Tuesday, November 29, 2005


By now you've caught on that I'm easily annoyed, although I like to think I limit my frustration to meaningful instances of stupidity or inefficiency... Oh, who am I kidding. Little things tick me off constantly.

But you know what I really hate right now? The way people overuse "LOL" like it's a punctuation mark.

Personally? I choose not to use abbreviations (or faces made of keyboard symbols), because I'd rather challenge myself to be expressive just using words. If you don't get that I'm joking, I need to find another, better way to word it so that you do. I'm a writer, not an annotator.

But I've been online for many years, so I know the lingo - ROTFLMAO and the whole shebang. And, yeah, maybe when you're in a hyper-paced chat room, trying to respond to three or four people at once, that kind of shorthand is convenient. But, using LOL after almost every sentence? No excuse.

Laughing Out Loud. See, the idea behind that was you're letting the other person know you're laughing at something he or she just typed you. (I prefer Hahaha, but I'm too literal.) If you want to write LOL after something you yourself wrote, to show the reader you think it's funny? It's a bit like a comedian laughing at her/his own punchline... but if that's what you want to do, I'm not going to stop you.

But using it when there's no laughing involved? Like this: "I just changed the baby's diaper for the third time this morning, LOL." Excuse me? I'm missing the humor in that line - humor so strong you had to stop typing to laugh at yourself. How about just an exclamation point. "I just changed the baby's diaper for the third time this morning!" See, that's what you really meant. It's surprising! Shocking! Annoying! Stinky! Just about anything - except really, really not laughable.

(Random sidenote - is it possible to discuss the use of exclamation points without thinking of Seinfeld's Elaine, who broke up with her boyfriend because he used too many !!!'s in his writing?)

I admit it, I'm a snob. If I'm surfing blogs and see an entry filled with LOLs, I keep going right past it. I haven't been disappointed, either - the blogs I read most often manage to keep me entertained without peppering their paragraphs with meaningless catch-all phrases.

Don't even get me started on people who can type four syllable words, spelled correctly, but dump in "u" or "ur" in the same sentence as if saving those two little key strokes makes them look anything but ridiculous. Hey, I said, don't get me started. I'm done.

Starbucks rules.

Sometimes I think I am hopelessly schizoid. I am at heart a anti-commercialism kind of gal, a member of the organic food coop, a patron of the locally-owned bookstores and video stores that I have to walk defiantly past Blockbuster and Barnes & Noble to get to, and I am proud to say I've never shopped at a Walmart. In the conservative financial services world I work in, I'm usually the closest to a hippy chick around.

On the other hand, I love the Gap and Old Navy, regularly upgrade my personal electronic devices, and am a hardened devotee of Starbucks. As one of my brother's friends once put it, "I hate Bierkenstocks. I can't live without my kitten heels." So at the coop, I was always he out of place chick in the Gap leather jacket.

I recognize that Starbucks has a record of obliterating local Mom & Pop coffee houses. Our food coop (of course) once featured a story in the member newspaper about a couple who studied artisan baking, put together a business plan to open a bakery, was just about to sign a lease on an ideal location on the west coast, when Starbucks swooped in and offered the landlord multiples of the asking price. Story ends with their move to Brooklyn and opening of a bakery and eventually three retail locations. (Since publication of the story, at least one if not all of those locations have closed, and yes, they were all located in neighborhoods with Starbucks. I don't know yet how I feel about that, because in at least one location, they've been replaced by another "Mom & Pop" local coffee/bakery takeout/cafe that is doing extremely well. Kudos to them - the capitalist in me approves.)

But still, I give myself permission to love Starbucks, because:
- They offer soy milk, and many other places don't. I don't drink regular milk so I go where I can get the soy.
- They offer endless iced choices, all available decaf. Since I had to give up caffeine, I've discovered how difficult it is to find good decaf iced anything.
- Their staff is always friendly and courteous.
- They are actively involved in community development, both at the local store level, and in the countries where they purchase their coffee.
- They are constantly being commended for positive employment and hiring practices, including employee benefits. The anti-Walmart.

And... They called me yesterday to let me know that last week's problem with my card was a computer error. They replaced the card ($25 instead of the $20 they owed me) and bought me another free drink today. Throughout the entire ordeal, they were professional and pleasant.

Now if they could only sell CDs for competitive prices...


Apologies to the cast and crew of "Mansfield Park" (1999) and "Northanger Abbey" (TV, 1986) who were simply off my radar. But in my own defense, I don't think that they were marketed very widely in the U.S.

And... apparently, Britain's ITV is light years ahead of me, and has announced plans to air televised versions of "Persuasion," "Mansfield Park," and "Northanger Abbey" in the fall of 2006.

Bravo! (And I mean that literally, as Bravo tv is as likely a US home for the tv movies as A&E.)

Now can I be greedy, and suggest Caffeine Free Diet Coke with Lime?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pride & Newer Coke

A new film adaptation "Pride & Prejudice" - like Coca-Cola Zero, do we really need another? I have been pretty happy with Diet Coke and Colin Firth, thank you very much. You know, there are other Jane Austen novels - how about "Northanger Abbey" or "Mansfield Park"? Variety is good. See: Diet Coke with Lime. Do you want to be a punch line, like New Coke, or for that matter, Gus Van Sant's "Psycho"?

Ah, but when tastebuds are weakened from illness, any kind of low calorie coke product settles the stomach. And when it's a holiday weekend and you're too sick to travel but okay with hopping across the street for a movie, any flick you haven't yet seen will do. Esp. at matinee prices.

Turns out, I really enjoyed the movie. Who knew?

Favorite part: how natural the women looked. No hair gel, blow dryer, extensions, mascara. Like women likely looked then. And the men - ill-fitting, scraggly messy wigs. Sets, too, were realistic - ragged, lived in, not a velvet roped set piece (save Darcy's house, but it's Darcy's house, you know? Liberties allowed.)

Rattle, sniff, sniff. End of long weekend, not end of cold.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ruminations on being sick

Bad thing about being on cold medicine round the clock: not really sure how bad the cold is because the symptoms are masked - did it really hit full on? Misjudgments in pill-popping time bring on cracks in the facade - a sudden runny nose during a movie because I forgot I'd need another dose before the two hours played out. No, I wasn't crying, I have a cold.

Bad thing about having a cold on a long weekend when you live alone and don't have to see anyone - you don't realize how bad your voice is until you answer the phone. Good thing - no one gives a shit what you look like. You can even go to the movies (across the street, at night, in the dark theater) with no makeup, puffy eyes, ragged sweat clothes, and a pocketful of tissues and it's as comfy as being in your own living room. Only the screen is bigger! My god, this Darcy is cute. Who knew?

Time for another dose.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Ah, so here I am, in the midst of my first four day weekend since I started my new job. And what happens? On Tuesday, I come down with a cold. I had tentative plans for traveling upstate for Thanksgiving dinner, which I canceled. It's fine - lying around in a warm apartment with my computer & DVDs and knitting is what I need right now. I'm somewhat of a grinch when it comes to this particular holiday. I think it stems from my first five years after college, working retail, which killed much of the holiday spirit. Thanksgiving was the day off between a busy work day, and an even busier one. (Don't let anyone sell you the old wives' tale that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the season; it's a sudden spike in a steady increase that peaks the Saturday and Sunday before Christmas, and Christmas Eve.) I also worked at that world famous store that invited its employees to march in its world famous parade, so Thanksgiving also became a "ROAD TRIP!" We boarded a bus at 3 am in the parking lot of our upstate branch and rode down to "the city," to don clown makeup and prance down Broadway long enough to collapse in exhaustion on the bus home. Thanksgiving food was mimosas and donuts on the way down, and a thruway rest stop on the way home.

I doped myself up on cold medicine in order to go see "Rent" yesterday. I'm not sure what to think. I don't usually like musicals. Musical movies are even less appealing. But a friend took me to see Rent on Broadway back in its first year, and I fell in love. I went back twice more with other friends and family. I listened to the soundtrack constantly. Every time I've seen the trailers in the past few months I was jumping out of my seat with anticipation. But... I don't know. Maybe it was the cold medicine. Maybe I need to see it another time. But it didn't quite work for me. I still loved the music. Loved Jesse L. Martin. But the magic didn't really translate to the screen. I think I would have preferred just a film of the stage production - the added sets and locations didn't expand the story, but seemed to underscore how artificial it was. It's the old, "Why is that man riding down the street on his bicycle and... singing?"

My office is closed today, but here I am, 6 am, wide awake. Took some nighttime cold medicine and hope to pass out shortly. It's 22 degrees out, and I'm looking forward to not leaving the apartment at all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Get a receipt.

A few months ago, I got a $10 Starbucks card as a gift, and have kept adding money to it as it runs out. Mostly because it's easier when I'm in the office to grab my ID card and my Starbucks card than to mess with money and change. (I don't always have pockets.) Yesterday, as is my custom, I added $20 and then ordered my coffee. The woman at the register asked if I wanted a receipt, and I said "no." My wallet is always stuffed with receipts I never look at again, and it seems unnecessary. I can always check my Starbucks card balance online, which I've done a few times to remind me of when I last loaded it.

Today, however, when I went to pay, I was told I only had $1.14 on my card. Impossible. I got upset (understandably?) because it meant I was basically out $20. The manager tried to help me, but as he pointed out, without a receipt, I didn't really have proof. I couldn't remember which employee had waited on me. They have 4 registers running in the mornings and it's pretty chaotic. Since I go there several times a week, they've all waited on me and all look pretty familiar.

Anyway, he investigated it and said that the computer showed I made a $20 purchase yesterday. Which I didn't. (What costs exactly $20 anyhow? Even the Bob Dylan 2 CD set is $19.95.) I think he believed me, but it seems that either the woman on the register made a mistake, or she intentionally entered it wrong and took my $20. (Although he claims the register wasn't short, and if she recorded a purchase... I don't know, my brain hurts.) By this point, I was tired of the whole thing, needed to get back to work, so just left my business card along with the Starbucks card so he could look into it some more.

I did get today's latte for free. But I might just be out $16. Moral of the story: always get a receipt. If I had, and it were apparent that she input something wrong on the register, I could have addressed it right then and there.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Last fall, I went to a writing workshop at Francis Ford Coppola's mountain resort in Belize. The lodge is a two hour drive from the airport in Belize City, with the latter forty minutes or so over extremely rough dirt and rock roads. Several of my fellow attendees got so car sick from the ride up that they contemplated shelling out extra $$ to ride in the lodge's private plane back down to the airport, but none of us ultimately did.

Over the weekend, tropical storm Gamma hit Belize:
In western Belize, the private plane belonging to Coppola's resort, Blancaneaux Lodge, crashed Saturday morning, killing the Belizean pilot Rene Ram and two guests, said Kathleen Talbert, a spokeswoman for the filmmaker. Talbert, who declined to release the names of the guests, said the wreckage was found on the property of a neighboring resort.

I read elsewhere that the passengers were a couple on their honeymoon.

Goodbye, Green

I've been tormented over the past month or so by cloudy green water in my aquarium - an algae bloom that just won't go away. I would change the water, and for a day or two it would be moderately clear, but then by day three or four it's muddy soup water again. (The fish are okay, though - all necessary tests show decent water quality - but if I can't see them through the green water, how can I really know they are all doing well?) I tried a number of solutions, including some over-the-counter remedies, and nothing. Green, unsightly green.

Enter the Destroyer. Algae Destroyer, to be exact. Fourteen drops last evening and within one hour, the water was crystal clear. Excellent!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Something about Harry

Yup, I went to see "Harry Potter" this weekend. I bought my ticket early and then went to the nail salon right across the street for a manicure. I had plenty of time, even with a short wait, but about 30 minutes before showtime a line started to form on the sidewalk. Yikes! I didn't quite make it through one 5 minute cycle under the hand dryer, and I was out the door. To stand in the cold for fifteen minutes, yes. But that's part of the fun! As a guy standing behind me said, "This is the most eclectic Harry Potter line I've ever seen." He wasn't from the neighborhood.

I read an interview with the director, Mike "Four Weddings & A Funeral" Newell, who said that he felt he could add a British schoolboy sensibility that the first two films lacked. The reality is messier, not the clean bright Hollywood shine that Chris Columbus gave Hogwarts in movies one and two. And then, of course, Alfonso "Y Tu Mama Tambien" Cuaron directs #3, and his is gritty, so it's already been done.

So I don't know that's why Newell decided to make his film look - I want to say dark, but it was more, I'd say, dim. Like scenes weren't lit quite enough, or at least were in more natural lighting. It might just be the fault of the equipment in the theater I was in. I don't know. But, for example, in one scene Neville is standing in the shallow water of a lake (harvesting plants, I think) and you can't make out that it's him because the water is so bright and white and he is a shadow. I don't think it's supposed to be ominous - just realistic looking. An entire other scene takes place outside on the lawn, where the students aren't sitting in the sunshine, but under a canopy of trees. You can see glimpses of bright sky through the dark leaves above them, but they are in the shade.

I sorta liked the look of it, but also thought that this thing is going to look like shit on a small tv like mine.

What more can I say? "Goblet of Fire" was my favorite of the books, and it makes a great movie. I loved it.

Note: I overheard two people at work making the old tired comment that the actors are getting old, will they have to recast? I didn't say anything, because I don't really know them, nor do I want all of my early interaction at work to be correcting people, but I am assuming that they haven't read the books. Because each is one year at school - so Harry & the gang are one year older. So as long as they keep making a movie a year, how exactly is that going to be an issue? Yes, the actors are starting to look adolescently gawky, but the characters are starting to act adolescently gawky. It's not like the actor who plays poor Walt on "Lost," who is now a year older than when his character landed on the island 48 days ago. Yeah, that will be a hard one.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


On the subway yesterday morning, I was standing over two young girls, probably fourteen or fifteen years old. They were reading a fashion-type magazine, and although I couldn't see the headline of the article, it appeared to be about body image. There was a series of pictures of really skinny girls and captions pointing out how sickly thin isn't attractive. Just when I'm wondering what magazine it is, pretty impressed that they are taking a stand, one girl says to the other: "That's bullshit. Nobody is ugly when they're too thin, except for that skank Tina, and that's just because she's a filthy whore."


Anyway, while the article failed to change the perception of those two, I'm still curious as to where it was. It must be impossible to counsel young girls on positive body image and healthy eating/exercise options when rail-thin women like Nicole Ritchie and Brittany Murphy and Mischa Barton are on all of the covers of the magazines. So who was on the cover of the one they were reading? Somebody normal-sized? I doubt it. It seems hopeless to try to change any of this - it's so pervasive in the culture. Will it take another Karen Carpenter tragedy to knock some sense into everyone?

I once stumbled across a blog where two teenage girls discussed their constant drive to lose weight. They freaked out if they ate a fat-free yogurt at lunch ("More time at the gym 2night, I'm afraid") and posted pictures of their flat stomachs. It sounds like a parody, but sickeningly it wasn't. You know, I never was thin (except for when I was a toddler) and I've struggled with weight issues my whole life, but that shouldn't mean I am unqualified to know when too thin is too thin. And yet, if overweight me had said something to those two skinny teenagers yesterday? They probably would have laughed, said something like, "What do you know, fatso?" and gone on their way.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Reaching back in my memory

I didn't see a movie on the past two weekends, which has me primed for just about anything. Luckily, the new Harry Potter movie opens today, and it's playing in my neighborhood theater. Yippee! I saw each of the other three there, and it's great - as I've said before, our little theater attracts a really good crowd, even when it's all kids. I really enjoy seeing kids' movies with kids, because their reactions, even if they're vocal, are infectious.

(Note: I mean reasonably well-behaved children with attentive parents, not the crazy types I have written about at the big multiplex up the street.)

I never did write about the last movie I saw, "Capote." That was the film where the blind man sat in front of me, by the way. (Nobody guessed, nobody won. The prize was fabulous, but it's all mine.) At first I wasn't feeling it - I couldn't grasp what the movie was about. But I think I wanted it to be about the crime itself (even though not one review, interview, or press piece intimated that it would be.) I never read "In Cold Blood" or saw the movie, so I don't know much about the actual case, and my initial expectation was that "Capote" would explain it to me. It doesn't. But it doesn't have to. After readjusting my view, I realized that the film is about the process of writing the book, and how that affected Capote. Affected? I mean, obsessed, bewildered, captivated, destroyed. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is great in the role; Catherine Keener isn't on screen enough (you know I love her) but it's not her movie. (If they do make a film about Harper Lee and the writing of "To Kill A Mockingbird" - or, as one of Capote's pals calls it, "that bird book" - then it will be Keener's turn. I know, they'd probably hire Renee Zewelleger. Sigh.)

Where was I? Oh, it's a great film for a writer (or really any artist) to see, as it asks some interesting questions about the motivation behind the creative process.

I am going to put "In Cold Blood" (the book) on my Amazon list. We'll see if anyone bites.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ellis G. Exhibit

I received a message from Ellis G. re: an art exhibition of his work going on in Brooklyn right now. I originally wrote about his sidewalk art here.

More info below - I'm reposting it here.

For Immediate Release:

KILI is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by

Continues through 12/1/05 @ KILI
81 Hoyt St. bet. State St. and Atlantic Ave. Bklyn NY
A,C,G Trains to Hoyt/Schermerhorn or 2,3,4,5,B,D,N,R,Q to Atlantic/Pacific

Artist's Statement:
I have never experienced an art form more all consuming than graffiti. At one point, graffiti had a very firm grip on my life and lifestyle- it was the last thing on my mind before going to bed and the first thing that came into my head every morning. From acquiring supplies and photographing a finished work, to wandering the city trying to find the perfect spot to paint and marking the terrain along the way, graffiti motivated almost every move I made. Even perils with the law, fights with rival writers and injuries sustained while out on missions couldn't have ended my relationship with graffiti. I still love it to this day.

The death of a friend and fellow graffiti(HEC UFC REST IN PEACE) artist while we were bombing the F train tunnel between Bergen and Carroll Street in 2001 caused me to take a less active role in graffiti. Deeply affected by the tragic loss I chose to channel my energy into other artistic endeavors. Since then, I have participated in a number of group shows displaying the talents of graffiti artists as well as traditional artists. While I use canvas, wood, metal as well as found objects, I remain true to my roots and try to incorporate the essence of graffiti into everything I produce. I continue to use the tools of the trade (paint markers, spray paint, homemade writing implements) in my work; while I have transitioned to the less controversial use of chalk for my street art.

This show is dedicated to the graffiti life and the ongoing struggle graffiti artists continue to face today. I have massive respect for the forefathers of graffiti who paved the way and pioneered this art form (do the research). The graffiti writer's struggle is not limited to running from the police and fighting court cases, but it also lies in the ongoing battle we face to transition from being understood by mainstream society as a "vandal" to a legitimate and commercial artist. Even though graffiti has inestimably influenced our entire environment- from music and fashion to advertising, architecture and graphic arts, many graffiti artists remain anonymous and unrecognized by mainstream society.

Writing graffiti is putting out public art for people who normally wouldn't go to a museum or gallery. All of my chalk drawings are like graffiti in that respect, although they are temporary. They capture a moment in time. Ironically they have spawned from an un-pleasurable moment in time, one that Time Out NY has called an "only-in-New York back story." However, I'd like to thank my machete wielding assailant and his shadow for inspiring me to create my drawings on the streets and these pieces on display. I hope that they make a difference in people's lives- they sure have made and continue to make a difference in mine.

Ellis Gallagher 2005

Ellis Gallagher is a native New Yorker. As the graffiti writer formally known as "NET," his work can be found in the five boroughs and environs, The Brooklyn Front Gallery, in Autograf: New York City's Graffiti Writers by Peter Sutherland (Powerhouse Books 2004), as well as in numerous newspapers, magazines, on television and in films. Currently a street artist known as Ellis G., Gallagher's work has appeared in Time Out NY, the NY Daily News, Trampoline House Gallery, as well as on NY 1 and The WB 11. Gallagher will publish his first book "Adhesives," the ultimate compendium of graffiti, graphic design and street art stickers in fall 2006 with Miss Rosen Editions for Powerhouse Books.

Contact Info:bklynresidents@yahoo.com

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ah, family.

Some relatives were in town this weekend, a few of which I don't see very regularly. And every time I do, I'm reminded of why. There is this real passive-aggressive streak in my family - my siblings and I are very conscious of it and hopefully that awareness stops us from the repeating the older generation's patterns.

1. Small children are among the visitors, and so we choose a holiday-themed play at a children's theater. I buy the tickets, after everyone agrees to go. Passive-Aggressive #1 tells me it sound wonderful, then later bitches to P-A #2 about how long it's going to take to get there. They take a bus because they say a cab would be $20, even though each children's theater ticket is probably $50 cheaper than if we'd gone with their choice - a Broadway musical.

2. We are arriving from three different starting points, so plan to meet 30 minutes before show time at the theater. At 5 minutes before showtime, P-A #1 & #2 are still not there. We take our seats and hold two extra, but they don't arrive until about halfway through the performance.

3. We all agree to eat in nearby Chinatown after, although I warn that because it's a relatively nice Saturday afternoon, the area will be very crowded. After maneuvering the jam-packed sidewalks, (with one toddler in stroller, the other walking, plus an elderly relative moving slowly) we stumble upon a restaurant and all agree to go in without trying to find the perfect place. We have to wait for a table for a few minutes, and P-A #1 complains that it's noisy and crowded, so I suggest we leave and keep looking. No, no, she insists, let's just stay here.

4. P-A #2's favorite dish is not on the menu. She asks the waiter for it, and he says, no, they don't carry that particular item. She makes a face. After she's ordered and the next person's order is giving his order, she says loudly that she can't believe that they don't offer it. It's just so delicious at her neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

5. P-A #1's meal arrives, and it's made with a slightly different assortment of vegetables than she gets at that same neighborhood place. Someone asks her if she'd rather order something else. No, no, she says. She eats it, but not without regular comments on how much better her regular place is.

6. She offers a few cashew nuts from her entree to the child sitting next to her, who winds up not liking them and leaving them on her plate. P-A #1 asks her if she's going to eat them, and when the child shakes her head, says that she's taking them back, then.

7. We agree to head to the hotel where the visitors are staying for dessert. P-A #1 wants to try to find a bus, while #2 wants to find a taxi. I point out that with 4 adults, a taxi isn't really that much expensive more than the bus, where each pays an individual fare. Plus, nobody has enough change for the coin slot on the bus (why don't NYC buses take dollar bills? but that's another ramble), and we have a bulky stroller that would fit better in the trunk of a taxi. Everyone's tired, and we'd have to walk further to the correct bus route, whereas taxis are (almost) everywhere, including where we are standing. We agree to get a taxi, but naturally every one that passes us for the next five minutes is either off duty or has passengers. P-A #1 says she'll take a bus and meet us there, but when nobody begs her to stay with us, she does nothing but stand and look annoyed.

8. Eventually, a cab pulls up. I'm not going back to the hotel with them, so I say my goodbyes while the stroller & kids are being loaded into the taxi. P-A #2 remembers I paid for the tickets, but I tell her not to worry about it, it's my treat. She keeps trying to give me cash, but I tell her to use it for the cab. It's my own moment of passive-agression, but of course, she won't let me wallow in it, because it's her day to be the martyr, and she shoves $15 in my hand as she jumps in the back seat. On the way home I use it to buy colored markers and Newman-O's and breath mints and a magazine I don't need, because something twisted in me wants to be as frivolous as possible with it.

The best part: at the restaurant, P-A #1 told the waiter, "I'd like a Happy Family." We of course made it into a joke, grinning at her, all "Is this happy enough?" But on some level, she probably meant it literally. The saddest part: she doesn't realize how her own behavior makes it difficult to spend time with her. You can't guilt-trip people into wanting to be with you, when it's your guilt-trips that make people not enjoy being with you.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

When not to share.

If you work in an office, or a school, or any other group environment where things like candy dishes appear on reception desks or other common areas... think twice about filling the dish with unwrapped candy. M&Ms and jelly beans are delicious, but now imagine how many fingers are going to shuffle through them in one day.

Not that I'm overly squeamish - I'm pretty relaxed about most things. Five second rule? You betcha. But I once worked in an office with an old crazy lawyer who used to sit in his office on conference calls, door open, and do personal "hygiene" things like clean out his ears with bent paper clips, clip his toenails on top of the desk (no really), and boldly pick his nose. There was no sink or running water between him and the the candy dish, mind you, so every time he passed through the reception area and grabbed a handful, we all got sick to our stomachs.

The executives were the ones requesting the candy, and they loved M&Ms, but they never noticed that their administrative assistants refused to touch it.


Yesterday as I left work I went into a conference room to look out the window to see if it was raining. It's fully dark now by 5, so at 5:30 I was just hoping to see raindrops on the window or headlights reflecting on a rain-soaked Westside Highway. Instead I saw a steady stream of police cars with heading south, all with lights flashing.

It freaked me out a bit, I admit. Maybe it was the backdrop of the WTC site, but I just felt the need to get outside and away. On my walk to the subway I saw more police cars, began to conjecture a bit, then realized with a "duh!" that I was approaching a police precinct. That doesn't explain the 10 cars with flashing lights, though.

I passed a hotel and there was a police car out front and three cops by the door. This morning I wake up and hear that there were bombings in several Jordan hotels and that the NYPD is putting on extra security at city hotels, and now I understand. The news also mentioned that the NYPD's bomb special unit is located down here.

This morning there were 5 cops in front of the nearby hotel, and later this afternoon I have a meeting there.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The side on which my bread is buttered.

Sometimes I just love my job. I received an email today from a senior executive who questioned the grammar in something I'd written. He wondered if I'd made a "type."

Now, of course I hadn't, and I managed to be polite in showing him why what I had written was correct. And I didn't point out that he'd made a typo in the word "typo."

Monday, November 07, 2005

4 8 15 16 23 42

Tonight I was at an event and near the end they collected business cards for a drawing, and I dropped mine in and told my friend, "I am going to win" and a few minutes later they announced the winner and it was me. I won a $100 gift certificate to a restaurant in Chelsea!

Pet peeve of the week.

There should be a standard for the way ATM machines work. Most of the ones I use these days don't take your card - you just dip it or slide it and it never leaves your hand. I usually slip it back into my wallet while I'm waiting for the screens to change, so once my money has appeared and I hit "no" for receipt and "no" for another transaction, I'm ready to roll. I don't have to think about where my card is, because I already have it.

Yesterday I was at an ATM that used the old-fashioned method of swallowing your card during the process, and sure enough, I walked away without it. Luckily I stayed in the vestibule for a few extra minutes to fit my wallet back into my bag, because the guy at the machine behind me found and returned my card. Thankfully. Not that I worry that anyone could use it - you'd have to re-enter a pin number to get anywhere - but it would be a royal pain to have to have it replaced.

I don't know how people lived before cash machines. When I was in college, one of the grocery stores in our little town had one of the first - but it wasn't automatic. You went up to a little window in the front corner office, and rang a bell until someone appeared. Then you handed your card over and they gave you a little box to type your pin number in, and if it went through, they distributed your cash. We thought it was so amazingly high tech.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I'm glad I'm not 20.

This week I went on an overnight business trip with a 20-something colleague and felt really old. But also, realized that there are good things about not being in my 20's any more. For one, dating has gotten really complicated.

Back when I was in the hot & heavy dating phase, if a guy didn't call you, he didn't call you. And you suffered (or not) and got over it. Now you have to worry about whether or not he'll email, or text message, or comment on your My Space site... and each level of communication has its own hidden meaning. If he text messages you, he's not interested enough to want an actual conversation. If he calls your home phone instead of your cell, he must not really want to reach you.

Dating was hard enough in the 80's. Remember when you'd run into your apartment as the phone was ringing its last ring, and have to wait for the light on your answering machine to flash? And then sometimes only get a hang-up and have to agonize whether it was him or just a telemarketer. Now, with caller id, there's no mystery.

It worked both ways, too - if you called him and then chickened out after a few rings, you could just hang up and call another time. You never left a caller id trail, looking like a stalker.

And text messaging? I don't know how to. No, really. Who would I message? None of my friends or family do it. I communicate enough via email, phone, even written letters (I know! I'm ancient!) My traveling partner repeatedly got and sent msgs to her boyfriend, roommate, and other friends throughout our time together. Guess it's more efficient than saving up your thoughts and spewing them out at one time on a phone call, but seriously? Not sure I want some people to be able to reach out to me every time something crosses their mind that they think I want to hear. Time is a great filter.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Burning Bridges

I've avoided writing about my new job too much, because I am a firm believer in the practice of not talking about work on your blog. Not worth the potential fallout. But there is a story I must share, and hopefully it will be generic enough to not set off any alarms.

There have been two occasions in my career that I've had to fire someone. The first was a telemarketer who misrepresented his qualifications & computer expertise, which might not have mattered much, but he followed that by performing very poorly in the first couple of months. There was a 6 month "probation" period and so we had the option of terminating him without a warning period, which we chose to do. The system made it easy, but the actual moment wasn't - he was angry, defensive, and belligerent. Luckily I was with an HR rep, who facilitated the conversation.

The second was an administrative assistant who had a really bad lateness/attendance record. It was constantly something - her mother was in the hospital, her child was sick, her sister had an accident - all of which might have been completely true, but they were having a really negative effect on her ability to perform her job. And she wasn't communicating consistently or clearly about them, so there wasn't even a way to try to work it out. We (my boss, who was also hers, and I) put her on formal warning twice, and then when she still didn't improve, set up a meeting with her. She called in sick that day. She didn't show up for the rest of the week. Finally HR had to send a registered letter to her house, letting her know she was at risk of being let go for "job abandonment" if she didn't make an effort to respond.

We never saw her again.

Until I got to my new job, that is. She works here. Not directly for my team, but within the overall department. She has so far avoided me, which I understand. And it's been 7 or 8 years since our shared history, so it's possible she's turned her life around and is an exemplary employee. I'm certainly not going to say anything to anybody about the past; I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

But it just proves the old saying about not burning bridges. I'm sure she never expected to have to work with me again.

Blogger spellcheck doesn't know "blog." How is that possible?
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