(not the teenage kind)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

All Pam All The Time

I go months and months without seeing or talking to Pam. I don't know why she's suddenly the star of the blog but, oh well, you gotta go with what you've got. So, after the Lucky Tiki post where I mention that Pam and I were talking to some guys at the bar, Stephanie sent me an e-mail wanting to know why, when I go out with Pam, we end up talking to guys but when I go out with her we end up hanging out with lesbians. She was referring to a couple of weeks ago when we went to Casa Vega and ended up running into an old friend and her partner and their baby and they were meeting up with a gazillion of their friends and their babies and so it was a gazillion lesbians with their babies night at Casa Vega.

Casa Vega has been around forever and it goes in and out of being popular. Right now it has become VERY trendy again. So, Pam and I go there last night. And the first person we see is Jared Padalecki who plays/played Dean or as Pamie (a different Pam) of Television Without Pity calls him CuteDean on "The Gilmore Girls." Now I stopped thinking he was CuteDean after he slept with Rory while married to Lindsey and then started being a total jerk. But, let me tell you, in person? He is CuteJared. He's really tall and his date was really short. Or maybe she wasn't really short but because he's so tall she looked short.

So it's really crowded at Casa Vega with a 45 minute wait and it's two deep at the bar. Pam and I order our drinks and are standing behind this couple - the woman was sitting at the bar and the man was standing behind her. The couple's buzzer thingy that the restaurant gives you went off and Pam turns to the man and says, "Can we take your seat, Rod?" The jaws of both me and Rod's wife drop because Pam has not given any sign heretofore that she knows this guy.

Rod: You know me?
Pam: Of course, you're Rod McCary. I love your work.
Rod: I can't believe you recognize me. What's your name?
Pam: Pam
Rod (looking at me): You have no idea who I am, right? So I don't need to know your name.
Me: Right. I have no idea who you are but I'm sure she'll fill me in.
Rod (back to Pam): Pam, I just can't believe you recognized me. You've made my night.
Pam: Well, you work a lot. Your resume must be at least three pages long. (my favorite line of the night.)

At this point, Rod has paid his bill and leaves. But not before fawning over Pam some more. The above dialogue really does not reflect how much he loved Pam. In fact, we were both surprised that he didn't buy her a drink or dinner or a car by how much he was acting like her loved her.
We had talked briefly to the guy sitting next to Rod's wife who was a totally cute African American guy who we knew was someone (Pam is much better recognizing the older minor celebrities). He had told us he was there for the night so don't even think about getting his place at the bar but, when Rod got up to leave, so did he and he said his seat was for me. "But don't get too excited," he said. "Sitting in this seat is a totally overrated experience."

After talking to more cute young guy and gal celebs, Pam and I were called to our table where we were seated next to these two gorgeous young women who, again, we knew were someone but not sure who. Rod and his wife were a few tables down and, on their way out, bowed down to Pam some more. So the women next to us asked who he was and then Pam started pulling out her picture of Brad Pitt and telling them about Al Pacino and asked them who they were but they played like they were no ones. "Well you should be someone," Pam told them. "If I were still an agent, I would sign you up."

And then the biggest sighting of the night. We were leaving through the bar area and Pam pointed out a guy who was wearing a jacket from the company I work for. I look over at the group she is pointing to and there stands my absolutely fabulous real estate business partner, Helen. She was there with her husband (the guy in the jacket) and what looked to be her former sorority sisters. I made Pam pull out the Brad Pitt picture and I swear she almost did not get it back. Do not give your pictures of Brad Pitt to former sorority girls.

And the evening does not even end here....

We go back to my house to meet Eric to go to a party. As we start hyperly describing the evening thus far to Eric, he delivers my second favorite line of the evening: "So, how much cocaine did they give you at the Mexican restaurant?" He actually repeats this line several times during the evening.

And we were off to Ron and Kathy's 21st wedding anniversary party. Many, many, many years ago Ron, Kathy, Pam, and I worked together at a magazine. That's how we all met. Ron was actually married to Mary Sue (who we called Mary Screw) and who was our boss. Yeah, she was even her husband's boss but, hey, it was a start-up, it was the 80's, we were young, what can I say? Kathy and Ron fell in love in front of all our eyes and I know it sounds terrible because he was married to Mary Screw and it was quite awkward and uncomfortable but, really, Mary Screw was a horribly mean person and Ron is the sweetest guy. It was really weird that they were married. Anyway, 21 years and Ron and Kathy are still together so it was obviously meant to be.

It was great to be celebrating their anniversary because Pam and I had been at their wedding. A few years ago they started a cocktail jazz band and had all their equipment set up in the living room. They were playing as we walked in. Kathy has such a beautiful voice. Eric, Pam, and I were sitting by the food table.

Pam (looking under the table): Oh, are you sleeping under there?
Me: Is that their cat?
Pam: No, it's a kid. What's your name?
Kid: Spencer
Pam: Spencer, what a great name. How old are you?
Spencer: Ten
Spencer comes out from under the table.
Spencer: Do you know what Interpol is?
Eric: Sure, it's a band from New York.
Spencer: No, it's not. It's an international spy organization.
Eric: No, it's a band from New York.
Me: You should listen to him, Spencer, he's very smart.
Spencer: Interpol is an international spy organization.
Me: Well, what's with Interpol anyway?
Spencer: I'm from Interpol.
Pam: What movie did you see with Interpol?
Me: Did you hear about Interpol on the internet?
Spencer: (Names some movie I never heard of and now forgot.)

As we left around midnight, Kathy was singing "Music to Watch Girls by" and Spencer shouted out "Interpol."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Fresh Undergarments Were Supplied Each Day

That is a line from this article and I just wanted to type it. For those who don't want to click, the article is about how people who fidget are skinnier than people who sit still all day. Which explains why my dog is so skinny because that's all he does is fidget. Even in the middle of the night. But that doesn't explain why I am not fit as a fiddle because I noticed yesterday when I was in a meeting that if I didn't keep fidgeting I would fall asleep. Seriously. And nodding off during a meeting? Unprofessional. So I had to make choices. Fidget and annoy my neighbors, fall asleep and hurt the speaker's feelings, drink some coffee, eat a brownie. I chose the fidget/coffee combo.

Oh, but back to this study - the way they reached this conclusion was by making these people wear "special high tech underwear...which tracks most body movements." Fresh special high tech underwear.

Friday, January 28, 2005


This is from The Washington Post yesterday:

Saying he "will continue to promote an adequate (bold italic is mine) safety net for our children," Bush promised to expand the number of community health centers where poor people can receive basic medical care.

Here is the dictionary definition of adequate:

Barely satisfactory or sufficient: The skater's technique was only adequate.

And here, according to the AP, is what Senator John Kerry says about health care:

Kerry is pushing a proposal that would provide health care to all children through an expansion of the Medicaid program. The federal government would absorb states' costs for children at or below poverty level, to encourage states to expand coverage to children in families that make less than about$47,000. It would cover children up to the age of 21.

So that's where we are....

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Brad and Jen Resolved

Oh. My. God. Pam called me from her cell phone to tell me she was working wardrobe on this pro bono commercial or something shoot for Africa. She says we are ignoring Africa with all the tsunami charity going on. She started spouting off stats on Africa. But that is not the point. The point is that this is a multi-celebrity shoot and she started listing all the stars' names and then screamed '"BRAD PITT." So Brad was wearing a blue shirt and the dress code was white t-shirts. Pam chided him and then gave him a white shirt since that's her job. Which he changed into right in front of her. And she asked if she could take pictures. And he said yes. She encouraged him to take his time with the shirt changing process. He laughed. She had three cameras and tried to get the other wardrobe people to take pictures with Brad and at first they wouldn't. She whined about this to Brad. "Those bastards," Brad said. But finally they came in and pictures of Brad, Pam, et. al. will be in my e-mail box soon.

And then she moved on to Al Pacino. She told him he's the sexiest man alive. He laughed. "You can't say 'Al' and you can't say 'Mr. Pacino.' You have to say 'Al Pacino,' " she told him. He laughed. Pam is my idol. Oh, and Dennis Hopper was another one who changed his shirt right in front of her and she said he's looking good.

But back to Brad and Jen. She did not feel it was appropriate to ask Brad wha' happened? So she asked a friend of his instead. The friend said he saw this coming for the last six months. He said that it was the whole start a family thing and Jen has "issues." So now we know. From my blog to God's ears.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


And I don't mean pictures. I just saw George Lackoff's DVD called "Win with Language" and I mean frame with words. And what I'm saying is we (by we, I mean those of us who are not conservatives) need to shift the way we talk about things. Forget about "tax reform." Taxes are an investment that provide amazing dividends like highways, the internet, public schools and colleges, and national parks. And someone against abortion is not "pro life." If they were pro life they would be all about pre-natal care and health insurance for all. The issue is control. So, forget the word "abortion." Just say "women should control their own lives." And, by the way, companies aren't "incorporating offshore" they are "deserting their country."

Here are some good books to read:
"What's the Matter with Kansas" by Thomas Frank
"Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lackoff
"A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn

And just because I can't let anything go and this blog is called "raging hormones" so you've been warned...I watched this DVD at a meeting of progressives called Kitchen Table Democracy. It was probably 50 degrees outside and the host turned on the air conditioning instead of opening the windows! And, they had these aprons that said "Kitchen Table Democracy" for the hosts but only the girl hosts were wearing them. So, see, even progressives can be anti-environmental sexists. Okay, I'm going to go re-frame the evening now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hilary versus Annette

The nominations are in. And once again Hilary Swank and Annette Bening are up against each other for best actress. Now let me start by saying that I have not seen either film for which they were nominated. But knowing nothing about something has never stopped me from having an opinion and I have a strong one on this issue. I am still bitter over Annette's loss to Hilary in 1999. Hilary won for "Boys Don't Cry" - another film I have not seen. But how hard could it have been for Hilary to play a boy when she totally looks like one? Men don't seem to agree with me on this one...but look at her, it's true.

Just one more thing before I go. Even if you find a pair of shoes you totally adore, do not feel you need to buy a pair in blue, brown, and black. Unless you have supersonic lighting, you will be late to work all the time while you try and sort out which is which. And then once you get to work you'll realize that you picked the wrong ones or, even worse, have one black and one blue or whatever. Not that it's ever happened to me. Just trying to be helpful.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I Don't Like Mondays

I am tired and that is because I was worn out by all the activity this weekend with my "J" friends (because all the names start with "J", get it?) The weekend extravaganza began at the Allied Model Train Store in Culver City. I had been sooo misinformed because I heard that they had a huge model of Los Angeles' Union Station (where all the J's give tours for the L.A. Conservancy) so we were wandering around looking for the model when finally someone told us that there is no model in the store but that the store itself is modeled after Union Station. Meaning that the outside has palm trees and arches and similar lettering and there is even a replica tower with a moorish finial on top which we decided looked like marshmallows roasting on a stick.

Okay, so then, we went to Jill's place and watched the movie "Union Station" which I had ordered from ebay. It's from 1950, staring William Holden and much is shot at the magnificient Los Angeles Union Station even though it's really supposed to take place in Chicago. So I had started watching it by myself and got tired of talking to myself and saying things like "Where is that?" and "Well, that isn't supposed to be there" and realized that I would be up for 1,000 nights trying to figure it all out and needed the help of the other "Js" pronto. And they did help me realize I am not insane and the information booth kept moving from one end of the station to another. Plus we really liked the movie. I was going to tell my favorite scene but I don't want to give it away...

Then we had dinner here. But don't be looking at that menu and think you can order anything from it because the waiter told us before we even sat down that there is no more sushi. The menu? Totally changed.

The next day....L.A. Conservancy Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Zane Grey Mansion. All the Js were there and there were requests from several people to become honorary Js. We'll see. What I learned was that Zane Grey had lots of secretaries and he liked to take them fishing and make his wife stay home and add on to the house. So it started out at like 5,000 square feet (or was it 7,500?) and ended up at 15,000. Some guy near me wanted to know what kind of bait you use to fish for a secretary (had to be there except not really.) Well, anyway, the addition with the secret bookcases where Zane Grey did his writing was stunning but the house is in disrepair, much of the acreage was sold off to pay for Zane Grey's son's drug problem, and they're going to try and turn it into a bed and breakfast.

Last stop was The Yard House with Jill and Eric. All I will say about that is if you ever go there and you're not 100 people do not order the nachos. Please.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Mislabeling of Howard Dean

There are people out there I'm sure who can write more eloquently and with more knowledge about this than me but, when I heard on NPR this morning that some say Howard Dean is too liberal to win the head of the DNC spot, I wanted to scream....He got stuck with this "liberal" label simply because he was the first to oppose the war. One particular war. That's it.

Howard Dean's views would be a big disappointment to a true liberal (whatever that means). His platform when running for Presidents was : for the death penalty in certain circumstances, opposed to gay marriage. He (horrors, horrors, horrors. No, really, horrors) drives a flipping SUV. He has a high rating from the NRA because he was the Governor of Vermont and knows people need to hunt.

Oh, and by the way, as Governor of Vermont, he guaranteed that every child had assess to health care. He was also fiscally responsible, turning an inherited deficit into a surplus. Health care. Fiscal responsibility. Important DNC people, listen to me, look at the record and think hard about Dr. Dean. And everybody just stop calling him that stupid "L" word. It means nothing.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

What Not To Wear

Jenna and Barbara look cute but Laura needs Trinny and Susannah quick...


Oh, and it cost $10,000.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Desperate Homebuilders

I'm catching up on my Los Angeles Times reading and found an article about how KB Home wants their product placed on the show "Desperate Housewives." KB Homes thinks that the houses on the fictional Wisteria Lane and their tract homes have much in common. Have they watched the show????? While KB tract homes lack character and individuality, the homes on Wisteria Lane are varied and representational of different periods and styles. Although then they say the producer had "hoped for a more 'tract-house' look for Wisteria Lane." Oh, what do I care anyway? The combination of tract homes and product placement just makes me cranky.

But all this reminds me of a conversation I had with this girl who was working at a thrift shop in Desert Hot Springs. Her hair was dyed several shades of blue and she told me that her dream was to work for Disneyland, designing the rides. Like they'd hire someone with blue hair....but, anyway, she had lots of ideas - not just for Disneyland but for Pee Wee Herman and The Simpsons as well. I'm not going to give anything away but, Paul Reubens, if you're reading this blog, get thee to the desert. The next phase of your career awaits you there.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Remco Showboat

This is it! This is the Showboat!!!!!! And the play I couldn't remember was "Wizard of Oz." It's from 1962 (I said it was a hand-me-down, right? Because, really, I was barely born then...)

No More Fun in the Sun

So my assignment yesterday was to figure out how I can turn lounging by the pool into a full time job. I sat by the pool at the Ingleside Inn and had the cabana boy (okay, the cabana elderly gentleman) bring me a bloody mary and some oatmeal. Weird combination I know. And I picked up Money magazine which coincidentally had an article about how to live your dream. The biggest barrier according to Money is money. Wow, that gem just more than paid for the cost of the subscription. Sadly no revelation came.

But...I did go shopping and bought a Danish modern lamp which the sales guy described as "very Danish modern." And I also found a Showboat. I had a showboat as a kid, only it was a hand me down and missing a lot of pieces. This is a COMPLETE set. Okay, so in case you were unfortunate enough not to have grown up with a Showboat, it is this pink plastic toy, in the shape of a (you guessed it) Showboat. And it's a stage that comes complete with sets that you change, scripts, and plastic characters. The plays are Heidi, Cinderella, Pinochhio,and I forget the other one. So I bought it. Or actually I called my sister and she bought it for me for my birthday. And she doesn't even know that I got the guy to give us a 20% discount.

By the way, I checked out of the Ingleside Inn and into a bed and breakfast with a name that I can not pronounce or spell. But the pools and views there are amazing and the bed was so comfortable. And at 4:00 they served Moroccan tea which Julie and I drank on my little patio. Then they projected the movie "Under the Tuscan Sky" onto a screen outside between two palm trees.

Well, this is the last day of vacation. Just a shiatsu massage, a trip to a cactus garden, and then the drive home. Check the blog for a casting call....I'm thinking the Showboat might be the ticket out of full-time jobedness. (The rule is you can make up words when you're on vacation.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Double Post Wednesday

Today is Wednesday, right?

Time to check back in on resolution #1 - get Donald Rumsfeld fired. They have now found Charles Graner guilty of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. But, according to his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend and partner in crime, Lynddie England, "he's a really good guy." She still loves him. Isn't that sweet? So we better not be stopping with him. Even John Kerry thinks so. And he almost got to be President.

The Fun Never Stops

I complained to the Manager here at the Ingleside Inn about how the owner shouldn’t have left that book in everyone’s room because it kept me up after midnight. Plus in the lobby yesterday they had ghiradelli chocolates but when I went back today it was boring candy. But actually I really have no complaints. It is the best here. I can sit at the pool and pick up a phone and say “Bring me a Bloody Mary.” And a Bloody Mary will arrive. Really. It’s old school service. As all service should be. And the Bloody Mary was really good and the server guy told me that there are two bartenders named Dave and one makes a good Bloody Mary and the other doesn’t but we got the good one.

Still no new lamp pour moi. But there is hope for today because Carol faxed a magazine article to my hotel room that talks about a store called the Modern Way that I’m totally going to be checking out today because they have Mies van der Rohe lamps and George Nelson stuff and, best of all, Lucite (which my computer insists on capitalizing).

Yesterday I was Julie’s guest at the Palm Springs Spa and Casino although we never got to the Casino part. First I worked out on the state of the art equipment. Then I took the Cardio Sculpt class. Then I went and did the “Taking of the Waters.” Those are these private, deep, hot mineral baths with jets. And you step into the bath and say “Calgon, take me away.” And then you go to the quiet room (or, wait, I think it was called the tranquility room) where they put cucumbers or something on your eyes and you can stay for fifteen minutes and then you have to leave.

We were having the aforementioned Bloody Marys by the pool and I was reading the latest InStyle magazine and someone wrote in asking what they should wear to their college reunion in Boston, “which is a pretty conservative city.” The answer was to stick with “casual chic attire – clothes that are stylish but understated.” And then they showed a picture of a dress I bought the other day at Trina Turk. On sale.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Desert Sun

By the way, did I mention my first birthday present of the year - this BEAUTIFUL George Nelson lamp that looks totally awesome over my formica kitchen table. And is the perfect compliment to my George Nelson cigar lamp. But the blue lamp looks really awful. Really awful.

Not to make anyone jealous but I am sitting outside at the Starbucks watching the beautiful desert sunrise (not as beautiful as the beautiful George Nelson lamp but really beautiful.) It is the perfect week to be here.

But the relaxing has not started. That is because the owner of the Inn where I'm staying wrote a book called "Bedside Stories" that he leaves in everyone's room and it tells little vignettes of his adventures as the world famous owner of the Inn and the adjoining restaurant both of which he opened in 1975. It was a hang out for Frank Sinatra, John Travolta, and Arnold S. (won't attempt to spell - I'm on vacation). Way before he bought it, it was owned by a wealthy society woman who would only let guests in by invitation (and only WASPs allowed.) Like one of those old country clubs. I'm sure this doesn't happen nowadays. So, anyway, I was up past midnight because I had to finish reading the book. The stories were very vivid and I kept thinking there had to be the ghosts of all that right in the room where I'm staying.

On the way to the hotel, I saw my favorite street sign ever. It said "Traffic Calming Ahead." It took me awhile and then I figured out it was referring to the speed bumps. Traffic calming....

The vacation started with the alligator salad (papaya and tuna salad) at Melvyns and then a shopping trip to Trina Turk where I bought the brown skirt you see in the picture. That is because it was the only thing in the store not on sale. Years ago I went to a store called Dazzle and bought a Heywood Wakefield dresser that is in my living room and holds my CDs. Julie and I are walking around and see this store called Dazzle in what once was a funky looking motel. And now is a funky looking store. But it's the same Dazzle moved from L.A.. Same great stuff. Same expensive prices.

Back to the Inn to drink the free check-in bottle of champagne by the pool while reading magazines. Julie was reading this magazine called Natural Health that accidentally got delivered to me. She started reading this article about how hot salsa raises your metabolism by a gazillion percent (the details are all a little fuzzy....) We realized that meant we needed to go to the Mexican restaurant on the main drag and eat mucho salsa. Which we did.

Well, the people at this Starbucks are getting a little too caffeinated for me so I am off to the gym...I'm having a great time but can't wait to get home because I really, really miss my new George Nelson bubble lamp.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Fun in the Sun

I tried watching the Golden Globes last night but had to turn it off during the Joan and Melissa Rivers red carpet show when Joan or Melissa or someone asked Tim Robbins (Tim Robbins!) the all important "What are you going to do with your swag?" and he said, "I don't know. Give it away?" Oh, Tim, why do you even bother?

I did hear this morning that Jason Bateman won for "Arrested Development." I have been watching the first season of that show on DVD and can I just say he deserves it. So deadpan. So perfect. If you don't watch the show, you must start now.

Though I'm going to try very hard to find a WiFi hotspot or whatever they're called place, I might not be able to post for a few days because I am going to Palm Springs! The plans are shopping, shopping, shopping to replace "the lamp." And then sun and food and a shiatsu massage. And yoga classes and gym workouts. And maybe a manicure/pedicure. There will be mint tea involved but that's another story for another time. And I am bringing one of my "Arrrested Development" DVDs. Oh, and a free bottle of champagne at check-in. This IS going to be fun.

Happy MLK Day...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Break of the Week

You have to read this post to know what I'm talking about. The 50's lamp that I bought at a desert thrift shop. Gone. Broken. How does this happen? I do not know...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Lucky Tiki

Oh my...I met my friend, Pam, tonight at a new, I thought, restaurant called the Lucky Tiki. Only it turned out it was just a bar with no food. And Pam had only eaten pistachio nuts all day. So she went to the liquor store next store and bought all these bags of chips because the bartender girl told us we were welcome to bring food.

We made new friends at the Lucky Tiki tonight. Darrell, Adam, and Wiliam Hurt. Well, it wasn't really William Hurt but Pam thought he looked like William Hurt only younger and less bald and much better looking and Adam had to point out to her that William's wife was there and she better just cool it.

Pam was a little tramautized. A friend of hers, Tom, who lives just a few blocks away from her, was stabbed yesterday. He is in construction and hires a lot of day laborers. One of his most consistent workers had been missing for awhile but showed up yesterday inTom's driveway and stabbed him in the stomach. The theory is that the worker has a drug problem and knew Tom would be carrying a lot of cash on this particular day. Anyway, Tom had surgery and will be okay. The bad guy was chased by the police and shot 18 times but still lives, actually in the hospital room right across from Tom. Pam kept saying the guy must have been on Angel's Dust or PCP and I kept saying isn't that really 80's? There must be something new by now.

And, okay, I know this is going to sound trivial after what I just told you but I thought I had found this great find of old Metlox dishes but Pam, who is the pro, broke it to me that they're probably newer than I thought because they say "original" on them and, if they were really original, why would they bother to say original?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Happy Days are Here Again

My friend Stephanie has been working temp at the Ritz Carlton. Though the grounds at her particular Ritz Carlton are gorgeous, the employees actually work in the basement. And as far as her wages, she has had much more lucrative temp jobs. But I am here to say that things are looking up. On NPR the other morning they interviewed this woman from the Ritz Carlton about their plans for W's inauguration week. Well, for one, they plan to raise their rates by 20%. This is not "price gauging." This is "charging what the market will bear."

I was totally going to go for the $150,000 four-day package when I heard it included his and hers matching bathrobes. But then I heard about the caviar and the private airplane and thought too salty, too scary. The on-air personality asked the Ritz Carlton lady if she thought all this hoopla and money spending was inappropriate given the war and the whole tsunami thing and the Ritz Carlton lady basically said that the whole ostentatious show of materialism was "as American as apple pie." And then something about the true meaning of democracy.

I am not even going to go into the story about the woman who called the concierge to find out how much it would cost to rent a fur coat because it was too much hassle to bring her own through airport security. I am not even going to tell you that the concierge told her the deposit would be $15,000 and she said fine.

Fine. You know, I can spin as well on my blog as the Ritz Carlton lady did on NPR. So, Steph, start planning a really great vacation because I know the Ritz Carlton is going to share the Inauguration windfall with their employees. Corporate sharing? It's as American as apple pie.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Doom Gloom for the Boomers

I'm reading this book called "Prophecy" by the same guy that wrote "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." (I always want to say "Rich Man, Poor Man" but that's a whole other trauma.) Which, by the way, I liked that book - the "Dad" book - but I'm going to have to read it again because there was something in there about how we need to stop giving so much of our hard earned money to taxes which is fine but I don't remember how he said things like roads and schools and national parks and stuff would get paid for. Although, now that I'm really thinking about it, he might have just meant social security taxes which if you read this book "Prophecy" makes sense. But you do not have to read this book because it is very poorly written and because, even though I haven't even finished it, I'm going to tell you everything you need to know.

Basically, baby boomers, you are screwed. Financially, that is. Unless you do something now. And that something is not investing in your401(k). You see, by around the year 2017 - just 12 short years away - the boomers will start retiring or reach the mandatory age at which they must pull from their retirement plan (mandatory, by the way, so the government can insure they will get their taxes at some point), which means pulling money out of the 401(k) or other stock invested retirement fund, which means everyone is selling and there aren't enough people in the next generation to balance things by buying. Which means, as the book's cover says, "the biggest stock market crash in history is still coming."

According to the author, we all need to build our own personal Noah's Ark to weather this storm. It is kind of scary because you don't have control of your 401(k) in regards to your investment choices and when you can pull the money out. Oh, and I forgot to mention, this book was written before George W. Bush decided that he wants social security to go with the 401(k) model which I just said is going to get us in big, big, big trouble....W, how could you not have read a book called "Prophecy?" It's right up your alley. Oh whoops, never mind, forgot the dude doesn't read. Maybe his librarian wife could read it to him. But, anyway, I digress...

I can't really tell you what to do (I told you I haven't finished the book!) but it's something about becoming very finanically well educated and making your money work for you. And take control of your own destiny...don't look to your employer or the government to see you through retirement. (Oh, oh, what if the millions of people who read this blog rush to pull out of the stock market - I might be starting the crash early...if that's the case, so sorry!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wire free

Whee.....I got wireless and now I can surf the net from bed. I think I'm going to be up a long, long time tonight. So, hey, I found this very short and completely fictional story I wrote many years ago and because I have nothing to do but sit in bed and type things for the blog, I decided to post it here.

It's called "Gas Money" and it goes like this:

So Connie's visiting from Petaluma because her father just died and she's seven months pregnant and she's telling us the story we've all heard a hundred times about when she was sixteen and ditching school and she and her friends went to the beach and ran out of gas. And they didn't have any money so they walked up and down the beach asking people for money and everyone was ignoring them. And then they say Paul and Linda McCartney just standing by their car out on the highway. And Linda said, "Why aren't you in school," and she didn't want to give them the money but Connie looked at Paul and said, "C'mon, you're Paul McCartney and you can afford to give us a few bucks for gas." So he did but Connie could tell Linda wasn't into it. Linda was really uptight, Connie says.

Connie's sister Beth is there and she's a Scorpio but, thank goodness, it's one of her good days. She's a hairdresser and she works at one of the fancy hotels in Beverly Hills where all the rock stars stay. She gets invited to all the great parties and once she was at a party and Sissy Spacek was there with her husband and daughter and Beth said to the husband, "Your daughter looks just like your wife," and he said "Like I haven't heard that a thousand times before."

Connie's other sister is still in Petaluma with her husband. She refuses to leave her house anymore. Connie says it's a disease called agoraphobia. "And you know," Connie says. "The longer you're inside, the harder it is to get out."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Merry Maid

I love my cleaning lady. She takes great care of me. And she's really good to the dog. Last Christmas she bought him a fluffier, bigger bed than I think he deserved. But I was doing an inventory in my head and realized that where she goes, destruction follows. Here is a list of things that have inexplicably broken or broken down during or after she's been to my house:
  • One day I came home and found my brand new television had fallen over onto the floor. I first thought there were glass shards all over but it turned out to be a broken video box. Now, granted, the TV was a little heavy for the cart it was on, but what made it tip over? I do not know. I went out and got a cute little flat screen TV. After the trauma of that event, I decided I didn't want anything in my house that I couldn't lift. Which is why I want this. I'll miss the refrigerator and stove but I really don't use them much anyway.
  • One day I came home and for no reason at all water was spurting from a hole in the garden hose in the backyard. I had been gone quite a while and my first clue that something was amiss was that water was poring through the backyard gate. The water level was almost up to the house. How does something like this happen? I do not know.
  • One day I came home from a vacation on a Saturday night. There was a note from the cleaning lady that said the washing machine had stopped working. When I went to the laundry room, the electricity was out and there were black marks by the electrical outlet. I called the emergency electrician because this did not look good. He told me that a wire had shorted and there could have been a fire. He also noticed that the fairly new water heater was leaking. He called his friend the plumber. I will not divulge how much any of this cost.
  • I came home last Saturday and the cleaning lady was there. I turned on the overhead light in the dining room and it dimmed. I turned it off. I came back later and turned it on again. I went into another room and that's when I heard a big pop. The light was off. There were black marks on the ceiling. The electrician can't come for a few days. In the meantime, I am sleeping with my bedroom light on because that way if there's an electrical fire the light will go off and will wake me up. Right?

I think there is even more that I can't remember. Clearly, there is some bad voodoo going on here. But she is like family and her family is like family. And she plays frisbee with the pup. No matter how much it costs me, I will never let her go.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Plastic Surgery No

So I was in a really cranky mood because the rain won't stop and they're never going to finish the construction on my garage and my dog has a weird thing on his nose and blah, blah, blah. And then I found this blog and everything changed. I love this site so much I want to be buried with it. It's all about celebrities and their bad plastic surgeries although they give kadoos (whoops, that would be kudos) to those like Sarah Jessica Parker who have made subtle changes. But keep me away from anything having to do with knives and needles and hospitals and stuff unless it's absolutely life threatening. People have died from plastic surgery you know. The aunt of a co-worker of mine died of a tummy tuck. What is this look altering stuff about anyway? Why can't we be happy the way we are and why can't we just age naturally? (By we, I'm not sure exactly who I mean but definitely not, for example, the women in Darfur who I'm guessing are not worrying about getting their faces lifted just now.)

Rain, rain, go away. Someone do an anti-rain dance quick please...

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Paying Teachers for Performance

The governator of California said in his state of the state address last week that teachers should be paid for performance. Finally, a subject I know something about. That is my job. I figure out how to attract and motivate executives while linking their pay to the performance of the company thus acting in the best interests of our shareholders. Figuring out this performance link can be pretty straightforward for a public company. There are standard financial measurements that everyone knows about. And, not only can you look at how your company did over last year, you can compare your company's performance to other companies' performances. Although, you would want to be careful in doing this as it would not make sense to compare, say, General Electric's performance with Netflix's performance being that they are not similarly sized companies and not in similar industries.

I am all for paying teachers for performance. Especially because that would mean that Mrs. Fox, who gave me a "D" in handwriting in second grade and ruined my life, would have gotten a crummy raise or maybe no raise at all. But I'm all for simple and how do you fairly and equitably measure improvement in performance when you're not talking about an even playing field? The way I see it each school and each grade in each school would need to be handicapped so, for example, if it was a school with low parent involvement, they would get extra points to start in order to catch up with the schools that have parents that won't leave the teachers alone (or, given the obnoxiousness of some parents, maybe it should work the other way around. I don't know. Just throwing out ideas here.) And then what would you do? Have some sort of standard test for each grade level?

And though test scores can be one quantifiable way of capturing improvement from one year to another, how do you uncover really bad teachers like Mrs. Fox? I would have done great on a test. I was a smart kid and I had involved parents. But Mrs. Fox was uninspiring, de-motivating. She was mean. That kind of behavior can only be captured on a customer service survey filled out by both parents and students. (By the way, after much convincing, my dad got my mom to agree to complain about Mrs. Fox to the principal. She needed convincing because in her world the authority figure was always right. In the end, the school used the old Catholic Church method of handling naughty priests and got her transferred somewhere else. I'm so glad I have this blog now so I can be mean back to Mrs. Fox. Because when you're a kid you're powerless you know.) Good teachers are creative. They know how to maintain control over their audience and always remain in charge. They see each child as an individual, play to each one's strengths, work on each one's weaknesses. They are passionate about what they do. Those are the skills that need to be rewarded. How to measure?

Actually, it really shouldn't be all about the money anyway. Studies show that there are much more powerful drivers of good performance like feeling appreciated or feeling that someone cares about your career and is giving you the support and materials you need to succeed. But, instead of making teachers feel appreciated by providing the funds so that the classroom size is manageable and the proper tools are there (did you know that teachers often spend their own money on materials? In my corporate job, I've never paid for so much as a pencil. Never. Not even Kleenex either and I've heard of schools that don't have enough toilet paper. Shameful!), the Governor wants to do the whole carrot or stick thing. Why is the Governor of California making it so tough for nurses and teachers - the people responsible for caring for the ill and for educating our next generation? He is as mean as Mrs. Fox.

Clearly, bad performing teachers should not be rewarded. But let's think this all through and let's not set our good teachers up for failure.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Perfect Storm of Yoga

Ten or fifteen years ago, if you needed to find me, all you would have to do is go to the nearest yoga studio and there I'd be. There were some amazing teachers at my neighborhood yoga studio like Cheri who, when doing "boat pose" (sit on butt, lift both arms and both legs simultaneously), would have us sing a couple of rounds of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." And there was Devin who turned us into true yoga warriors and made us sweat for an hour and then at the end would give us the best 15 minutes of relaxation ever. And there was even the yoga studio owner, who we called an "idiot savant" (okay, I know it wasn't nice but he was, well, this former football player who started the right business in the right place at the right time and did really well. But, he was like a former football player. Get it?) , and who walked around his classes saying "breathe, breathe, breathe." He was so right. Breathing? Important. The other students were amazing too and we had our own little community - going out to eat after class, taking yoga workshops, and going away for yoga weekends. It was the perfect storm of yoga.

And even when the ballerinas came, it was still okay. Sure their flexibility was obnoxious but, truly, they were harmless. It was when yoga really caught on and became crowded and trendy and lost the community feel and all these actors and actresses and Sting and Madonna and really no fun anymore and it was ruined, I tell you, ruined. For me, anyway.

But last week my friend Karen enticed me out to a yoga class, the first in a long time. The teacher was nice, the students were nice, Sting wasn't even there. It was easy, probably too easy, and definitely not anywhere near the perfect storm of yoga. But I realized that everything I learned before from all those great teachers was still wired in, even the "breathe, breathe, breathe" and I did sleep really well that night.

P.S. I know this is the most poorly written blog entry ever. What can I say? You can't be a superstar every day...

Friday, January 07, 2005

Adieu to Sue

Well, yesterday's post really wiped me out but I'm back because I have to give kudos (or, as Eric would say, kadoos) to the remarkable Sue Thompson. Her retirement party was the other night and, boy, the food was good. And the speeches from the heart. Sue was the Assistant Director of CASA Los Angeles. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) was created in 1977 to train advocates to be a voice for children in the dependency court (foster care) system. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges, are trained in courtroom procedure, social services, and the special needs of abused and neglected children. They investigate all aspects of their assigned cases and then report their findings to the court.

Sue started as a CASA herself, one of the first in L.A. County, was then hired as Volunteer Coordinator and finally made Assistant Director. Since the CASA program is made up of volunteers, Sue's influence was huge. To many, she was the first face they saw when starting the program. And it was a sunny face at that. She was an alumni of my graduate program and one of my thesis advisors. That thesis would not have been done without the help of Ms. Sue.

Sue's speech started a little bit like the academy awards. She thanked everyone including the people in the cafeteria who she said would make anything you wanted as long as you were kind. She really made it sound like the best people in the world worked at the Children's Court and then she made me really want to work there. Which actually I changed my mind when it took me an hour to get home. But, anyway, she ended her speech with two pieces of wisdom:
  • Don't ask children want they want to be. That is limiting. Ask them what they dream of and wish for and then help them attain those dreams.
  • Be kind to kind people and even kinder to unkind people (Sue's kind of into kind.)

That be it. She will be missed but she will continue to do great things in retirement. I just know it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Good Grief

Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, I played on my company's softball team. The team was comprised of a group of us who worked in the same building, on the same floor. On the last day of the season, our left-handed shortstop, Joe, did not make it to the game. He had been taken to the hospital with severe stomach pains. Unable to locate the cause of the pain, the doctors cut him open and found a huge tumor attached to most of his major organs. He was 34 years old.

Joe and I had a mutual love for backgammon and would play for money during lunch and after work. He was a huge risk-taker and he also liked to make the games fun. He would make outrageously stupid moves which would sometimes pay off for him. Or oftentimes not. While we played, we talked about many things, mainly politics - he was a liberatarian - but also about our lives. His marriage had its ups and downs. They had agreed on no children at the beginning and now his wife had changed her mind.

Joe did not die right away and when he did it was anti-climactic. There were surgeries, chemotherapy, remission, more surgeries, more chemotherapy. It went on for years. The company was growing and, though Joe retained his salary and title, he was placed in a lesser job. Our softball team had disbursed with people either moving up or out. Though Joe and I worked buildings apart, I would periodically go to the cafeteria and get us sandwiches for lunch and we would sit in his office and play backgammon. "I'm not scared of death," he said. "But I am worried about the pain." There had been some crazy pain while he was in the hospital and the morphine had made him wacky to the point where one night he removed his IVs and tried to escape. Joe was not a spiritual person and felt that people turned to religion for a comforting view of death that he did not need. However, when people offered their prayers, he did not turn them down. Just in case.

I bring this all up now because there has been another young death at the office. Her name was Adrienne. She was 36 years old, a single mother of a five year old boy. She was estranged from her family and estranged from the father of her child. She came to work for us from another department and almost immediately became ill. Her illness was undiagnosed for awhile and at one point the doctors told her it was all in her head and recommended a psychiatrist. They eventually found water on her brain and installed a shunt which gave her great headaches. She tried to return to work twice. The first time she felt so ill she had to be driven across the street to the hospital. The second time she had a seizure in the entryway. Last Sunday, she had a seizure in the middle of the night. By the time her roommate found her in the morning, it was too late.

She worked with us for a very short period of time. She did not socialize with anyone after work. And, yet, people who had recently lost a parent or an in-law and soldiered on, were crying at work, unable to function. A grief counselor was called in for a two hour group session. A young woman on the same floor but in a different department, a woman about the age I was when Joe became ill, spoke the most during the grief counseling session. She was upset that no one else in her department seemed to care, that they were acting like everything was normal when everything was clearly, clearly not.

Grief counseling was not in our culture when Joe died. And I think those of us that went through his illness and death would have thought it weird. We got through it. I clearly remember calling Joe at the hospital with a co-worker and then shutting my office door to hug and cry. But life goes on. I do not grieve for Adrienne. I truly did not know her. I feel sad for her little boy and a little angry too because, though she had strong feelings about who should care for him, she never put them in writing. Mainly, though, I realize that even after all these years I just really, really miss playing backgammon with Joe.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Not One Damn Dime Day - January 20th

There's an e-mail going around and being posted on many of the liberal-minded blogs. They are asking us not to spend a dime on anything on inauguration day as a protest to the war. I am not sure how this will work except that everyone will have to be very organized so that they buy food on the 19th for the 20th or else they will starve and if they are low on gas they should fill up on the 19th or they will be stranded. And how far are we supposed to go? If I turn on my heat, I've spent a dime, right? Or, I mean, a damn dime. Or, I mean, a bazillion damn dimes. And even if this strategy works on the big corporate behemoths, what about the small businesses? Maybe it could be "Not One Damn Dime Except if You're Not a Big Corporation Day."

It seems like there should be a better way. Oh, I've got it! Let's vote out all those political leaders that, in the words of the e-mail, "don't have the moral courage to oppose (the war.)" Oh, whoops, we tried that and it didn't work. It looks like the people spoke, knew what they were getting into and wanted it anyway. Oh and , yes, I'm still bitter. Forget "Not One Damn Dime Day," why don't we just have "Move To Canada and Spend All Our Money There Day" instead? Yeesh..here is the e-mail that started this tirade:

Not One Damn Dime Day - Jan 20, 2005

Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours. On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target... Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter). For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down.

The object is simple.

Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it. "Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and an estimated 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan-- a way to come home. There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.

Please share this with as many people as possible.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Public Service Announcement

Listen up, peoples, sorry to get so serious on you but we all need to know the warning signs of a heart attack. And, women, this is not something that just happens to men. Twice as many women die from heart disease than from all forms of cancer, including breast cancer. So, here's how you know:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and returns
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Light-headedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath with chest discomfort

What do you do if you or someone you know has these symptoms? Act immediately - don't take no for an answer and call 911. Even if you're thinking it could be spicy food or a pulled muscle. Call. And for more info, go to www.americanheart.org.

P.S. Check this out - cardiac hospitals with fast food restaurants in their food courts....

Monday, January 03, 2005

Double Post Monday

Julie sent this yahoo article called "Girl Saved Tourists Thanks to School Lesson." It is about a ten year old British girl who was on vacation in Thailand and had just learned about tsumanis in school so knew the tidal wave was coming and warned everyone and saved a whole island. Kids, stay in school....you will learn important things.

And I want to go back to school to learn about sewage systems because they just spent years and years and millions and millions in my neighborhood to upgrade this one big street. They ripped the whole street up, blocks and blocks and blocks, to put in these huge pipes that I would have thought would help with flooding and drainage. And today it was more flooded than before the project. City of Los Angeles, give me my money back, or build me an ark. Something...

You Gotta Have Faith

So back in the summer I joined this gym and have been working out twice a week with a personal trainer. I have done nothing but gain weight in this time but everyone says muscle weighs more than fat blah, blah, blah. My trainer, or wait, I'm going to call her Trainer Girl wanted me to go see Billy Graham with her when he was in town. She went every day. She tells me she tried all the religions of the world until she settled on Christianity. Her faith is an interesting thing. (Wow, that's weird - I accidentally typed "introducing thing" - kinda fits). But, anyway, compare her interpretation of events to mine:

Trainer Girl is a writer and she had an idea for a TV series (something to do with an airplane and vignettes and faith) so she was driving around and she stopped at this bookstore and, even though she goes to this bookstore quite a bit, it meant something that she stopped there that particular day. She went right to the cheap book section and saw this thin little book with the same title as her TV series and the book was the perfect execution of her idea.
Trainer Girl's interpretation: God's way of telling her she was on the right track
My interpretation: Someone already had the idea so forget about it

Trainer Girl sent her script to the CEO of some Christian station. She got a letter back from the lawyer saying they couldn't read it until she signed a release form.
Trainer Girl's interpretation: The CEO read her script, loved it, but needed her to sign the form before he could officially confess his love.
My interpretation: The Christian station might have God or Jesus or whoever on their side but they must protect their butts anyway. The script is in the dumpster. Sign the form. Whatever.

So, what is the point? I have no idea. On the one hand, I like to think that her optimism will prevail but, on the other, we have this President who rules by faith, clearly not going to work. Read Jared Diamond again (why am I obsessed with Jared Diamond lately?) -- we are at a huge crossroads right now and it is going to take a lot more than faith to get us out of this mess.

Gotta go get the dog's staples removed - hooray!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

I Got Your Number

Happy New Year!

2005 adds up to seven and, not that I'm a numerologist or anything, but I looked in a big book and there are some interesting things going on with the seven. Seven is the number of analysis and understanding. It is a time for study and meditation and an avoidance of material matters. This does not bode well for electronic makers, toy makers, etc. All you need to do is read this article by Jared Diamond. He has studied societies that have collapsed and has interesting things to say about where he thinks we are headed. Oh, and the really cool thing is that at this bonding event at work we had to say who, living or dead, we would most want to have lunch with. And I was torn between my Grandpa Max and Jared Diamond. But then Jared Diamond published this article in the New York Times and now I don't need to have lunch with him. Whew, dodged that bullet!

The United States is a five which makes sense because five is constructive freedom and, you know, we're all about freedom. This year the United States will be a nine. Nine is the year of selflessness and humanitarianism. This bodes well for world peace.

I used to work with a woman who said good things only happened in even numbered years, you just had to hold your breath during the odd ones. But I think 2005 looks to be a great year. Not that I'm a numerologist or anything...

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