24 December 2008

I Cooked Beef!

Hi. My name is Danie. I do not eat beef, or pork, or anything that isn't chicken, turkey, or fish. It's how I was raised. My mother stopped eating meat one day, and my dad thought it odd she'd give it to her family but not eat it herself. So he stopped. Then they told my brother and I that we'd stopped. It was a pretty simple deduction, since were probably 6 and 4 (or younger) and had no means to buy or cook any meat ourselves. My dad did some reading, validated the decision and now would see it as the ultimate disregard of the way he raised me if I started eating beef or pork now. Trust me when I say nothing can be worth that.

I date a boy named Jesse, who thoroughly enjoys meat. He thinks chicken is terribly boring and really likes beef and pork, but mostly beef. It's a mixed relationship, but we've made it work just fine. Something changed when we moved though, that had Jesse eating as much poultry (and almost as little beef) as I had. I think it's partly because I buy the majority of the groceries and do not know the first thing about cuts of meat or how to buy them. It's also because we've been splitting entrees lately, so we can at least maintain weight without gaining. Also, Jesse's been getting his burger fix at lunch every now and then. Thank you McDonald's. So for Christmas Eve dinner this year, I decided to make him something beefy. All I needed to do was find a recipe, figure out how to buy beef, and learn how to cook it. I gave myself 24 hours to do just that.

Kate helped me find an Oven Baked Rump Roast recipe. If you look at it, you'll see it seems simple enough. If you look again, there are some issues. First of all, how is the bell pepper used? Second, there are no measurements. I like a recipe I can follow to the letter. I am really good at following directions, as long as they are specific. A "pinch" could mean a lot, depending on how deep my fingers go and how tightly they are pressed together. And how can I "season to taste" if I've never made the recipe or eaten the foods involved? Obviously you don't have to be thorough or practical to cook. But I didn't think of any of those things until I committed to the recipe and went to the store.

Selecting A Roast

When it comes to beef, I know it's red. But Jesse once told me it's also dyed to be that way, and that there are signs of aging if you look for them. Unfortunately, when I went to buy the rump, I could not remember what those signs were. Usually we split up in the meat section. I see what Jennie-O has to offer and he watches meat prices. We meet again near chicken, and go from there. So I was in a foreign land Tuesday afternoon. I watched other people buy beef. I listened to conversations with the butchers. And I had no idea what was happening around me. I then saw a guy pushing a cart with freshly packaged red meats. I noticed the cart pusher had the bloodiest clothed out of any of the other butchers and I stopped him. I said "you look like a guy who knows." And he did.

My only other issue was onion salt. I couldn't find it. I found regular salt. I found Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, Garlic Salt and Onion Powder. There was no Onion Salt. I used Onion Powder. When I find Onion Salt, I'll let you know the difference.

Preparing A Surprise

I decided I did not want Jesse to know what I was planning. I didn't want him watching, or worrying, or expecting anything delicious. Plus everything seems more fun when plotting a secret surprise. And I still had to make something for me to eat, so it was an easy enough omission. I decided to make Pan Fried Chicken Breasts with Oregano Garlic Butter. If you look at that recipe, you'll see the kind of specificity a girl like me needs.


I got all my ingredients, and got home with 30 minutes to prepare and hide a roast. It was then I realized I didn't know how much of anything to use. It was the wrong time for that and it cost me. I ended up using 6 cloves of garlic for a 3lb roast. I recommend you not do that. I made thin slices, then mixed them with the Onion Powder, salt and pepper. I then stabbed deep, thin slits into the rump, and stuck slivers of garlic inside. I did not know how much to use. I did not know how a rump retains or spreads flavor. I put a lot of garlic into that meat. I left one section nearly untouched though, in case the rest was terrible. I then rubbed steaks and soy sauces on it, and put most of the remaining garlic slices around it, like confetti. I started wrapping it in plastic wrap, and I heard the key in the door. I panicked.

I whined "NO." Jesse answered, "yes." I ran to the edge of the hallway (rump in hand) and leaned out. I told him he had to go. I explained he could not see what I was doing and that there was nowhere for him to hide and that I need wrapping paper and that he should go get some and that he really should have rang the buzzer so I knew he was coming and that he had to leave immediately.

He looked a little confused and laughed at me. He wanted a snack. I backed away and came back with grapes and without the rump. He made stepping noises, as if he were coming in anyway. I started squealing and screaming. He asked if he should go get coffee. I told him that was an excellent idea. He left. I wrapped the rump, put it in a plastic bag, put that bag in a paper bag, and put both bags in the crisper. My secret was safe.
'Twas the night before Christmas -
actually the start of Christmas Eve.
And Danie was stoked -
more than she could believe.
The menu was set.
They would both be much fatter.
And there were only three holes
in the cookie dough battter.
The stockings were hung.
The gifts were nearly all present.
There were just two delayed,
one from each parent.
But before dinner and gifts,
there were jobs to be done.
There were gifts to be wrapped,
and a search for sweet buns.
Today's about focus -
bringing joy and cheer.
And planning for birthdays
that start early next year.
Have a Happy Holiday,
or Christmas, or Hannukah...
Or Festivus, or birthday...
and a Merry Kwanzaa!

22 December 2008

Gluttony In The Dark (ii)

Coming back from dinner Friday, we were heading downhill when we came to our street. Jesse was the first to notice it was darker than normal and it took us a few seconds to realize there was a power outage (or "failure," to keep with my theme). Being who I am, I pulled a tiny flashlight out of my book bag. We went upstairs and I think the outage was fresh. The place was still warm, the computer still had a full battery, and we heard the people across the hall leave almost right as we got there. We grabbed a second flashlight and planned our own adventure.

There were no utility workers on our street, just a man with a radio standing next to an idling cable car. The street was still humming, so the trolley still had some power. But its lights were out, and its tourists were quiet, as if they were going on a Haunted Hayride up our street. I took a picture with my cell phone, but it was dark, and the flash caught mostly the reflective parts.

Jesse and I decided to visit Coit Tower. It's a tower shaped like a the nozzle on a fireman's hose, commissioned by a firefighter's widow. That's the story Jesse and I heard separately, but Wikipedia cites another source, saying that's not true. I like the more romantic idea, so I won't dispute it. It's atop Telegraph Hill, which is steep. It might actually be the steepest hill we've taken since we got here. Maybe it was because we had just eaten, but my butt started burning before we got to the top. And that doesn't usually happen. I mean I get winded, but I don't usually hurt. But like I wrote, I had eaten a lot before then.

The view heading up to the tower is fantastic. It's also something you'll have to see in person because my camera does not funtion well in the dark and without flash. It would probably work fine on a timer and with some sort of tripod. But from my cold, throbbing hands came only shaky lights.

We haven't done a lot of tourist things since we got here, so neither of us knew there was a plaza and a vantage point from the top of the hill at the base of the tower. It was a clear night and we could see both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. I thought it was a perfect way to spend the evening. It also reminded me that there is a lot more to living here than dealing with poor customer service, running errands, and working out. So far, we've failed at learning San Francisco. It's not entirely our fault (this is a poor time of year to move) but we're both looking forward to becoming locals.

21 December 2008

Gluttony In The Dark (i)

Friday & Saturday can be summed up in two words: "excess," and "failure." That doesn't let on the fun that was both days, but it's true.

It started early Friday morning with a potluck. When you work at 4AM or earlier, chicken strips are perfectly fine at 8. Us morning workers brought food, exchanged Secret Santa gifts and gave away all the crap sent throughout the year by people who want to get on TV. We don't take it as it comes, because it's payola. But at the end of the year, when we have given 0 air time, we draw names out of a name holding apparatus to see who gets what. There is nothing like getting free crap to get you in the holiday spirit.

The potluck was my first "excess" of the weekend. Everything was delicious. I only know that because I administered very thorough taste tests. I ate myself sleepy, and didn't have an coffee to counteract it. And while most people got to succumb to food comas, a few of us still had to work.

I went home thinking I wouldn't need to eat for the rest of the day, but the seed had been sewn. I wrapped presents, watched Mulan, and ate some fruit. I watched Clue, went to the post office, ate some nuts and granola. No. I didn't have anything that wasn't healthy, but I wasn't necessarily hungry either. I was just eating. And then the post office gave me a craving.

We live on the border, or on the transition block between Chinatown and Nob Hill. The nearest Post Office is in Chinatown and on the way there and back, everything smelled too good. I told Jesse I wanted to go out for Chinese. He laughed at me, because we have Chinese food in the fridge. We had been having it for leftovers for much of the week. I admit that it was strange that I wanted more. But I did. So we left Chinatown, went up Nob Hill, and ate a fantastic restaurant recommended by a rental agent we met during the apartment search. We ordered three entrees (two were my picks) and finished them all. It was delicious (although excessive) and we will be going back. We couldn't think of anything to do, so we headed back home, where we found ourselves in the dark.

Adventures In Picture Taking

Below you will find what is likely the most ridiculous picture of us you will ever see. It's from our Christmas card photo shoot Wednesday afternoon. We were at Twin Peaks, where we were running out of daylight. The picture taking had to wait until after Jesse got out of work at 4. He then had to wait for me (because I just had to go to the gym first) and then we had to get the car and find our way. I never doubted we'd find a picture-taker among the tourists, and I was right. However, the woman who volunteered was so fast in doing so, neither of us were ready. I took time to zip my jacket, but not to fix my hat. She took one lovely picture, then asked us to turn and look at each other.


This is not something we have ever done and I do not see us ever doing it again. I turned right away but Jesse hesitated. I knew he was thinking it was ridiculous and he was right. Still, she was doing us a favor and making a genuine effort to leave us with nice options. So I turned and stared at Jesse's profile until he turned as well. Notice my eyes are warning him to keep smiling and to be appreciative. Not him leaning back, as if to say "I know. But I really do not like this." Notice my smile, which is really a laugh at what we were doing. Notice him laughing back.

Again, this is not the picture we chose. It's just not us. But it's there. And I appreciate the woman who took it. And nothing against couples who stage pictures showing them staring into each others' eyes. In fact, more power too them. We'll stay out of your way.

19 December 2008

Power Outage

The power is out on our street - and apparently only our street. This is a picture of the guy trying to figure out the problem. It's a little disconcerting. We heard him say he thinks it's the transformer. He also started poking lines randomly. We came home from dinner an hour and a half ago, and the power was off then. We went for a lovely walk and came back to a power crew and what we hoped was a solution. Instead I'm blogging in the dark, and we're about to suck the laptop dry with a movie.

I did take a lot of other pictures though, from our travels. I'll post them. When the sun comes up, or when we have power - whichever comes first.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

18 December 2008

Toilet Humor

Generally, if I oversleep to the point of being an hour or more late for work, I'll have a bad day. Nothing goes right for me once I wake up in a panic and see things are a little too bright for the time of day it should be. Today I was only 10 minutes late and I realized that too has its repercussions.

I went about my day as I normally would, and that was my mistake.

I now get my morning caffeine from a kiosk that only takes cash. I don't have to bring my ID or anything with me, but I do. Usually it's in my hand or my jacket pocket. Today I stuck my ID / debit / credit card wallet in my back pocket. It was still there when I got back to work, and I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward five hours and I'm done with work with one mission: Christmas cards. Jesse and I are behind on this year after year, and never learn. We took a picture last night that can best be described as rushed. Today I went to a kiosk to print out cards and mail them. The process of picking the background, choosing the text, and printing took less than a half hour. I gathered my stuff to go pay and my ID /debit / credit card wallet was gone.

I checked all my pockets. I checked all my backpack's pockets. I checked again and it was definitely gone. I retraced my steps back to work, crossing the same streets, checking gutters and grates along the way. No luck. I checked with the receptionist at work. Nope. My desk? Clean. Bathroom? Nothing. But I had to go anyway, so I took s break and I went. And I flushed.

And the toilet objected.

And I flushed again, this time with a look.

And there *I was, smiling up at myself from my ID.

The wallet had gone from the back pocket to the toilet with me being none the wiser. I left it there while I walked a half mile or so and made Christmas cards (which I had to leave at the store because I couldn't pay for them). While I panicked and scurried back, my most important pieces of plastic were floating in toilet water. What's worse? I peed on them! TWICE!

Gross? Extremely!

But I plucked it out, and scrubbed each card like no cards have ever been scrubbed before. The wallet was not so fortunate. I couldn't even think about cleaning it. Ick.

So. Here's what we should take away from today:
- People who don't usually have things in their back pockets shouldn't start now.
- Look before you squat. Look after you squat as well.
- Drink a lot of water. It may one day make a tough task easier.
- Wake up on time. Nothing beats starting the day the right way.



~ Danie D.

Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

16 December 2008

Pre Christmas 2008 (iii)

The best way to spend 50 minutes of prep time is to make as big a mess as possible. That way, you're driven to move that much faster so you can actually get to the cleaning. That's at least how I operate, and how I decided to bring Christmas before Jesse came home.

My first step was to designate the stockings. I figured it would give the glitter glue the maximum amount of time to dry. I'm not sure if I've ever used glitter glue before last week. Back in my day, we used Elmer's glue if we wanted a sparkling statement, then sprinkled the glitter on top and let it sit. Nowadays it's apparently all about convenience. As if there were something wrong with pieces of glitter stored in places unknown for all eternity.

My first hint that I was using too much glitter glue came when I used an entire tube writing "Jes." My second hint was when I dropped Jesse's stocking, glitter glue down. I pulled the stocking away unscathed. The floor was not as lucky. I've always been a little heavy handed.


I then took time to hide little candies for Jesse. If I left them out at once, he'd eat them all and regret it. Hiding was much more fun, or so I thought.

Then it was time for the tree. It was a perfect fit in the phone-indent. The lights were not. They were meant to go around a real tree, and were therefore quite long. I wrapped them around the tree, but they were too heavy. Logically my next step was to grab a hammer and nails and make a way to hang them. I added nails for the stockings while I was at it. I was also careful not to hit any of the little Buddhas Jesse brought home randomly. They're happily basking in the glow.

I got everything sorted and put away before Jesse got home. He was excited about the tree and I'll say "motivated" by the candies. He searched high and low and still hasn't found them all. The glitter glue was not dry (the third hint that I used too much), so we had to wait a few hours to put it all together.

It's difficult to take pictures of our Christmas corner, because it's in a hallway opposite a wall. The only way to see it is at an angle. Unfortunately that's the worst way to take pictures of it. Just trust me when I tell you it's perfect.

15 December 2008

Pre Christmas 2008 (ii)

We don't have a lot of stuff, so technically we could have gotten a very large Christmas tree. We do however have an indentation in our hallway that was likely designed for a phone. Presently it's a great size for a Charlie-Brown-sized Christmas tree. And that's exactly what we decided to get. I didn't see any in town, so I decided Target would be my best bet.

That's another thing about San Francisco. Macy's can take up an entire city block, but Target is a no-no. Apparently it's more convenient to have Walgreen's gouge pedestrians and make the people with cars take a drive.
Target (as usual) had everything I needed, and one things I thoroughly enjoyed: a cart escalator. The store is in two floors, and each floor is different. There are two elevators. But also this:




I could have watched that thing (and the people trying to operate it) all day. But I was there for progress. I am pleased to report I made it. I found a tiny Christmas tree, that was meant to be more of a decoration. I found stockings to hang underneath it and glitter glue pens for writing our names. I found lights, tape, wrapping paper, gift labels, and a container that could store it all once it's done. I also did a little grocery shopping. I'm trying to limit my trips out there to once a month or less. When I lived in Vegas I would probably go once a week. I got used to products that I either can't find or refuse to buy in other stores. My name is Danie, and I am addicted to Target.

I loaded up at Target, knowing I would either have to walk a mile from the parking garage uphill to our apartment, or park illegally, bring the stuff upstairs, drop the car off at the garage then walk the mile uphill to get home. I decided to take what I thought was the most efficient road: I parked. I put on my book bag, hoisted my large canvas bag, grabbed my gift wrap storage container with both hands, and started walking. Five blocks later - just before the hill - I remembered I live in San Francisco. And we have cable cars for people just like me.



So there I was, standing among the tourists laden with cleaning products, fruit (frozen, dried, and cupped), a tiny Christmas tree, and a storage bin. I'm sure I made for an interesting sight. I would have asked someone to take my picture, but I could barely reach my wallet. The camera was out of the question. I was at the Cable Car stop pictured above though. It was a dreary afternoon too. All that's missing is me. You can mentally insert me right there at the end of the line. Thanks.


I got off at the bottom of the hill on my street. A smarter Danie would have waited and got off at the top. But there is some sort of switch that happens there. It takes time and I thought I could get up the hill faster if I were on foot. I might have beat the trolley, if not for the Jehovah's Witnesses blocking my doorway. They had accosted the mail carrier and I swear he saw me as his escape. Ernest & Steven were very pleasant. They apologized for stopping me when I was very clearly busy, but stopped me all the same. They gave me their literature and offered to come back and discuss the meaning of life with me. I was pleasant, because I know doorbell ringing is part of what they do, like not eating meat on Fridays between Ash Wednesday & Easter. Still, I will not be making myself available for chat time.

After all that, it was 3:30, and I had 50 minutes to deliver Christmas before Jesse got home. I knew it was doable.

14 December 2008

Pre Christmas 2008 (i)

I spent the most of the weekend preparing for Christmas. Now I will bring you the fruits of my labor, carved up in easily digestible pieces.

I had a personal day to use at work by the end of the year, and I decided to use it Friday. I slept in and woke up with Jesse - meaning I was getting to the gym at 7 as he was getting to work. After the gym, it was go time. I had given myself one day to bring Christmas to our place. I figured if we could do Thanksgiving in a morning, a business day for Christmas shouldn't be too difficult. My calculations were incorrect.

After the gym, I had breakfast and coffee, then went into The Container Store. If you've never heard of it, don't worry about it. It's nothing. If you have heard about it, you know it's an organizer's dream. I happen to be such an organizer and I also happen to emphatically enjoy The Container Store. If Oprah can keep her mouth shut, it'll remain our little secret. And no, I'm not picking on her eating issues. I digress.

I went into the Container Store for things that were cheapest there. I did my research beforehand. I did not want Jesse accusing me of buying things just because they were at The Container Store. There really are things there cost less than they would at both Bed Bath & Beyond and Target. I was being a smart consumer. As a reward, I treated myself to a couple of things I normally could nor get if Jesse were with me.

From there, I went to get my car. I had a lot of errands to run and while things do get done on foot, they can get done faster on wheels. Plus it had been two weeks since I'd even seen my little Henry. I checked his paint (still scratched), his windows (still one that's not like the others), and his wipers (still dried out from the desert). He was just as I had left him. Together, we went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond, where I was hoping to use any of the 5 coupons I had on drip pans. We don't need them at our new place, but I have to replace them at the old one. Unfortunately, BB&B sells drip pans in sets of 4, with two big pans and 2 little ones. Our tiny little stove requires 3 little ones and only 1 big one. I took my used drip pans back to our old apartment (paid through the 21st) where I checked the mail and got the last two bundles of cleaning supplies. I then went to our new place, where I spent 30 minutes circling and looking for parking. I ended up parking illegally, unloading the stuff, paying for a metered spot, and showering before my time limit expired. It was only Noon. But I still needed a Christmas tree. It was time to head to Target.

12 December 2008

Officially Too Legit To Quit

We've moved, and now by blog has too. Jesse bought www.piqueaboo.com for me. It might just be fewer letters to you, but it means a lot to me. And honestly I'm not even sure why. The premise for the site will be the same and http://piqueaboo.blogspot.com will still redirect here. Still, I'm registered and listed in a directory. I think that means I'm an official blogger, although I have no certificate identifying me as such. The "www" adds something, and will make it a lot easier for parents to find me. We communicate mostly by phone, and a lot on three way conversations, so spelling it out gets annoying. I suspect it got me in trouble once as well, but that's another story.

Interesting fact: it can take up to three days for www.piqueaboo.com to spread across the Internet. Jesse called it "populating." He explained the Internet is large. I told him I thought it was fast. I suppose we're both right.

Anyway, change (or add) your bookmarks. I'm certified!

10 December 2008

As I Lay

I'm about be to asleep, and reflecting on the day. First of all, I got a credit from Comcast for my troubles. That was pleasant and I feel satisfied.

I'm also pleased the House passed the Auto Bailout Bill. Although I see Republicans in the Senate want to stop it. I hope the GOP knows that's why most Americans voted against their anti-working-class ways.

I'm also smiling at my dad, who just makes me smile.

I went to the gym today and got to talk to Abby. Together we came up with a way to help us both reach our weight loss goals. We even gave ourselves repercussions.

Today was highly productive. I am pleased.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

Update: Blog It Out

I got a call from Mark. He exists. He is actually very nice and didn't mean to annoy me further by asking for my phone number. I assured him it was fine. He said protocol was not being followed and he is getting it to the West Coast Office. He also apologized for calling before 8AM.

Complaint? Blog It Out

I now officially recommend blogging to have your voice heard. I mentioned Comcast Cable in my Monday night blathering, and less than a full day later, I had a response seemingly from corporate. If you missed it, here it is:
 
Did you notice how he asked for my phone number after that was the root of my problem? I Googled him, to see if he was real and he apparently is. I read a blog post from someone who had actually talked to him. I also read another post from someone with an email problem. He left her a comment asking her to email him. This Mark must be witty.
 
I'll let you know my resolution. Hopefully it'll be as positive and I won't be forced to cancel my service or anything drastic like that. Been down that road. Fortunately it worked out.

09 December 2008

A Day Without A Gay - Not OK

Tomorrow (10 December) is supposed to be a political statement against the passage of Proposition 8 here in California. Gays, lesbians, and I presume their supporters are supposed to "call out gay" from their jobs. Their also supposed to not buy anything. The idea behind "A Day Without A Gay" (again - presumably) is to show queer folk are a large part of the population. They help keep the economy going, they work in the same offices, teach in the same schools, and therefore deserve the right to marry one another. I get that. I agree with that. I do not support that.

I've been thinking about it all day. I voted against Prop 8. I think marriage is a spiritual thing between two people and who or whatever they worship. Meanwhile discrimination is ugly. It's wrong to tell a group it can't do something because of the unifying characteristics of its members. The same people who can be talked into denying marriage to a gay couple can probably be talked into preventing obese people from flying. I can hear them now "I believe a flight is a between one seat and one person who can fit inside of it comfortably." Supporting discrimination means it won't end. Still, I'm not behind this day without a gay, and I'm not sure why.

It could be that it reminds me of that day last year when all the supporters of illegal immigrants stayed home. Very few things get my blood going like illegal immigrants. Illegal is illegal and that's all I'll say about that. I do not want to associate the two causes, because to me, they are very different.

Or maybe it's the impact. Gay people are likely to shop in gay friendly businesses, work in gay friendly places, with (at least mostly) gay friendly coworkers. Avoiding stores that may be struggling in this economy will hurt the gay community. Staying home from work might hurt your gay friendly job and anger your overworked and gay friendly coworkers. Mormon money defeated Prop 8. Mormon finances will not be hurt by gays at work, or by gays at home. I think "A Day Without A Gay" hurts supporters of same sex marriage by making a point to the people who already get it.

So to my darling LGBT friends I say go out, be gay, show your spending power. And I'll see you at work tomorrow.


~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

08 December 2008

What To Say... What To Say...

I come to you this evening with very little. I thought I'd have something to say by this time - something I couldn't wait to share and that was consuming my every thought. Instead I bring you snippets from throughout the day.

Jesse and I both worked Saturday and didn't do anything exciting. He worked 8 - 5, and I worked 1 - 11:30. We met for lunch at noon, and it was a minor disaster. Jesse was late, so we had less time to eat. My food had ham in it, so I had nothing to eat. Jesse ate his meal and followed it with my hash, so I got to watch him eat twice. He raved about how good it was, so I knew exactly what I was missing.

We tried a different grocery store on Sunday. It's larger and closer than the one we've been using. It's also down a steeper hill. Hills matter when you carry your groceries, which we do. We're using giant reusable bags I got from Steve Madden. The can hold a lot but really aren't meant to do so. We will be getting a cart though, to save my shoulders and make the trek easier.

We stayed in Sunday afternoon. I had wanted to go to Target, but I wanted to go through the Sunday circulars first. I did neither. Somehow we both forgot to pick up a paper. Jesse burned his hand Sunday night, and now has three plump blisters.

My only notes today are another poor customer service experience, poor self discipline, and change in thinking. I have been a Comcast customer for less than three weeks and I am already writing a letter to them. My Internet was out. I called and I gave them major points for having a person answer the phone. I gave that person my name and number and asked for tech support. I was put on hold.

Someone answered. I gave them my name, phone number, and address. I was told I was being redirected to tech support, and was put on hold.

A woman answered. I asked if her is she was in tech support. She said no. But promised to transfer me. But first she needed my name, phone number, address, and the number I dialed to reach them. I was put on hold.

The next woman who answered said she was in tech support, and asked for my phone number. I asked her who had my number. I told her I had given my number three different times, and I asked her why she didn't have it. I then realized I sounded like one of those people who call TV stations and say ridiculous things over which the phone - answerer has no control. I then got to my problem. The woman on the phone had me power cycle - which I had already done four times. Of course it worked with her on the phone. So I was the crazy caller who didn't even have a real problem. I blame Comcast for making me crazy. My letter will paint my side a little differently.

I did not go to the gym today. I came home and took a nap. It was the wrong decision. I'm still sleepy at my regular time, and will not be leaving the comforts of home to walk a mile to the gym and back. I know what works for me. I have to stop trying to find something easier and just do it.

As for the change in thinking: I could not bring myself to refer to U.S. auto manufacturers as "The Big 3" today. I kept thinking it was no longer accurate, as much as I wanted it to be. I didn't call them "The Little 3," I just referred to them as what the are: struggling businesses. I was a little disappointed in myself, feeling as if I had turned my back on them. But my politics are the same. All that's changed is my thinking.

Other than that, my Pique A Boo is three years old. That's a milestone. It's about do for a format change. So be on the lookout for that.

04 December 2008

Adventures in Clothes Washing

I did laundry Thursday afternoon and it was an experience like none other. We don't have a washer / dryer in our apartment, nor do we don't have one in our building. Fortunately this is a common occurrence, and there are laundry facilities all over this neighborhood. We found one just up the hill and across the street and another around the corner, sans a street to cross. I chose to go to the second one, because it's larger and for some reason that translated to me as more convenient.

It's been a while since I did laundry. I think I washed clothes before my last trip to Vegas, which means before the move, before Thanksgiving, and before this whole week that's just about gone by. The dirty clothes were split between the two apartments, and therefore were able to disguise themselves as "not that many" clothes. But we ended up having five (5!) loads. I got to wash them all at once, which is a major perk. The drawback being I of course had to pay. And I'm not sure the convenience is worth $13, but it's my only option. So let's say it is.

Another perk - being around the corner from home. It's going to be very convenient for me to drop off the stuff that dries on a rack while everything else is drying.

Another drawback - the change machine doesn't take the new $10 bill. I had to go next door and buy something for change. That was my thinking at the time. Now though I realize I should have asked to swap $10 bills. I would have saved dollars and calories.

Anyway, our clothes are clean. I learned that a lot of men do the laundry in the SF Chinese culture, and that a quarter will only get you so far.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

Points For Congress, From Mitch Albom

It's too early in the morning for me to have anything to say, but this was sent to me by my friend jdixon. And it's a good read.

MITCH ALBOM

If I had the floor at auto hearings

 

OK. It's a fantasy. But if I had five minutes in front of Congress last week, here's what I would've said:

Good morning. First of all, before you ask, I flew commercial. Northwest Airlines. Had a bag of peanuts for breakfast. Of course, that's Northwest, which just merged with Delta, a merger you, our government, approved -- and one that, inevitably, will lead to big bonuses for their executives and higher costs for us. You seem to be OK with that kind of business.

Which makes me wonder why you're so against our kind of business? The kind we do in Detroit. The kind that gets your fingernails dirty. The kind where people use hammers and drills, not keystrokes. The kind where you get paid for making something, not moving money around a board and skimming a percentage.

You've already given hundreds of billions to banking and finance companies -- and hardly demanded anything. Yet you balk at the very idea of giving $25 billion to the Detroit Three. Heck, you shoveled that exact amount to Citigroup -- $25 billion -- just weeks ago, and that place is about to crumble anyhow.

Does the word "hypocrisy" ring a bell?

Protecting the home turf?

Sen. Richard Shelby. Yes. You. From Alabama. You've been awfully vocal. You called the Detroit Three's leaders "failures." You said loans to them would be "wasted money." You said they should go bankrupt and "let the market work."

Why weren't you equally vocal when your state handed out hundreds of millions in tax breaks to Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda and others to open plants there? Why not "let the market work"? Or is it better for Alabama if the Detroit Three fold so that the foreign companies -- in your state -- can produce more?

Way to think of the nation first, senator.

And you, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. You told reporters: "There's no reason to throw money at a problem that's not going to get solved."

That's funny, coming from such an avid supporter of the Iraq war. You've been gung ho on that for years. So how could you just sit there when, according to the New York Times, an Iraqi former chief investigator told Congress that $13 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds "had been lost to fraud, embezzlement, theft and waste" by the Iraqi government?

That's 13 billion, senator. More than half of what the auto industry is asking for. Thirteen billion? Gone? Wasted?

Where was your "throwing money at a problem that's not going to get solved" speech then?

Watching over the bankers?

And the rest of you lawmakers. The ones who insist the auto companies show you a plan before you help them. You've already handed over $150 billion of our tax money to AIG. How come you never demanded a plan from it? How come when AIG blew through its first $85 billion, you quickly gave it more? The car companies may be losing money, but they can explain it: They're paying workers too much and selling cars for too little.

AIG lost hundred of billions in credit default swaps -- which no one can explain and which make nothing, produce nothing, employ no one and are essentially bets on failure.

And you don't demand a paragraph from it?

Look. Nobody is saying the auto business is healthy. Its unions need to adjust more. Its models and dealerships need to shrink. Its top executives have to downsize their own importance.

But this is a business that has been around for more than a century. And some of its problems are because of that, because people get used to certain wages, manufacturers get used to certain business models. It's easy to point to foreign carmakers with tax breaks, no union costs and a cleaner slate -- not to mention help from their home countries -- and say "be more like them."

But if you let us die, you let our national spine collapse. America can't be a country of lawyers and financial analysts. We have to manufacture. We need that infrastructure. We need those jobs. We need that security. Have you forgotten who built equipment during the world wars?

Besides, let's be honest. When it comes to blowing budgets, being grossly inefficient and wallowing in debt, who's better than Congress?

So who are you to lecture anyone on how to run a business?

Ask fair questions. Demand accountability. But knock it off with the holier-than-thou crap, OK? You got us into this mess with greed, a bad Fed policy and too little regulation. Don't kick our tires to make yourselves look better.

02 December 2008

I Don't Know What Came Over Me

A few days ago, Jesse mentioned he wanted green beans. I (having already turned into my mother) don't normally buy green beans because I don't love them as much as I love other vegetables. I'll eat green beans, and enjoy them, but I can only think of one time when I've actually sought them.

Jesse got peas instead and seemed content. But the green beans stayed with me. I knew I'd go get them, but green beans alone are not worth a trip to the grocery store. It's a 15 minute walk to get there and gradually uphill on the way back. If I was to go, it would be for a meal.

On Monday I found what I thought to be the perfect recipe: Italian Green Beans and Potatoes. That's the website picture to your right. It has green beans for Jesse and potatoes for me. But beans and potatoes alone (or together) do not a meal make. Today I picked Baked Flounder Fillets in Lemon-Soy Vinaigrette to go with it. And I learned having a meal planned in your head can make you crazy if you don't actually make it.

I thought of this meal all day. Mostly about whether Jesse would like it and if I could pull it off before he got home. He would and I did.

I left work at 12:47 and walked to the gym. I left the gym just after 2:30 and walked to the grocery store. There, the whole plan nearly fell apart because I could not find Yukon Gold Potatoes. The recipe calls for them specifically and while I thought of adding a lot of butter to add a Yukon Gold flavor, that seemed like cheating. Plus it goes against my strict new health rules. On top of that, there was no Flounder. So there I was: fresh out of the gym, stinking in the grocery store, sorting through potatoes and muttering "I need gold, people, gold." I did eventually find some yellow potatoes and chose Tilapia instead of Flounder. Then I was on my way.

It was 3:26 when I got home. Jesse gets home less than an hour after that. I took a shower and started mincing. For some reason I had to have dinner ready for Jesse. I think part of it is being healthy. I don't want to eat boring foods every day. It'll make me cheat more. If I want something fun, healthy, and delicious, I'd best make it myself. Other than that, I was just determined to prove I could do it all: work, exercise, and make dinner. It's tough. But I did it.



There you have it, the healthy meal I whipped up this afternoon. There were two fillets, but I thought it necessary to flip them and ruined one. Jesse is against mixing greens beans and potatoes, even though he said both were good individually. He also really liked the fish.

We went for a walk after we ate, and Jesse started on the dishes. We're hopelessly boring these days, while the checkbooks recover from the move. Tomorrow it'll be even worse, as we'll be having leftovers. You do recall I made four (4) hens on Thursday.

01 December 2008

New Hope Equals New Motivation

Today my new doctor said "I agree with myself." He had sought (or told me he sought) a second opinion about whether I should have my gallbladder removed. The thought right now is no. My doctor says I'm young and healthy (but chubby - his word) and should be fine. He wants to wait a year, and test my most useless organ then. He says it fills up with bile just fine. I don't know if there was a doubt about that. I'm concerned though about what happens when it doesn't excrete that bile. I like my doctor, but there will be litigation if something ruptures. You may be called upon to testify.

Other potentially positive yet potentially health-damaging news: I've been given the green light to ease up on the blood pressure medicine. Of course that's only if I exercise and lose weight. I have exactly two months to test this, and find out if I'm healthy enough to self regulate. So far I'm not even daring to dream of a life without pills. I've planned to pay for prescriptions for the rest of my life. A reprieve isn't even imaginable. But I have new hope. It'll keep me motivated to exercise.

Jesse has also promised to help me be healthy. He knows what's in store for him. I am what he affectionately calls a "garbage gut." If it's loaded with sugar and has no nutritional value, I can't live without it.

Good luck to us both I suppose.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

The Calm. Then The Storm.

After we ate Thursday, we started fighting the food coma. We had slept for about 11 hours Wednesday night (we blame the new and much more comfortable bed) and were not at all tired Thursday morning. We had planned to get the rest of our stuff from the old place, and sort through the paper for Black Friday deals. Unfortunately we were late getting on that train. All the papers were sold out. We tried to grocery stores and as many of those sidewalk machines as Jesse could find. So we ate. And there was nothing else to do. So we sat. But there was only one place to sit. We talked. And we slept. And then came Friday.
 
We had ideas, but no plan. I wanted to hit Ikea, Target, and The Container Store. We also needed to get our stuff. All of these steps required a lot of forethought - because we want to be as efficient as possible with driving and parking. In the end we started with Ikea, as it was the furthest away. It was the first time either of us had been to an Ikea and it was overwhelming. We found a lot of things we liked, as well as a lot of things we could have convinced ourselves we needed. We bought a nice dresser for $150, and I considered that trip to be a success. We did get to Target, where I missed a lot off my list. It's different when I shop with a person. I want to hurry and not waste their time. Jesse wanders, so it's easier with him. But I still do not want to dawdle. Plus Target was a zoo on Friday. We left as quickly as we could. And I was already making my next shopping list as Jesse drove us home.
 
And thus went the last three days. We browsed. We bought. We bickered. Now we have everything we need to get us through the rest of the year. Some things have to wait because of Christmas shopping. There are also bills and the double rent thing. Still - Jesse and I more excited than before. These are exciting times.

30 November 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Jesse and I both had four days off for the Thanksgiving Holiday. It was the worst and the best timing ever. The worst because the stars could not align for us to go to North Dakota. We had held out hope that we'd be able to go, and gave serious thought to driving the 54 hours there and back. But we still would have missed most of Thanksgiving Day. So we decided against it. But we were really close.

The break was the best timing for our move though. We got the keys to our new place a week ago, and got our bed Tuesday. We moved most of our stuff Wednesday, and were able to have a little Thanksgiving on Thursday. It reads easy enough, but trust me when I tell you it was an ordeal.

Going back to Wednesday, I had a doctor's appointment after work. It was not gallbladder related (although I see that doctor tomorrow) but it was more than halfway across town. I did not schedule it that way - the doctor apparently changed her mind about where she wanted to be. Must be nice.

By the time I got out of the office and found my way back to our temporary place, it was 4PM. We packed, loaded the car, illegally parked, dropped off our stuff, and went to the grocery store. I don't think Jesse had ever been to a supermarket the night before Thanksgiving. He thought we would be able to get a flyer, make a list, and shop. We couldn't. We didn't. We left.

So there we were - hours from having my Thanksgiving hopes ruined. We had no food, only half our stuff, and no plan. We went back to our new place, found a legal parking spot, and decided to try again Thanksgiving morning.


I don't remember what time we got up, but it wasn't too early. There were significantly fewer people at the grocery store and more game hens, which is what I decided to make. Optimism was restored.


Back at the new home I was ready to get to work, but couldn't. My hens were frozen. There was nothing to do but bathe them in hot water and wait. I had lemon and rosemary to put in their "cavities," and frozen birds don't give an inch. I did take time from the bathing though to learn how to properly peel garlic. I had always stopped at the papery part. Jesse showed me they're actually quite smooth.


Eventually they warmed (and opened) up to me. I stuffed them, and roasted them with garlic, olive oil, white wine, and chicken broth. I also mashed potatoes and made peas. We had ice cream for dessert and everything was delicious, although minimalistic.


We don't have a table. We don't have chairs. We don't have serving dishes or other grown up things. We have boxes. And one storage bin which makes a great table for formal dining.


I think we made the best out of what we had. We have plenty of leftovers (the recipe called for four hens) and haven't been nibbling too much (our microwave is still in Vegas). I have a lot to be thankful for this season, specifically Jesse - who keeps me sane, my new job - which keeps me employed, our apartment - which keeps us warm, our family - which supports us moving all over the country, and our friends - who read my blog and just care about us.

26 November 2008

All I Could Stand

I had all I could stand Tuesday afternoon. I came home from the gym, and wanted nothing more than to make a nice dinner for us. I thought of picking up some chicken and making a pasta medley. I would also have to pick up frozen vegetables, as our freezer is too small to keep more than three things frozen.

This is the kitchen in our temporary place. The silver thing under the counter is the fridge. There is storage above and below the sink and the only counter space is next to the sink. That's where we prepare food, dry dishes, put the bowl when we want to pour cereal. It's a miserable situation for two people who like to eat together. Today the prospect of making due in that kitchen made me inactive. I stared at it and couldn't think of a plan of action. I wanted to be out of there and since the only thing stopping our move was a bed, I went bed shopping.

I compiled a list of all the mattress stores in our area. I plotted them on my google map, and headed out. I spotted Dirt Cheap Mattresses on the way to my first stop. It appeared to have exactly what I was hoping to find, so I went inside.


I was the only customer in there and the sales guy was really nice. He made suggestions in my price range, and pulled out mattress after mattress for me to try. I flopped and prodded and found one I really liked. And I got a woman discount on it.
There are certainly cons to buying certain things as a woman. There are pros as well though. He gave me $150 off the price he originally quoted me for the bed. He took $50 off the quoted box spring price, and gave me the frame for free. Delivery was another $75. So for $500, we got a queen sized bed, box spring, frame, and same day delivery. I'm pleased with my purchase, and with the fact that Jesse was happy for me to be happy. Part of me was worried he would have wanted to be there to make sure I wasn't getting ripped off. I don't think I was though, and that's good enough for him. He's so perfect for me.
Jesse and I went to the new place to wait for the delivery guy. While we waited, we took measurements and discussed floor plans Jesse had designed. We talked about paint, decorations, and how we are going to move. We listened to music, played card games, and shared a $5 foot long. I called the bed store, we paced, and I started blogging. Eventually the delivery guy showed up. He was 18 minutes late, but it felt a lot later, as I'm usually in bed at 7:30.
As soon as he left, we tore into the plastic, assembled the frame, and almost fell asleep there. The bed is high, and really comfortable. It's also on wheels, which will be a problem on the wood floors. The bed and I slid as I was diving onto it. We'll have to get little feet for it, just to keep it steady.
Now we have a bed. It's more exciting than finding a parking garage for my car. We're going to start moving this afternoon, and my first order of business will be to give my bus fair to a Salvation Army bell ringer. 'Tis the season to be thankful. And we really are.

25 November 2008

Saturday & Sunday | Time Lost

Saturday Morning in Vegas came really fast. We stayed at the Venetian, which appears to have an awesome pool. I was really full from my 5AM sandwich and fries, and more than a little hungover. Kate called for breakfast and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The thought of driving, and the act of walking, made me swoon. All I wanted was water. And after four cups of sink water, I realized I would have to leave the room to get it.

Again I thought of driving. My head was steadied by what I know to be the price of water, and by what I could imagine the hotel would charge. My laziness won, and Neena and I went to the first kiosk we found. I paid $15.50 for two large and one small bottle of water. Even as I paid, I debated driving. But I looked and felt like crap, and if $15.50 was the only price I had to pay, that wasn't a bad deal.

Eventually I had to leave to run errands. The most important of which being a stop at our storage unit. I am pleased to report our belongings can fit in one van. No truck needed here folks. I repacked one box and grabbed a bag of exercise equipment to bring back with me. I then went back to the hotel to get ready for a much more relaxed night on the town. Me and my ridiculous intentions.

I met a small group at the Pink Taco for dinner and drinks. I wanted a time to see just the faces that made me smile the most. It was a fantastic idea, because I could talk to everyone and not feel pressured to make rounds every five minutes. At the end of the night, there were just two of us. I didn't know the Pink Taco closed, until they turned on the lights and gave me a water. Ian (my late night drinking buddy) and I went to the Circle Bar and had a fantastic discussion about medical maladies, misconduct, affirmative action, preconceived notions, and family gossip. The cab dropped me off at the hotel at 4AM Sunday. I thought that was plenty of time for a nap before my 735AM flight. I was wrong.

I woke up at 623AM, with Melissa standing over me saying "oh you are still here." I proceeded to scramble. I knew I could physically get on a flight in an hour. But I wasn't so sure about filling up the rental car, dropping it off, taking the shuttle to the airport, and checking a box and a bag. I was sure there were other flights for me to catch, but I really wanted the one I already paid for. So I went.

I called Southwest as I drove. The woman told me she could not check me in, and that my next flight option was $173. I paid $60 for the flight I was about to miss. In fact, I don't think I spent $173 the two nights I was in Vegas. I skipped the gas for the car. Dollar Rental charged me $25 for that. It was even more motivation to not have to pay for another flight. My issue - and what ultimately screwed me - were the things I brought out of storage. I had to carry the box from the rental car drop-off site to the shuttle bus. The box was heavy, and there were no carts to help me. I had to take a break once, and I couldn't walk as fast. Time lost.

I also had to put the box in a little cage for the shuttle ride. I then had to grab it from the bottom of said cage when it was time to leave. Of all the shuttle drivers in the world, mine was a woman. She was older than me and in worse shape and I was not about to make her do my heavy lifting just because it's her job. Time lost.

The shuttle drop-off point is close to the edge of the terminal. Unfortunately Southwest is close to the other edge. I carried the box to a kiosk, where I checked in, but couldn't check my bags. I carried the box some more and decided to buy a luggage cart. I've never used a cart kiosk before, so it took me at least a minute to figure it out. I was hampered by a woman who offered to help, then gave me the wrong instructions. Time lost.

Of course I wasn't the only person leaving Vegas on a Sunday morning. I had to wait in line to check my box. Twenty minutes before departure I told the woman taking my box that I was about to miss my flight. She said I had to actually miss it before she could book me on another. That kind of gave me renewed hope. I gave her my box, took my two bags, and had to find a place to ditch my luggage cart. Time lost.

Security was not a breeze either. I didn't have time to get all my liquids in the baggie. I couldn't find the baggie anyway. I left a nice bottle of lotion on the counter. My bags started coming, then stopped on the belt. The TSA guy took my bag of exercise equipment and told me I could not bring weights on the plane. Yes, I had been carrying two 8lb weights along for the ride. I told him to take them. He asked if I wanted to check them. I looked at my phone and it was 734AM. I told him my flight was leaving at that moment and there was no time for checking. He then explained that weights are technically "clubbing items" that cannot be carried onto a plane. They should put that up on the picture with the pocket knives and lighters. He then slowly unzipped the bag and took his time taking out the weights. He asked me which gate I needed. I told him. He said it was on the other end of the terminal. He then asked again what I wanted to do with the weights, if I wanted to mail them to myself.

First of all -- the post office charges by weight. Why would I want to send myself weights?

I then explained (again) that I had to go. And that he could have the weights.

I got to the terminal at 739AM. Too much time lost.

My original flight had me going to LA and changing flights. I was put on the 825AM flight to LA. That flight landed and taxied for 10 - 15 minutes. I got off the plane at 935AM, just in time to hear my name paged for the 950 flight to San Francisco. I made it with minutes to spare.

I had been texting Jesse from the check in line, and from the security line. The text that woke him up though, was the one that read: "Here."

24 November 2008

Party Like It's Almost 2009

I went to Vegas as a tourist Friday and I had a blast. Most of my friends from my last job got together to celebrate a birthday. It wasn't just any birthday - it was Melissa's 30th birthday. That means it was a big deal. And I think we did it right.

I flew Virgin America Friday afternoon (so far nothing from their customer service department about that other issue) and I thoroughly enjoyed the flight. I enjoyed the fact that Virgin is in the International Terminal at SFO, and that I didn't have to take the airtrain to get there. I enjoyed that the staff pushed the passengers to be friends with Virgin on Facebook. I enjoyed the colors on the plane and I (not having any cable of my own) especially enjoyed the television.


There weren't very many channels, but I passed the time just fine with CNN, The Disney Channel, and VH1. I flew to Vegas without missing the latest on the what Congress did not do for the big 3, a new (to me) episode of Phineas & Ferb, and a Rock Doc on the last days of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes. Thank you Virgin America for an enjoyable 90 minutes. Your customer service is still lacking.

I arrived just before six, got my rental car, picked up a purse from storage, and met Melissa at the Venetian. I showered, ironed, and proceeded to paint the town, as they say. A group of familiar faces met at the Hard Rock Circle Bar. I don't know if that's the official name, but it's a circle, and it's a bar. It's also a place we frequented when we all lived here.

It wasn't the same Circle Bar I remembered though. The bar itself was the same (still circular) but everything around it had been upgraded to be more rock & roll, more jiggly, more stereotypical Vegas. I don't think I liked it. It's just not the place where we made our memories. It's okay though - we made new ones.

We're all a bit different too. Once strong relationships have fallen apart. Once cordial associations have cemented. There were a lot of things that went unsaid but also a lot of good conversation. Thinking back to my first year in Vegas, I'm amazed at how much is different and at how much is still the same when we get together. We still like to party.

We went to LAX just before 1 Saturday morning. We were out until 4, when four of us decided to have "girl talk." we went to our room, got comfortable, ordered room service, and passed out before it got there.

From there, confusion ensued. I woke up maybe an hour later, thinking room service either didn't come, or came and left because we didn't answer the door. Everyone else was asleep on different corners of the bed. I got up to look for a blanket and there it was: a spread of tortilla chips, sandwiches, and french fries. Room service came through. That only confused me more. Who let them in? Did they just take the money off the table? Can they do that? Turns out they can't. Three of us slept through room service coming. The fourth double tipped. I sat up, turned on CNN, ate my sandwich, and went back to sleep, using a towel as a blanket. Viva Las Vegas.

21 November 2008

We Have Keys

Jesse picked up the keys to our new place today. I met him there after work and I'm not sure I can describe how good it feels. It's only our second time inside, and there are things we didn't look at closely when we toured. We both assumed we'd be able to look at it again before we signed the lease. We envisioned a walk through with the landlord where we could talk about anything that might need to be fixed or replaced. We're dreamers. That's just not how it works in San Francisco. We signed the lease the day after first seeing it and didn't see it again until today. We still love it.

The bedroom and kitchen are huge. The living room is s good size for a living room, but small for a living / dining area. There are wood floors in those areas, linoleum in the kitchen, and my least favorite kind of tile floor in the bathroom. There are a lot of windows, natural light, and kitchen storage. There is only one closet.

I firmly believe we can fit all of our stuff inside (even the 10 boxes of books) if we get creative. We're taking any and all space saving ideas.

I'm excited to make that place ours. It's the first place we've picked together and it'll be the first place we design together. When we moved to Vegas, I picked the place and got there first while Jesse finished his lease. I had months to decorate and somehow it felt like he was moving in with me, instead of us moving in together. That's all different this time around and I'm really excited. I know he is too. Go us.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

Virgin America | Today's Disappointment

I don't know what it is about me that attracts poor customer service. I try to be pleasant enough. I wait on hold and I make people laugh. Yet I'm still waiting on a Nevada Power refund that's two months old. And now my exciting time on Virgin America is being clouded with frustration.
 
I had so much trouble booking my flight, I had to call customer service. I had error message after error message that prevented me from booking once I had selected my flight and my seat. That was weeks ago. This morning I tried to check in, and got two different error messages. I tried 8 times to both check in and log in to my Elite account. It didn't work. I called customer service and the woman was abrupt and rude. She didn't offer to help me troubleshoot, and honestly I don't know if there was anything she could do. Still, I was not prepared for her to tell me to just check in at the airport.
 
So I wrote a letter. I had to shorten it for their character allotment:
 
I tried to check into my flight this morning, and received two different error messages. I first tried to check in through a link sent to me via email. That resulted in an error message saying I had been gone too long and that my session had expired. I then tried to check in on your website. I tried more than five times and received an error message each time. I then called customer service, and was not offered any help. The woman told me to check in at the airport.
 
I had the same problem with error messages in booking my flight. I called customer service and was helped.
 
I'm frustrated with your website and affronted by the customer service I received. The call did not last more than a minute. I was able to get through to a person quickly though, and I do appreciate that. I don't know if the woman on the phone was training, or if she did not have web experience. I don't even know if there was anything she could do. I felt rushed and as if I did not get the proper attention.
I have high expectations from Virgin America. First of all, I'm now a local. They're based here and I was hoping to get the most out of their rewards program. More importantly, I flew Virgin Atlantic years ago and loved it. I raved about it for years after and always said I couldn't wait to fly Virgin again. I was excited when Virgin America started, and even more excited when I actually had a reason to take one of their flights.
 
This flight better be good.

20 November 2008

I Used To Like Mitt Romney

I really did. I must have been thrown by his charm. He's against the auto bailout and therefore against America. If I get laid off because the automakers stop buying TV ads, I will be writing to Mitt and explaining. I will also write to all those people focused on private jets.
 
Although -- begging for money after getting off a private jet was a stupid idea.
 
Still, I watched a story on CNN explaining people in Detroit can't afford funerals. Bodies are stacking up at the morgue. That's today. People will be found frozen to death in their homes this winter if General Motors runs out of money.
 
I really don't get it. I don't understand how people can use rhetoric to deny help. Someone at my job told me Californians are against helping Detroit because they want a punishment for the lack of fuel efficient cars. Leave it to rich people (who think they're so socially aware and progressive) to boil it down to a slap on the wrist. I'm disappointed in my government and in my new home state.
 
Other than that, things are going well. I have a birthday party in Vegas this weekend. It's not for me, but you know how I love birthdays. We move when I get back -- or as soon as we get a bed. I have a lot to do before I leave, so I better get to it.

19 November 2008

Fight For Detroit

I've been thinking of composing an argument. It would be an argument so profound - deeply researched and strongly cited - that it would answer all rebuttals before they were submitted and bring the world to my side. The argument (had you not guessed) would be for federal aid to General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. But such an argument does not exist in my world. Gathering facts could consume me before I even started writing. This is my blog, and therefore only needs my opinion. So that's what you'll get.

Recently I wrote about what I see is the necessity of a bailout for American automakers. My idea was countered with some points that made me rethink my idea. In the end though, my opinion remains the same.

Yes, Detroit missed the call. They should have been building more fuel efficient vehicles in the 70's. There's nothing wrong with building vehicles for farmers and construction workers and other people who use large vehicles. But it's just bad business to ignore the parts of America that don't. The Big 3 did and yes, that brought them to where they are now - in part. It doesn't help that auto sales across the board are down more than 40%. It's not that people are buying hybrids. It's that people aren't buying at all.
Detroit was already playing catch up before the mortgage crisis caught the country with its collective pants down. In the best of financial situations, it would still be a struggle for them. What we're in now paints a much bleaker picture. Management can be blamed, as factory workers build what they're told to build. But leadership at two of the three has changed in the last two years. New people signed on and began implementing change. Those changes take time. We can't expect 30 years of mistakes to disappear in just two.

The auto industry is asking for a loan. I know I call it a bailout (because that's how I see it) but it's money that would be repaid. Without it, they'll go into bankruptcy, and so will their suppliers. The result will go far beyond managers learning a lesson. It will lead to starving families and homeless children. That's the reality I see. A government that will do nothing to prevent extreme poverty, won't do anything to stop it once it's rampant. This is not about saving face or reprimanding. It's about the people to which the government has a responsibility.

Part of that responsibility must include accountability. Congress should ask for guarantees. There should be deadlines and penalties for missed goals. No one should be getting a free ride.

But where does it end? I don't know. We shouldn't have passed the bailout in the first place. We should have let the economy plummet to looting and homeless children. That would have been the way to right the situation. But we didn't. We (and I feel like we all did it, as those fools were elected) passed this bill, gave $250 billion to banks that are still hoarding it, decided not to buy the bad debt, gave more to AIG, and stashed the rest. The bailout is already a disaster. The auto industry needs help. The money is there. It's not being given to homeowners who are upside down on their mortgages. Banks aren't using it to give credit. At least the auto industry can use it. It's my money as a taxpayer, and I demand it go to Detroit.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

16 November 2008

Lessons For Spectators

Jesse and I were determined to watch UFC 91, Couture vs Lesnar. We were also determined to make it as smooth and as cost effective as possible. We went to a place called The Dirty Martini for the last fight. It cost is $10 to get in and while there weren't drink specials, there was plenty of seating and the fight was on every screen. But The Dirty Martini is not in our neighborhood. It's not even close. So we looked for another bar Saturday, and still ended up back at the DM.

We found a nice looking bar near our place, but the cover was $20, and that didn't include any food or drinks. We're not the type to go to a sporting event and just sit there. We like to get in on the whole experience, with the eating, drinking, and yelling. Twenty dollars (we felt) was a mighty high starting point. Instead, we decided to go Hooters. We read they charged $5 and assumed it was because of all the food people buy. However Hooters is right across the street from the DM - as in not close. So we headed back up to Fisherman's Wharf.

We waited 30 minutes for a bus that's supposed to come every five. We saw one of the buses detach from its power lines. The driver was in the middle of a turn when it happened, and ended up blocking four lanes of traffic while he sorted it out. Once our bus came, it was extremely crowded, and remained so for the majority of our trip. We eventually did get to Hooters though, where we learned they were *not showing the fight, just delivering food to people at The Dirty Martini. With no other ideas and a half hour before the fight, we decided to pay the $10. But when we got there, the cover price had doubled. We spent $40 just to get in the door to see the fight. Typically we would have spent the same on Pay-Per-View, but we would have also had our own food and drinks. Three hours later we were entertained, but out of $130.

The fights were all really good. I enjoy watching what I call "hungry" athletes. When they want it, they really fight for it. I object to Brock Lesnar in the UFC, because I think he's setting a ridiculous bar. He weighs 300 pounds. Fighters shaped like regular human beings don't have a chance. I also wish he had a better standing game. How is it fair to fight someone 35 pounds smaller? I'm looking to Dana White and Lorenz Fertita to think about that. The Lesnar fight did bring in a lot of money though, so I doubt they will.

We walked by our new apartment on the way home. It's in the back of the building, so we didn't see it, but I took a picture of our street. It was very quiet for a Saturday night, minus the hum of the streetcar tracks. We walked the rest of the way to our current place thinking about design ideas and vacations. I'm looking forward to a cruise sometime in 2009. Jesse has some crazy idea about taking me to Thailand. Either way, adventure awaits.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry