(not the teenage kind)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Guilty Pleasures

I have many guilty pleasures. I think I have been upfront about that. Celebrity Poker, The Gilmore Girls, the Shopaholic book series. I try not to think of myself as shallow but more like a pop culture maven. And sometimes I just like things because they are fun.

Which leads me to Men at Work (not to be confused with Men @ Work). I admit that when I met don dokken there was some very cheesy music in my CD collection. He helped me weed through them and we went to Moby Disc (RIP) where I got a HUGE credit for some of my more unfortunate choices. But it was hard to give up the Men At Work, a source of much teasing by don dokken even ten years later. I miss my Men at Work. Is there a more peppier song than "Land Down Under?" Is there a more sincere song than "It's a Mistake?" I didn't think so. I should never have let that CD go.

And I thought I had a chance to rectify this huge misstep via iTunes. I tried to download the two aforementioned songs but I could not find them. Is it just me? No Jackson 5, no Men at Work, no Beatles. And while I am on this rant...there is a Boomtown Rats' song called "Keep it Up" that was on their first album that I really need. But their first album is not on iTunes, I just find greatest hits. See this is a big problem. Oftentimes the best songs are not the hit songs. Something needs to be done. Help me, iTunes, you're my only hope.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

iTunes Driving Me Crazy

Someone gave me a $50 iTunes gift card. But I can't get any Beatles songs including John Lennon. And no Men At Work either. And sometimes the songs I download are a stupid concert version and not the original recorded version. It's a travesty. Someone (don dokken?) please explain.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's Chrismukkah Eve!

Hey, did you know that this is the first time that Chanukah and Christmas have fallen on the same day since the year I was born? That was a long, long time ago.... I learned that this morning on NPR. They also interviewed a man from New Orleans who moved to Memphis before Hurricane Katrina and who came back with his wife but then it turned out that she had met a man in Memphis when they were living at the Red Roof Inn and she decided to go back there. I think they had been married 30 years. Sad! He ended the interview by saying that his father always told him to concentrate on what he does have, not what he does not have. Me? Crying.

But does this make any sense? Because don dokken and I have started our Christmakkah celebrations and I have had one glass of Robert Craig wine and one glass of plum wine. The plum wine was at the sushi restaurant where I wish I had brought my camera because the sushi chefs were wearing Santa hats. And then some customers walked in with Santa hats and there was much merriment as the sushi chefs and the customers celebrated that they were all in Santa hats on Christmukkah Eve.

Time for bed. Big day tomorrow with more Christmukkah celebrations and poker and stuff (did I mention that two weeks ago I won over $300 playing on-line poker? Sadly, not real money.)

Friday, December 23, 2005


On my way to pick up lunch the other day I stopped at the ATM. The man ahead of me was having trouble working the machine. He kept pushing buttons and the machine appeared to be stuck. "I just want my card back," he said. I told him to press the red "cancel" button. He pressed the button and everything started working again. "I would give you reward," he said. "But I don't have any money." He then withdrew $100 from his account. As he left he said, "Thank you so much. You are a true good samaritan." The standards for good samaritan-ship sure have lowered. Didn't you used to have to rescue someone from a burning building or a knife attack or something? I just wanted him to hurry up so I could get my lunch.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Me and The Docs

I hate blood tests. I hate needles. I can not even watch news shows with stories about little kids being vaccinated. If someone in a movie or television show is getting a shot, I cover my eyes. I remember when I was a kid and I went to the doctor and I was sobbing and sobbing in the doctor's office. The doctor asked why I was crying and I said "Because I don't want a blood test." The doctor pointed out that I wasn't having a blood test which led me to believe that I was never going to have a blood test which led me to stop crying. Except that after leaving the doctor's office we headed for the lab for a blood test. While some may say he was trying to teach me a lesson about not getting all worked up about things until they are a reality, I say he was a big fat liar. I started trying to run away or hide under the bed whenever it was time for my yearly physical.

I make them let me lie down when I have a blood test. The last blood test I had I turned white and they wouldn't let me go until I drank some juice, had a banana, and proved to them that I would not faint. The idea of having a needle in my arm just makes me ill. The good news is that there is no possible way I could ever become a heroin addict.

The bad news is that the fear transcends from needles to anything that cuts. So I am also fearful of knives. People have told me that I could learn how to cook if I just had the proper knives. But I am scared to go near knives. I asked my mother what she did to me to make me so scared of all things that cut. She laughed and said she cut herself while cooking all the time. Wacky!

The funny thing is that my two favorite shows on television right now are doctor shows. After studiously avoiding E.R. and Chicago Hope, I am now hooked on Gray's Anatomy and House. House is based on a column from the New York Times where a doctor is challenged to diagnosis a patient's symptoms. Since each episode has to stretch for one hour there is much misdiagnosing going on and lots of procedures that I can not watch. But I love the character of Dr. House who is cynical, addicted to vicodin, and lovable in his own surly way. And then Gray's Anatomy is a soap opera-y kind of show about a group of surgeons doing their residencies in a hospital in Washington. The dialogue is sharp and the cast is very attractive. It is hard to find a woman who does not have a crush on Patrick Dempsey although Stephanie actually works where they film Gray's Anatomy and says that up close he is taller and thinner and scragglier (in a bad way) than he is on television.

I spend half of these shows with my eyes closed but House does not end until 10:00 and Gray's Anatomy does not end until 11:00 so the parts where I keep my eyes open are something of a miracle.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Little PR Attempt Update

They have assigned a feature writer from the Sherman Oaks Sun to do an article on Inner Circle based on my submission. At first I was bummed. But then my wise father (aka "the sage") reframed the whole thing for me and told me that I am an amazing PR person and that people pay lots of money to PR firms to accomplish what I accomplished in a very short period of time.

His words were something like: "I have news for you. You don't work for that paper. They have people who work for that paper who need to be the ones to write the article. You are a little koo koo."

I feel so much better now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My Little PR Attempt

Here is the little blurb I sent to my local throwaway paper. They wrote back almost immediately and asked for the website of the organization. And they said that my little piece was well written but more suited for a newsletter than for a free, throwaway newspaper. Personally I think they should just publish my little newsletter piece instead of doing their own research but what do I know?

Recall what the weather was on October 16, 2005? I do, because it was the day that Inner Circle Foster Care and Adoption Services had their second annual golf tournament at the La Canada-Flintridge Country Club. I am the Board President of this non-profit, located in Van Nuys, whose mission is to “promote the growth of children and youth while strengthening the family unit.” Inner Circle is a small but mighty agency that currently serves 65 children in foster care. In the past, we have been heavily reliant on county and state funds. The 2004 golf tournament, was our first major fundraiser, and was a remarkable success. We would probably be out of business without it, so our hopes for this second year of the tournament were high. On the day of October 16, 2005, there was the worse thunder and lightening storm I have ever seen in all my life in Los Angeles.

A little bit about the needs of children in our country and in Los Angeles County:
• Each week, nationwide, 27 children die at the hands of their parents.
• Nationwide, every 10 seconds, another allegation of child abuse is made.
• In Los Angeles County alone, there are 28,000 children under the watchful eye of the Department of Children and Family Services.
• Over 24,000 children are living not with their parents but in "out-of home care." About have of those kids are living with relatives, and the other half are in group homes or foster care. (LA Times, June 3, 2005)
• Los Angeles County accounts for 1/3 of the entire state of California’s foster child population.

On the morning of the golf tournament, I called Inner Circle’s amazing Executive Director, Diane, who was, as usual, upbeat and positive. It had not started pouring yet, and the tournament was proceeding as planned. Later on, I learned from Diane that out of the 120 golfers who had signed up only two had failed to show. They teed off at the normal hour but by 1:00 there were lightening bolts coming towards them and the tournament was shut down. Diane and her staff quickly moved the dinner and silent auction up by several hours; the wet golfers came inside for food, drink, and some serious bidding.

I am happy to report that, despite the horrible weather, we met our fundraising goals for the event. We feel that the bad weather worked in our favor. The golfers were energized by the lightning bolts and maybe felt a bit sorry for us, which enhanced the auction bidding. And, because there was no end to the tournament, there was no winner allowing us to save money for next year’s trophies.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Keep Checking

I have gotten several complaints in the last few days about the irregularity of my posting. Since customer service is high on my list of priorities, I am determined to resolve these complaints. You will see that I have posted on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Monday and now twice today (Tuesday). I promise daily (or at least every other day) postings from here on out. And pictures of my dog do too count. So keep checking...

Monday Update

Just need to catch you all up on a few things:

The Bathroom
(a.k.a. the cleaning lady and her breakable ways.) Aside from a couple of weeks ago when I heard this big crash from the bedroom and later found the corner of the glass on a photograph of the pup cracked, there have been no incidences. Or so I thought. On Friday, I could not flush the toilet. I called the plumber and decided that it was now time to deal with something I had been avoiding and could barely talk about. There was something wrong with the bathtub plumbing in my beautiful "one week" bathroom: when I ran the water in the bathtub the fixture was turning 360 degrees instead of 180 and I could not turn the water off unless I switched to shower mode.

don dokken thought I should call the one week bath people to make things good but that felt overwhelming and somehow wrong. So when the plumber was here on Friday snaking the toilet, I asked him to check the bathtub as well. He was done with that in fifty seconds. Or maybe less. The problem was that someone had loosened the handle, it just needed to be tightened. I have no proof it was the cleaning lady but I will just state right here that it was not me.

The Fountain
I hate the fountain. And it's really not the fountain's fault. It is me. I should have realized that I am not fountain material. In defense of me, though, the winter is not a good time for fountains. They get filled with leaves and dirty rain water and stuff. The fountain is going to hibernate for the winter. I have bailed out the water and just need to give it a good scrubbing. I hate the fountain.

Impending Niece and Nephew
Yes, I am going to be an Aunt of twins. And don dokken has named them Buffy and Jody. And I am going to be Aunt Cissy. kruthless has been cranky and yesterday we went to a wedding shower. When I picked my mother up I told her "Do not talk to kruthless. Just pretend you've never met her before." Although kruthless was the cranky one I was not trying to protect our mother from her. It was the other way around. For example, when kruthless ordered a diet coke she did not have to hear anybody say "she should be drinking milk." I will go no further.

I Got Subpoena
Remember this incident? Since then I have gotten two calls from the Deputy DA (or someone official sounding person) who has told me that they should not have issued a subpoena and I did not need to be in court the next day. Except that I never got either subpoena.

Me: Well, I really don't know what happened. I just found this key in my driveway.
DDA: Exactly. What could you tell them?
Me: No, I mean, what happened?

She went on to tell me that the bad guy broke into a house in my neighborhood and took the car key that I found.

Me: Wow, that means the bad guy was in my driveway.
DDA: Yes.
Me: That's scary.
DDA (regretting that she even bothered to call): Well thank you so much for your willingness to testify but as I said I don't think we'll really be needing you. Just let me know a good number to reach you at in case something comes up.

So I thought the whole thing was done. And then a few weeks later I actually did get a subpoena in the mail. It says "Subpoena For Appearance Of Witness" in the case of "the People of the State of California v. Shaw, Gregory Dean." On January 20, 2006, there will be a jury trial and they have checked that I will be on call. But then there is a box that says "special instructions to witness" where it is written "you must contact the DA's office to avoid personal service." Huh? I do not understand the courts and their mysterious ways.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cashflow 101

Remember way back here when I met Cricket at the bar? Well, Cricket and I have kept in touch and in fact I have twice played the game Cashflow 101 with Cricket and the gals. Cashflow 101 is a boardgame invented by Rich Dad, Poor Dad writer Robert Kiyosaki to teach people how to get out of the rat race and into the fast track. The goal is for your passive income to exceed your expenses.

You start by pulling a card that tells you what your profession is and outlines your income, expenses, and any investments. For our first game I pulled the doctor. You all, you do not want to be a doctor. Because you will never get out of the rat race. The doctor comes with all sorts of expenses including a high mortgage and, if you have children, private school. Thank goodness I only landed on the "have a child" square once because otherwise I would never have gotten out of the rat race. Wait, actually, I never did get out of the rat race. I finished the game dead last. Sad.

It is interesting to note that every time someone landed on the "have a child" square, instead of being all excited to have a kid and congratulating each other, we groaned at the additional expense. So Robert Kiyosaki has created a game where having kids is a punishment. Ironic given that part of his empire includes a similar boardgame just for kids because it is an important part of his mission to make children fiscally educated and responsible. It did make me curious enough to research the personal life of Robert Kiyosaki and found out he does not have any children. That must be why he is so rich!

Because I am such a financial genius myself and despite the fact that I NEVER got out of the rat race even though I was a doctor who earned a ton of money, Cricket and the gals decided that for the second game I was ready to be promoted to Cashflow 202 which introduced things like puts and calls and pyramid schemes (my term, the game calls it something else like "multi-layered marketing.") I once again pulled the doctor card. What is up with that? One of the gals agreed to change cards with me and I became a mechanic. I had a low income and no investments. And guess what? I got out of the rat race really quickly. And guess what else? The woman who traded with me and was now the doctor? Never got out of the rat race.

I am a Robert Kiyosaki fan. I find his books to be extremely poorly written and probably full of exaggerations and lies but also inspiring. I appreciate reading anything that makes me think in a different way than I have been taught to think (drawing the line at politics, of course). But there is a pattern to the thoughts he expresses in his writing and how it is played out in the game. And the most obvious is that he has a bias against education. He claims that he himself was a very poor student. He talks about people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who never finished college. And then there is that having children is a big financial punishment thing. So true. So cold.

If you find someone who has the game, play it. It's fun and it makes you think. And for any of you doctors out there who are now worried read The Millionaire Next Door. They interview doctors who have it all sussed out. And stop procreating, okay?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Holiday Greeting From Rudy

Welcome to the bathroom. See how pretty it still looks? Happy Chrismukkah.

(If you click on the picture to enlarge, you will see that he is wearing his Chrismukkah bells.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Postman Always Rings Wrong (as does the L.A. Times Delivery Guy)

I had a message on my answering machine the other evening from a neighbor around the corner. It seems that they have been getting my mail on a fairly regular basis. Some of the mail they have been bringing by my house, some of the mail they decided was junk and have been throwing away. They were calling because they had received quite a few items for me that day that they had determined I would want and asked me to come pick them up. As I was listening to the message, I was going through my own mail and found that I had received my neighbor's credit card bill.

When I went to pick up my mail from my around the corner neighbor we discussed how badly the mail delivery service had deteriorated, how we both were constantly getting mail for other people, and how it's just not like it was in the old days when our mothers actually knew the postman because they were home during the day and would even give them a nice holiday gift.

Now, I have had some interaction with my postman, Pete. But I previously could not have picked him out in a line up. That has all changed because Pete has delivered to me a holiday card which clearly spells out his name and address so that I can easily find him to give him his holiday gift. Here is what it says:

Dear Postal Customer,

I just wanted to take this moment to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season! I have had the pleasure of following those "big" shoes of Jeffrey's since January, and I've enjoyed being a part of your life in a small way. (By the way, Jeffrey's fine and delivering a new route in Encino...)

I've enclosed an article from a Postal Magazine that sums up my life away from the Post Office, and for those of you I haven't had the pleasure of getting to know, maybe this will break the ice!

Best Wishes,

A little note on former postman Jeffrey: he was quite large which is why Pete used the quotes on the big. The article from postal magazine shows a picture of him singing the national anthem at the RFK Stadium in Washington. Pete says "I sing a very traditional version of the anthem and always get a very positive response from the fans." Do you think maybe Pete's hobby is interfering with his job performance and this is why the mail keeps getting mixed up?

And then there is the L.A. Times delivery guy who made his annual blatant attempt for a holiday gift by including a happy holiday card with my newspaper in which he wrote his name and address. His timing was as bad as Pete's as he failed to deliver my paper four out of seven days last week. Also, for all you newspaper delivery people out there...you are more likely to get a holiday gift if you would just throw the paper onto the driveway instead of onto the wet, wet grass every single day, okay?

(Did you notice in this post that I use the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas?" Just me taking sides in the War on Christmas.)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Scrooge McMulholland and Christmas Hams

Those of you living north of Los Angeles would really appreciate the musical play I saw last night which was called "A Mulholland Christmas Carol." It is "A Christmas Carol" retold with William Mulholland, the man who stole water from the Owens Valley and brought it to Los Angeles, cast in the role of Scrooge. Poor William Mulholland! He started out so idealistic. He really didn't mean for that dam to break and kill all those people. The play is well done, hillarious. My favorite song was the highly spirited "Land Grab." My favorite line: "Los Angeles is a thirsty bitch goddess." And the Tiny Tim character was the arms and legs of a little puppet and the head of a real live tall man that was passed to the shoulders of various characters (well, the little puppet was. And then the real live tall man would follow along.) And his name was....drumroll...Poquito Pablito. And the Ghost of Christmas Present was Teddy Roosevelt. So you see how it was. Or maybe you had to be there. (And I am happy to report that while I am writing this my dog is being bathed by the mobile groomer and the excess water is just streaming down my driveway. Yeah, we got plenty of water here in Los Angeles where it never, ever rains. Thank you so, so much Mr. William Mulholland.)

I love Christmas lights so it was fun to be in the heart of Hollywood and see Hollywood Boulevard all sparkly and decorated. And my very favorite is the Christmas tree atop of the building where I used to work, Capitol Records. Seeing that made me think about one of my main responsbilities when I worked there -- the ordering of The Christmas Hams.

If I had a scanner, I could post a picture of me and my friends Laurie and Eric who lived in an apartment just blocks away from Capitol Records. We are standing on their balcony, holding The Christmas Ham with the Capitol Record's Christmas tree in the background.

You are probably wondering how the ordering of Christmas hams could be such a big deal. But it was. Capitol Records had 1,000 employees in multiple locations and the Christmas hams were trucked around from the east. I had to get a completely accurate count of how many hams go to which locations which involved calling each department (these were the days before email, people! I had to call on the telephone every single bloody department. And people couldn't call back and just leave a message telling me how many hams they needed because those were the days before voice mail too. I am old.) And then I had to make sure each truck went to the right place and, most important, that the Christmas hams got there on time.

It was very stressful. Once the hams arrived at corporate headquarters I had to figure out how to distribute them. And then there were people who did not really want their hams but wanted to donate them and feed the hungry. It was my job to coordinate with the feed the hungry organizations and make sure everyone got there quickly because The Christmas Hams go bad without immediate refrigeration. Lives were at stake here.

But the most stressful part was figuring out what to do with my own Christmas ham. Because this was my first real job and The Christmas Ham was considered a a major perk and I was not going to give it up. But what is a Jewish girl in her early twenties supposed to do with a friggin' five pound Christmas ham? Thus, the Christmas ham repurposed as photo op on Laurie and Eric's balcony.

I was there for two Christmas Ham missions. After the second one, I asked my boss if I could send out a survey and see if people really even wanted them. (I was always going to my boss with wacky wild ideas like eliminating The Christmas Ham and he would say "okay, it's your monkey now go feed it." I lurved him! And if I had a scanner I could show you a picture of me sitting on his lap at my goodbye party. That was the music biz in the 80's! And probably now.)

I know you will find this shocking but the employees of Capitol Records, Inc. voted overwhelmingly to eliminate the Christmas Ham. I understand they now shut down between Christmas and New Year's instead. The employees of Capitol Records, Inc. (or more accurately EMI Worldwide) sure do owe me.

Friday, December 02, 2005

So, Do You Think I Need My Eyes Checked?

Yesterday I was with someone in the office kitchen. She opened a cabinet and I said "Oh, wow, a stash of cashews!" She looked at me like I was a crazy person and kind of poked at the thing I was staring at. At which point I realized that it was not a bag of cashews but a bag of brown coffee filters.

On another note, for a second I could not remember how to get here to post. I know it seems like a long time but it has only been a week since I last logged in. So maybe I am losing my mind along with my vision.

And on what I promise will be the last note....I was out to dinner with a bunch of people last night and appropo of something (I am sure), one of them said "Button, button, who's got the button?" and I shrieked "Oh My God, Go Ask Alice!" and she shrieked back and said that I am the only person who has ever gotten the reference.

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