's not that interesting. But people even do it when it's just a car on the shoulder with legs sticking out under it, presumably with a guy trying to fix his car on the fly. (Ok, if he had really been run over by his own car, and was trapped by the tired treads that had plastered his rib cage to the asphalt, I might think you have a reason to look -- but he hasn't, and he's not, so you don't!) Drive, already!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Whining

I was trying to hold a conversation with a friend last week. I say "trying" because her 3 year-old made it impossible. Wait... actually, it's not the 3 year-old's fault, it's the mother's fault. Let me set the scene for you:

[Phone rings.]

Me: Hello?

Sally (name changed to protect the annoying): Hi, it's Sally.

Me: Oh, hi. What's up? Haven't seen you for a long time!

Sally: I just called... honey, can you please sit there quietly while Mommy talks to her friend? Please? Thank you sweetheart. I just called to see if you're free this weekend to catch a movie or something.

Me: Sure. Got a movie in mind?

Sally: Well, I was.... sweetie, please sit down. No, get off the chair, that's not how we use the chair. [unbelievable screech] Please, sweetie, use your inside voice. No, don't pull on Mommy's shirt. I was thinking we could go see that new... honey, can't you see Mommy is on the phone? Yes, that's a very nice drawing. Go put it on the fridge, ok? Daddy would love to see it. No, put that down and put your drawing on the fridge for Daddy. Please? [screech] Remember, inside voice. Put it on the fridge.

Me: Maybe we should talk later?

Sally: No, I just .... Baby, get down, ok? Please get off Mommy's lap. Please stop pulling on Mommy's shirt. [screech] Inside voice, darling. Get off Mommy's lap.

Me: Um, I think I'm getting a call on the other line.

Sally: But we're in the middle of a conversation. Can't you ignore it?

Me: Okaaaaay....

Sally: As I was saying, we should go see the new Monsters vs. Aliens... honey, I said stop pulling Mommy's shirt. No, please don't pour that milk on the ... no, no, don't cry. I'm not mad at you. Don't cry, sweetie, let's look at your pretty picture.

Me: Well, I'm not much into kids' movies. How about Duplicity?

Sally: Well, that isn't really appropriate for a 3 year-old. Yes, sweetie, I see, no, don't do that... I see it.

Me: Um, she's coming with us?

Sally: Of course. With the economy the way it is, I really can't afford a sitter.

Me: How about if I pay for the sitter?

Sally: Well, I.... [insert 4 minute conversation with 3 year-old]. The thing is, she hasn't been sleeping well and I don't want her to feel like I'm not sympathetic to her feelings.

Me: Hey, sorry. I just got an email from my boss. I need to go out of town this weekend.

Sally: You need to figure out your priorities. Your friends should come first, but you are always distracted by your job.

Sadly, this is probably close to word-for-word. I got an email from her over the weekend. It was a page-long diatribe about how hard it is being a mom, and how no one understands. It went on to detail how her kid is doing in every area of her life -- potty training (aren't they trained by this point?), pre-school (i.e. playtime), choosing her own clothing, drawing, etc. It explained how great her kid is, especially compared to all the other kids in her learning academy (day-care). Sigh.

Newsflash to you moms. Your kid is not the greatest kid ever born. In fact, there's a chance your kid will grow up to be an ax murderer or AIG exec, making you look particularly stupid for thinking he/she is so awesome. I'm happy for you that you enjoy being a mom. Really. But I don't -- let me say it again, I DON'T need a report when your kid takes a crap. I don't need to know that your kid was crabby today. I don't think your kid is particularly talented or special. Every parent thinks that about their own kid, and it can't all be true.

As a kid, if my mom wanted to talk to someone, I was told to be quiet, and I knew there would be consequences if I disobeyed. I was quiet. My parents could shop in a store or eat in a restaurant with three kids without earning the collective hatred of the entire establishment. We were told to behave, and we did. If time-outs work for your kid, great. If not, find something else. Misbehaving, screeching and demanding attention are NOT acceptable.

More important news flash. YOU decided to have kids. Not me. So don't start whining to me when your kid isn't sleeping through the night and you aren't getting any sleep. I don't want to hear it when you have to clean up kiddie puke, or scrub infant diarrhea out of your couch. That's part of being a parent, so you signed up for it. Don't think you'll get sympathy out of me when you have to take off work for doctors appointments and PTA meetings, and when other annoying kids show up at your house to play. You asked for it. Keep it to yourself. You're whining.

By the way, I am exempting brand new parents from my diatribe. You are still learning how to cope, and everything is new and exciting. You get 6 months. After that, it's whining. I'm also exempting the parents who refuse to let their kid(s) take over their lives. My friend Susan and her husband drove cross country for 3 months to visit family when the kid was only a few months old. If she can do that, why can't you go see a two-hour movie without yours?

Bottom line: There's not a conspiracy of secrecy to prevent would-be parents from knowing what it will be like. There's no mystery how kids are conceived. You made the decision, you live with it. And STOP WHINING!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Whiners

I know every now and then we all throw ourselves a little pity party. I guess that's human nature. But people who do it all the time, about everything, drive me crazy. What bugs me most is when people cause (or help cause) or at least support the very problem they're complaining about, and then still complain. At least have a little integrity!

Examples: I know someone who shoplifts because she says the prices at her favorite store are too high. And she'll regularly complain about the prices -- um, hello? Every time you steal, the prices go up! If you're going to steal, expect prices to go up. I have another friend who is a dyed in the wool democrat, and happily votes for only far-left democratic candidates in the already-close-to-socialist California legislature. Then, when they follow their party platform and raise taxes, she complains that taxes are too high. If you're going to vote democrat in California, you lose your right to complain about high taxes. I have an acquaintance whose husband is a general contractor, and who repeatedly complains about losing out on bids to companies that hire "undocumented immigrants" because they pay their workers less and can bid lower. Yet both the husband and the wife are vocal supporters of open borders. Sorry. If you want any and all people to have the "right" to move here, you lose your right to complain when they do, and subsequently take your job. I have a family member who is an ex-smoker, and regularly voices her support for people's right to smoke in public places. She's also the first to complain when someone's smoke touches her, or (when traveling to a state that has no smoking ban) when she is seated at a table in the vicinity of the smoking section. Sorry, you lose your right to complain when you advocate their right to do it.

My point is, vote/support/act on your conscience. That's your right, and I support your right wholeheartedly. But quit whining when that same position comes around to bite you. I don't want to hear it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

You're Saying It Wrong!

Poor pronunciation drives me crazy. Seriously crazy. I’m not talking about people who learned English as a second language – they have a perfectly legitimate reason for mispronouncing words. This is especially true given that, in English, the spelling/pronunciation connection is often attenuated at best. Take for example “laughter” and “daughter” or “bomb” “comb” and “tomb” – why aren't these sets of words pronounced the same? I would be confused too if I learned this a second language.

What I'm talking about, though, is words native speakers of English can’t be bothered to pronounce correctly, even when speaking in a formal setting.

My first example: Library. It’s not “liberry” people!! There’s an R in there. Even worse: February. It’s NOT “Feb-yu-ary.” There’s an R in there. Say it!! How about this one: Temperature. Seems easy enough. Then why do I so often hear “temp-a-chure”?? You can’t eliminate a syllable because you’re lazy!! Don’t add syllables either. For example: Mischievous. It’s pronounced “miss-cheh-vuss” NOT “miss-chee-vee-uss.” Where do people get that extra syllable?? Or how about when people replace one syllable with another, as in: Nuclear? It’s “noo-klee-ar” NOT “noo-kyuu-lar.” Ugh! Or another favorite: Supposedly. It’s not “su-pos-ah-blee.” Read the word.

Ack!! I know some of you have your pet peeve mispronounced words. Feel free to share them in the comments!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ugh, airlines!

Widget Co. frequently sends me to far-flung regions for work. Well, maybe not so far-flung. Mostly our Nation's capital (but not the Capitol, for you grammarians). For example, a few weeks ago, I flew to D.C. for a seminar with some co-workers. My point is, between work and leisure travel, I spend a fair amount of time in airports and on planes, so I think I have a fair idea of what constitutes a "good" travel experience and what constitutes "poor" service by an airline.

Last week, I had to attend a conference in the unfortunate (haha) location of Las Vegas. (Actually, a really great conference with some fun people, location notwithstanding.) Being located in So. Cal, I had the option of driving to the conference, but that's a 4-5 hour drive, and when one is headed to the money-making capital of the world, one wants to get there faster!! So, I decided to fly out of my local regional airport. It's a short flight, about an hour. My travel time should have been as follows: 20 minute drive to the airport, 45 minutes to go through security and get to my gate, a 1 hour flight, and a 10 minute cab ride to my hotel. Then I should have been free to get to the tables to win. (Ok, ok, before you ask: no, I didn't win. But I sure did my part stimulating the economy!!)

First rule of airports: never wear a bulky sweatshirt to the airport -- you're guaranteed a pat-down. Blech. I also hate seeing people wearing flip-flops in the security line. That means they'll be barefoot going through the scanner. Gross!! Great way to pick up ringworm! Then there's always the mom trying to herd 4 kids through the line, all with their jackets, backpacks, shoes, and snotty noses. I feel briefly sorry for her, and then I remember that she chose to have kids. Now I just feel sorry for me, because they're always on my flight.

Next I go to sit and wait for my flight to be called. Should be a nice, relaxing time to read my book, right? No. SuperBusinessMan always sits down next to me and screams into his cell phone. He's obviously saying "look how important I am - do you hear this important conversation??" I think the phone isn't even on. What a dork. Then someone with Cinnabon sits down behind me. Always. I can feel my thighs gaining weight just smelling it. Ack!

Ok, back to my trip. What went wrong with my well-oiled plan? Southwest Airlines, that's what!! All of the airlines are trying to boost their "on time departure" stats, but for the most part they do it by (shock!!) actually departing on time. Not Southwest. Despite knowing that we could not take off until 40 minutes after our scheduled departure time (they announced that once we were seated -- I think it was a matter of waiting for landing space in Las Vegas), they got us all on board, on time, seated and belted, and then pulled away from the gate. Then we sat. For 40 minutes. Just sat. No air conditioning, no drinks, nothing. Just. Freaking. Sat. Ugh!! For their part, they got to mark this as an "on time departure" because we had pulled away from the gate in time. For the rest of us, it meant additional misery.

As if that wasn't enough to remind me why I hate Southwest, let's talk about my return trip. We finished our conference early, and I didn't want to overstimulate the Vegas economy, so I headed to the airport. It used to be that there were always stand-by seats available, so you'd just get on the list when you got to the airport and hang out. No hassle, no cost. Not anymore. Now, the airline that proudly advertises "no charge for the first checked bag" and "no charge for the second checked bag" and "no charge for the window or aisle seat" sneakily charges you to get on the stand-by list!! $37 dollars just to get your name on the list!! That doesn't even guarantee you a seat!! Unbelievable.

I have to fly again this weekend. I'm dreading it. Maybe they'll pleasantly surprise me, right? And maybe pigs will be flying next to our plane.