Friday, May 31, 2002

Not to be stereotypical, but...

I went to the gym last night and there was this guy...wait...backstory first.

Ok, I went to the gym last week and hopped on a stairmaster at the back of the room. This is good and bad. Being in the back of the room lets you watch what everyone else is doing (which can be fun, like watching people at the mall) but it also means I'm the farthest from the little TVs in the front of the room.

So I'm working away, looking around at people when I notice this guy come in. He was, and I hate to use the words, your typical guido. Sorry, I don't know how to say it any other way. He was swarthy, wearing a wife-beater, had two gold chains on and a gold watch - to the gym, let me remind you. He came into the room and plopped himself down on an exercycle directly behind a young sorority girl working out on one of the ellipitcal trainers. Well, as luck would have it she had just finished her workout. Two seconds after he sat down she got off the machine, wiped it off and left.

About 30 seconds after she left the room...guido-man got up and left. Never once having started the machine or pedaled a bit. She was the only non-overweight girl in the room so I guess the remaining view wasn't good enough for him.

So back to my story of last night...

I'm back on the stairmaster and lo and behold! who walks in but my favorite guy. He's wearing a real t-shirt this time but has extra jewlery on and is...talking on a cell phone. Or at least listening on a cell phone. He never actually spoke that I recall. Maybe he had important messages to check. In any case he surveys the room and takes a seat on his exercycle. He sits down side-saddle if you will and continues to hold the phone tightly to his ear. He sits there for 15 minutes, not peddling, not talking, just looking. Then he gets up and leaves.

I see him 20 minutes later as I start to do some weight work. He's walking around, sans cell phone with a towel around his neck. I've never actually seen this guy do anything.

People are weird.
Database fun

So I'm cleaning up our office contacts database, eliminating duplicates etc. and I've come upon several very interesting entries. "Country Stripper" for one which turned out to be a furniture refinisher. And "Crabs". Only in Maryland could you get away with putting "Crabs" in a database and know that people will understand you mean the food.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Handwriting analysis

Do you ever write things down? I don't mean whole sentences. I mean quickly jotted little notes. Like the ones you make trying to write down directions while talking on the phone.

Have you ever forgotten what they were for? Have you ever not been able to read your own writing?

I'm looking over my notepad to see what's left to do today and there's some very criptic writing at the bottom that looks like it says "Go toxic." I have no idea what it means, why I wrote it, what it was supposed to remind me of...well you get the idea.

The closest thing to "toxic" in my life lately was a friend's kitty, who's been very sick. She had to take him to an emergency vet because of some blockage that was causing him to "go toxic." But I wouldn't have taken a note about that at work.

Curioser and curiouser...
Strange and unusual products

I seem to have a knack for finding strange products on the web. Check out this. A "nappy" with the Union Jack Flag. Especially designed for the Queen's jubilee, but also selling like hotcakes for the mad soccer fans of the World Cup.

What a strange world we live in.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

The poor little thing

I'm driving to work this morning and the car in front of me slows and weaves a little and then goes the remaining 15 feet to the stop light. I'm sitting behind this freak wondering what's going on. As I pull up a little I see a turtle trying very hard to cross the road. I think to myself Aha! that's what the problem was. So I'm watching in my rear view mirror as I stop at the light to see if the turtle makes it across.

You know that car that was in front of me? The woman makes a U-turn at the red light zooms back the other direction and hits the turtle. She wasn't slowing down and weaving to avoid the turtle. She was planning to make a U-turn mid-street and I came up behind her and ruined it.

At this point I'm in tears over the turtle only to see 2 more cars hit the poor little thing. Hopefully it was already well out of it's misery at that point.

Sometimes life just sucks.

Friday, May 24, 2002

*GASP* No post from me yesterday!!

As you may have already figured out, this has been a pretty dry week for me. Nothing too outrageous going on, or so mundane that it's easy to make fun of. So, instead I will torture you all with my pet theory...

Why Tori Amos and Trent Reznor are an item

1. On Tori's first album "Little Earthquakes" she makes reference to Nine Inch Nails in her lyrics for Precious Things
2. On Tori's second album "Under the Pink" Trent Reznor does a guest solo in Past the Mission
3. Also on "Under the Pink" there is artwork featuring a spiral made of many bizarre objects, including birds and broken glass, with Tori at the center...hmmm
4. Tori's third album "Boys for Pele" (which SUCKED, btw. Even being the huge fan that I am, I still haven't listened to the whole thing) she's suckling a pig in the artwork, and we all know Trent's affection for pigs in his music...
5. Also on "Boys for Pele" she makes reference to "Pretty Hate Machine" in her song Caught a Light Sneeze
6. Tori and Trent both released their big double albums on the same day.
7. Tori's music has gotten a harder edge while Trent's has gotten softer (ok that one's subjective) maybe they're rubbing off on each other?

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Damn the birds!

I have hanging baskets on my front porch. I buy them every year because they look pretty. Every year though, some sparrow or finch decides to make their own personal high rise out of my flowers.

This year I bought big, beautiful geraniums. Really dense ones. Ones I thought birds couldn't even get into they were so dense. And I waited until I thought all the birds were done nesting before I put them up. I put them up one week ago Sunday. I've checked them almost every day since. Apparently not often enough though.

Yesterday evening when I got home from work there was a baby robin on our porch. Just hanging out. The robins had nested in one of the supports under our deck, btw. He stayed on the porch peeping and pooping until I opened the storm door. Then he flew off, rather clumsily into one of our fireberry bushes. This was no problem. The problem was the pair of finches that took off at the same time from the same general area, and I hadn't seen them sitting around.

I start checking my baskets. At first I don't see anything, but then I notice a few straws poking out of one. I'm thinking, "If they've only just started building, I'll pull it out and they'll go somewhere else." As I peer a little deeper I see it's a whole nest already made! With two eggs yet! Well now I can't evict them. Not once there are children involved.

So another year I get to water very carefully around a little nest, and try not to wig the birds out every time I use our front door.

I think they should change the saying from "rutting like bunnies" to "rutting like finches"...those suckers are FAST!

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Ever have one of those days...

There is just not much going on today. Thank goodness for Yahoo's most emailed content page. You can read about a new breed of featherless chicken, a transvestite Roman unearthed in Britain, see pictures of baby tigers and oh so many other things.

Monday, May 20, 2002

All the pretty little horses

We were lucky enough to go the Preakness on Saturday (thank you, thank you Chris!), and lucky enough not to have to sit in the infield. I've never been to the Preakness before, I've never been to a horse race before, and it was definitely an interesting event.

The day started off with rain that eventually stopped before we actually got to the track. But, the high for the day was set to reach 60. It was a little nippy. Overall it really didn't affect our day, but the souvenir folks didn't sell nearly as many t-shirts and Black-eyed Susans(the cold drink, not the flower) as they would've liked. On the other hand the sweatshirts, and berets (yes, like the ones at the olympics) sold like hotcakes.

Andy told me before we left that I should wear a "sun bonnet." I looked out the window at the clouds and just laughed. He said all the women wore sun bonnets, and got them all decked out with flowers too. I thought he was kidding. So what's the first thing I see when we get to the track? Damned if the women aren't wearing big straw hats, with fake Black-eyed Susans in them. There were even some creative folks that had made hats to look like horses, with ears, big googly eyes in the front, fake flowers for the mane down the back and had their hair in ponytails to look like...well...ponytails. They were with a man who was wearing a crown. We couldn't decide if he was supposed to be the king of the Houyhnhnhms, or if he was trying to make a reference to the triple crown.

So one of the truly amazing parts of the day was just exactly how bad I am at picking horses. Andy managed to win us back $15, I managed to lose us about $6.
We watched about 8 races before the actual Preakness Stakes, and in between go inside to buy junk food, use the restroom, placing a bet, and actually sitting to watch the races, I got to see quite a bit of humanity.

The infield was a giant college party, at least that's what it looked like through the binoculars. Shoulder to shoulder people, a 98Rock tent, souvenirs, beer tents, beachballs flying though the air, and about as many port-a-potties as you could possibly imagine. When the beachballs popped, the toilet paper from the port-a-potties made the rounds.

With us up in the bleachers, the party was slightly different, but there were still the silly drunks. Like the woman who decided her pretzel and mustard would look good on my jacket. And whose husband apologized to me about 8 times and then turned to his wife and said "Well, at least they didn't curse us out...if it'd been me I would've been swearing at you left and right." Then 10 minutes later he tapped me on the shoulder and asked "You don't hate us do you?" I didn't even know these could I hate them for something that was obviously an accident? Maybe they thought I would sue for emotional distress.

The sun came out just in time for the Preakness race and I placed my bet on Number 12, Proud Citizen, to win. Andy tried to convince me to place a bet on him just "to show" because he didn't think he would win. I was stubborn though and stuck to it. Then the race got started and we watched as Number 11 took off flying and the pretzel woman behind me screamed her head off for Number 11 to "MOVE!" Then as they went around the backside of the track Number 12 started to make his move. As they came back around to the front Number 12 had pushed into the lead and I was the one screaming my head off between telling Number 12 to "MOVE!" and poking Andy saying "See! See!" Of course if you watched the race, or have seen the results , you'll know that not only did Proud Citizen not win, he got beat out of second by a complete unknown, Number 2, Magic Weisner. And War Emblem came in first, putting him in a good position to win the Triple Crown.

So if I'd listened to Andy and bet to show instead of to win, I would've come away $15 richer. If we get to go next year, I'll definitely listen to Andy a little more, and I'll bring my straw hat.

Friday, May 17, 2002

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace. Where Hydrogen is built into Helium at a temperature of millions of degrees. The sun is hot. The sun is not a place where we could live. But here on Earth there'd be no life, without the light it gives.
Lori's mentioned (a couple of times) the quantity of Hello Kitty items she's been able to find compared to what she was actually looking for. I've been wondering if she's seen the Hello Kitty Rice Cooker. Sounds like it would fit in beautifully with the rest of her apartment. In case you're interested there's also a coffee maker, waffle iron, 2 types of toaster, and a television. Hello Kitty!

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Ever wonder why popcorn kernel skins are exactly the right shape to slide between your tooth and gum? And stick there? For days?
Old jokes

You know those jokes in high school that were just between you and a friend and that were OH so funny?

I must be getting old, because I remember the jokes, I remember that they were funny, but I don't remember how we got to the joke in the first place, or what it meant.

For instance:
The Seven Dwarves of Jiffy Lube: No idea, I just remember it was funny at the time.
Grover the Clover - It rhymes, hence the humour: this was funny just because Lee said "hence."
The Banana Snake that lives in my brain: Again, no idea.

At lot of these made their appearance in my "Senior Will" which was basically a way for the seniors to inform each other they each had private jokes, and could exclude somebody, somewhere. Ahhh the thrills of high school. Remind me again why it was fun?

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Have you all noticed that since the iMac came out, virtually everything now comes in those fun translucent colors? Well if you thought the trend would stop at telephones, desk lamps, and were wrong. Check out iGum, found in Japan and exemplifying sales stretching to the limits.

For those of you who think things from Japan are hip, check out the rest of this guy's site when you've got a chance. There are several sections, Fetish - products from Japan, Sold Out - Celebrities hocking products in Japan that they would never do at home, and Canned - weird bottled drinks from Japan. All intensely amusing.
Great literary works of the Simpsons

Meditations on being 8, by Lisa Simpson

I had a cat named Snowball. She died! She died!
Mom said she was sleeping. She lied! She lied!
Why oh why is my cat dead?
Why didn't that truck hit me instead?

I had a hampster named Fluffy. He died! He died!

Bart's play
Kippers for breakfast, Aunt Helga? Is it St. Swithin's Day already?'
`'Tis,' replied Aunt Helga...

Tuesday, May 14, 2002


I've been working in a variety of functions in Human Resources for the past 4 years and along the way I've picked up a lot of useful information. Unfortunately, in an area like HR you also seem to be subjected to the crap of management-o-rama.

I'm sure lots of you have played board room bingo, or at least kept track of the extreme number of buzzwords that seem to come out an executive's mouth. Most of this I can ignore, because it's all to make them feel important unto themselves anyway. But when I get something in print, and read through it, and see those kind of buzzwords in such a huge quantity, it gets a little harder to swallow. Today I got a book of classes from Cornell, they've got some interesting looking HR seminars coming up so I started to leaf through the pamphlet.

Course HR301
Strategic Human Resources Planning
"Leading organizations use their strategic human resources plan to assure that they will have the "people power" in place to achieve their strategic and business plans. You need a systematic planning approach to assure that your organization will have the right people...with the right the right time. In this workshop, a human resources leader will learn to..."

Now that we've defined the purpose of Human Resources and managed to put the word "strategic" in as many times as humanly possible in one paragraph, let's look at the class highlights.

- Think strategically about human resources issues
- Link human resources planning to corporate strategic and business planning
- Identify the major human resources strategic issues and analyze their impact on the organization

There's more, but you get the idea. I think if I had to sum it up, I'd guess that this course is about Strategic Human Resources Planning. What do you think?

I personally have lost my impression that Cornell is a school for intellectuals.

Monday, May 13, 2002

Hmmm...I had a lovely little soapbox blog all typed up, but the more I re-read, the less satisfied I was with the way it turned out. And the more I read it, the more I realized I wasn't exempt from the subject and therefore had no real right to preach and only succeeded in making myself feel guilty.

So you've all been moral high-ground for me today.

Let's talk about something nice instead...let's talk about flowers.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

I continue to be impressed with the food industry. Not only do they know the date that my yogurt is going to expire, they know the exact minute. I happened to look at my yogurt lid the other morning and saw the expiration date, then noticed that stamped right after it was 11:34 AM. Amazing!

Friday, May 10, 2002

Do you ever have days where you just have too much energy? Where you feel like if you don't get up out of this chair you're going to scream?
Andy quoted "The Simpsons" on his website yesterday. I have to say right now, that that is my all-time favorite show. Quotes tend to pop into my head at the weirdest moments, and I think I could relate anything to some episode or other. I've been dying to go out and buy the trivia game, the version of Clue where Smither's is Mrs. White, and the rubix cube shaped like Homer's head.

Does that make me too much of a geek? Oh well, I don't really care 'cause the show is just too good! You can check out this really cool Simpsons stuff site if you're as much a geek as I am.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Would you like that in a larger size ma'am?

I went to the mall at lunch today. When I go shopping I'm not really used to being ignored. In fact the opposite, I'm used to gearing up to say "No thanks I'm just looking."

Just about the only store where I've been able to shop in peace without being harrassed is Ann Taylor's since whenever I go in there I'm usually wearing my schlubbiest outfit ever and they don't seem to think I can afford their lovely clothes. It always seems to shock the salespeople when I actually buy anything from that store.

In any case today was very unusual in that EVERY store I went into the salespeople ignored me. The worst was in American Eagle. I walked in and started browsing. After a little rumaging I found what I came for. A cotton sweater! On sale! $20! Bingo!

I started looking for a salesperson to let me into the dressing room...there was some guy that I just saw letting another girl one anywhere. I walked towards the front of the store. AHA! That's him folding clothes! As I walk towards him he looks up... I say "Hi" and as I'm opening my mouth to ask to get into the dressing room he says "Hi" and turns his back to me and starts to walk away. What service! Now I noticed he had no problem letting the pre-pubescent 12 year into the dressing room. So I'm holding this sweater in my hand like an idiot, and very frustrated, I start to chase after him through the clothes racks saying very loudly "Could I please try this on?" He turns around flustered, wearing this look like"OH you want something? I thought you were just a lonely old woman flirting with me." He lets me into the dressing room.

I don't know if the college kids are home and "working" for the summer and that explains why there was absolutely no service anywhere today, or if the sales staff at this particular mall is extra surly. Maybe I just looked too old to be trying on clothes in American Eagle.
It's a rainy day and ever since I got up this morning I've been convinced it's Friday. It's not unfortunately... so back to work.

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Rather bizzare

I majored in Spanish in college and I like to try and keep up as much as I can, so that I didn't waste 4 years and a whole lot of money. So once in a while I'll watch Univision (Sabado Gigante!) or read a book in Spanish.

I've got a couple of methods for reading untranslated literature. Sometimes I'll read the whole thing through, painstakingly with my dictionary. Sometimes I'll read the book through, sans dictionary, then buy the English equivalent and see what I've missed or if I agree with the translation. Sometimes though, I'll really cheat and read the English version first.

That's what I'm doing right now, with Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits. It's been on my reading list for a couple of years and when I was shopping for books for jury duty I grabbed an English copy for fun. I read a different book that day so I've just gotten around to reading this one. All I have to say it is one of the most bizzare things I've ever read. I'm so glad I didn't get cocky and try to read the Spanish version first. People and dogs die left and right, there's a daughter who looks like a mermaid, but isn't, and then gets killed and is transformed back into the mermaid she never was???? HUH? If I'd been trying to read it in Spanish I would've been completely lost, or only on page two because I would have had to look up every other word because the context just isn't there for me to pick it up from the rest of the sentence.

I've read some bizarre stuff in Spanish before, a couple of really cool short stories by Almodovar, that were strange and twisted and you weren't quite sure which part of the story was real. And Like Water for Chocolate which wasn't so much bizarre but you had to swallow the fact that it had to be read as a folk story, you know the whole "magic realism" BS.

But this book is just strange. It switches perspectives, so that the narrator changes from section to section and not always at a the beginning of a new chapter, sometimes between two paragraphs. The closest thing I've ever read to this before was As I Lay Dying and I couldn't even get half way through that thing. "My mother is a fish." WHAT?

So I'm struggling away with this thing because if it stays in one perspective long enough the story is pretty interesting. But I almost threw the thing away last night when the dog was killed with a butcher knife and the fiancee had it turned into a rug. That's just not right.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Little Kitty Face?

I apparently talk in my sleep, and more often than not I laugh or giggle. I terrified my roomates in college by waking them up to long loud cackles at 3 in the morning. This is also something it looks like I'm not going to grow out of like I did my sleepwalking. I still giggle. Every night, according to Andy. If he catches me just right he can ask "What's so funny?" and I'll actually answer in my sleep. If he keeps talking to me long enough though I'll start to wake up and get pissy.

Last night was no different and to give you an idea of what the poor man has to live with this is roughly what happened. He comes into the room. I start to giggle. He asks "What's so funny?" I reply The little kitty face... "What little kitty face?" At this point I start to become slightly coherent and get pissy. You know. The cat at Middlebury. "What cat? What are you talking about?"

Now up until this point I don't remember a thing. The next bit I do remember as being sort of awake and asking Why do you care? Just let me sleep! It's just a cat!

In the back of my mind somewhere part of me wondered why I was talking to him about a cat, but after he stopped talking I zonked out like I always do. I never remember any of it the next day, Andy will usually fill me on what the latest topic of sleep talk was about. Sometimes it's hysterical but most of the time it's just weird.

I get to make fun of him though, because once in a blue moon he'll say something in his sleep. My favorite was the rhyming night "What about the keys? What about the peas? What about the bees?" And just about everything else that rhymed.

Maybe it was a flashback to his Sesame Street days. I couldn't even begin to guess why I was dreaming about a cat in Vermont.

Monday, May 06, 2002

The rather annoying chatty bird in the lift

I mentioned a little while back that the women in this office building seem to like to talk. To random people. When I first started working here people talked to me in the elevator. Small talk basically, "I like your outfit" or "It's awfully hot today". But it threw me for a loop. At my old job, we had the whole building so you knew the person who was standing next to you, or at least knew they worked for the same company.

So, what inspired these women to talk to some strange person they never met and tell her that they liked her outfit? It's not a bad thing, in fact it's quite friendly, but I never know when I step into the elevator if I'm going to have a deep conversation, or a quiet ride down.
The purple foot

People are strange. I'm often reminded of that, although it usually hits me when I'm at the mall.

On Saturday, we were driving back from Home Depot (personal note: NEVER go to Home Depot on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, because everyone else has had the same gardening urges that I had.) and in the car in front of us someone was sitting with their foot out the window. I've seen people do this before, especially on nice days, but the unusual thing was that it was just one foot and on this one foot was a purple sock.

Now if you're going to roll down the windows and enjoy the breeze between your toes, wouldn't you remove your sock? They didn't. So we followed the little white Ford Escort almost the whole way home pondering the deep philosophical meaning of the purple foot.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

The war of the clocks

I've noticed that on Monday this week someone reset the clock on our microwave to military time. Early Tuesday when I came in, it was reset to regular time.

It's been switching back and forth all week. I can't figure out, why in the 10 months I've been here, it's never mattered before. And why, it's suddenly started mattering now. I also don't know who the two parties are that keep changing the clock, I've never actually seen anybody doing it. But when I heated up my lunch today it was on standard time, and just now I walked past and it was on military time.Maybe it's all some crazy practical joke meant to drive me mad. Maybe it's some petty argument between two of the guys, although I didn't realize guys could be this passive/agressive.

At my last job there was the coffee war, complete with signs and nasty emails, and fun-filled office gossip about the perpetrators. Some people wanted the coffee made with one package of instant coffee, while others preferred two. That went on for months, until whoever was making the strong stuff brillantly decided to put a sign on the coffee pot after they made it saying "Two Packet Coffee". And peace prevailed. Eventually, we got one of those kickass little machines that let you make your own single cup of flavored coffee, so it didn't matter anymore. I'm not a huge coffee fan (ok barely at all) but once in a while I get a craving and I sure do miss that little machine.

I guess every office has it's quirks and this is the newest one for us, although I still can't quite figure out why it matters so much which format the time is in.
I know everyone has a moment like this with their bosses, but it doesn't make it feel any better when it happens...

I was asked to put together a report for one of our employees, a summary report for his 401K account. Cool. I like doing the HR part of my job better than any other, and I don't get to do it as often as I'd like.

So I put the report together, using numbers from a previously approved report that I had created, and gave it to the employee and walked him through where the numbers came from and what they meant. I was feeling pretty good.

My boss called me into his office..."Can I get a copy of what you gave him?" Sure, no problem (I'm thinking to put in the records). I bring in another copy of the report and a copy of the report I pulled the numbers from. He reviews my numbers, walks through them with me, determines I was completely right in what I'd done...then asks that in future I make sure to run anything like this by him before giving it to the employees.


My vindication? I caught some mistakes on a report of his this morning. Maybe he doesn't think I'm incompetent, maybe he's just thinking "It's very easy to make a mistake, even on something simple." At least I hope that's what the thought process was....

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Don't you love the way little kids tell stories? Everything is of equal importance, it's always told in a monotone, and they just don't quite grasp the idea of pronouns.

Is that your dog? It's a nice dog. I used to have a dog. It died. I had a hotdog once. And I was eating the hotdog, but then this lady took the hotdog. But it was my hotdog. And she ate the hotdog, but it was my hotdog, and then I didn't have a hotdog. I have to potty.