Archive for November, 2006
It is like a bajillionty degrees in here today. We’ve complained. The building people are theoretically coming up today. I hope they come soon. Concentration is difficult in this sauna-like environment. It’s so warm, my cold-blooded ancestral instinct is to curl up and take a nice nap.
Even I, long-time proponent of room-temperature water, have resorted to refrigerated water to stay cool.
I’ve really liked the last three days of Sinfest. So much, in fact, that I’ve printed them out and stapled them to my cube-wall. My old next-cube-neighbor from my last job would be familiar with that practice. [Yes, I still have that "special" Penny Arcade. No, I don't have it hung up here. I think I may be subconsciously preserving it for future generations.]
I’m super-fascinated with today’s Wikipedia picture of the day. It’s the Orion Nebula, in super-ridiculous high-resolution. I’m seriously contemplating getting it professionally printed by a poster company and hanging it on the wall in the spare room / office / piano room.
I didn’t bring in a hair tie today so my hair is held off my neck with a rolled up twist of Scotch tape.
Cross your fingers and toes, the project I’ve been working on more or less since I started here is theoretically shipping tomorrow. When my group lead told the build guy that Tuesday’s build was RC1, I didn’t believe it. But the sky hasn’t fallen yet, so that’s good news.
Saturday is the Christmas Fair at church. I’ve not been nearly as involved as I was last year. In fact, I’ve basically been a Fair drop out. Luckily, Nancy is one of the nicest people on the planet and forgave my lack of communication in the recent weeks. I’ll be heading over there early Saturday morning. Maybe I’ll even bring some cookies for the baked goods table.
My personal trainer is having more surgery on her injured foot, so she had to cancel our appointment for today. That made me sad. I really need her motivational skills. I’m having a horrible time motivating myself. I’m no good at it. I’m barely holding steady here, and I really could use to drop some more weight. It can be done. It must be done. Oh man, I wish I could make it be done…
Did I mention that it’s hot in here?
Let me have a swig of my refrigerator-water.
Wait, this isn’t really that cold anymore. Should I get another?
Naw, that would require moving…
I would like to express my displeasure with the fact that Christmas is creeping up on me. I have no problems hearing carols over the radio at Au Bon Pain. I see no issue with the twinkly lights hanging from the posts and doors all around my neighborhood. I don’t even hold anger against those who have finished their Christmas shopping in advance.
I’m not ready.
I haven’t assigned my Christmas carols to my iPod. I haven’t got a tree. I haven’t started Christmas cards*, and I moved this year so I should be doing those early.
However, yesterday was a Christmas-friendly day. I finished shopping for one person on my list. We bought pretty wrapping paper and ribbons and bows. I hung lights off of our posts out front of our apartment. We even went to get outdoor extension cords so that our house won’t burn down.
So, I guess I’m approaching the state of ready to be ready.
I wonder when I’ll actually do the shopping.
At least I know that part of the week after Christmas will be spent on snow-covered slopes.
Have I mentioned that I’m excited about snowboarding? If not, I should. I should very often.
*Hello friends. I keep meaning to be one of those people who actually sends cards to their friends and not just family. Encourage this behavior. Email me your snail-mail address. Yes, even if you think I know it. I don’t. Trust me.
I had one hell of an interesting experience on Saturday.
When we were growing up, my dad always sung the UConn fight song to my sister and I. Usually during bath time. But anyway, as a result, I have the damn thing memorized. And that came in quite handy at the new stadium the other day.
Sa got Mike and I tickets to the UConn vs. Cincinnati game. It was quite the adventure. She was mostly interested in getting us to come with to the pre-game parking-lot tail-gating bash. Apparently, all of the ex-band members get together and have a themed tail-gate for every game. There was a Mexican day, which comes up in conversation from time to time as being a very drunk day for my sister. But this week was apparently Thanksgiving. Someone brought an entire turkey. It all went.
We, of course, did not get the theme memo until after we’d hit the grocery store on Friday. We just went for some standards and got a couple different kinds of sausages and rolls to put them in. We also picked up a six-pack of girly beers and a twelve-pack of Coors Light.
We arrived in the grassy muddy lot at around 9:30. In the morning. Yes, we did intend to eat sausage and drink beer that early. We joined up with Sa’s group, and trust me, we were not the morningest of morning people among them. There were definitely some people already half drunk, and the turkey was almost completely picked apart. The next car over had a beirut table set up behind it, and games were definitely in session (though I did hear one guy claiming to be too old for early games).
At first, I have to say, it was terrifying for me. My sister’s roommate wasn’t there, and her closer friends seemed to be hidden (though one of us had talked to her on the phone only minutes before). I finally caved and took out a girly beer. (In case you care, we chose raspberry non-beer-beer.) Soon, two things happened. My anxiety calmed, and Sa found Phil.
Phil was definitely the captain of the tail-gate party. He owned the grill. He manned the table. People asked him if they could have a beer (in that case mostly because he was sitting on the cooler…). He was also a pretty nice guy, and very accommodating to our theme-free additions. In fact, he was particularly impressed by Mike’s choice of cheese filled sausage. Many people were, in fact, and the entire package was eaten rather quickly. The kielbasa didn’t take that much longer to get scarfed down either.
As I was finishing up my kielbasa (something about cheese in a sausage feels… wrong… to me), my sister asked me an unusual question. My answer was a skeptical yes, and soon we were both holding cranberry-jello shots. Oh the craziness of it. The girl who made it was very nice to me and gave me a vague approximation of the recipe. Two cans of cranberry sauce, two packets of cranberry jello, orange rum, orange juice, and vodka (amounts unknown, but probably enough to total the required liquid for the jello). Let me tell you, it was quite delicious.
Soon, it was time to pack up. We trodded our chairs and water back to the car, after donating the rest of the “silver bullets” to the college kids. My sister and I were finishing up the last two girly beers as we walked from her car (which, by the way, needs new brake pads NOW) to the stadium. We gulped down the last drops as we got to the kind police officer directing traffic. Across the street and in.
We had to go in through separate gates, as my sister is still a student. We passed each other in our attempts to meet in the middle, but cell phones eventually sorted that out. Bathrooms were visited, and our seats were claimed.
See, my sister had no intention of letting us go off to the middle of nowhere to watch the game from the last row. Apparently, no one gives a rat’s ass whether or not the students are the ones sitting in the student seats. The student seating area is all open seating, and apparently all of the alumni hanging out at that tail-gate all just squeeze right in with the rest of the crazy students.
Behind the saxophone section.
Oh, right, I forgot to mention, we were sitting right next to the band. My sister is in her fifth year of a five-year program as a string-centric music education major. Her freshman year, she was a member of the color guard, just like she was in high school. But apparently those girls annoyed her (she has a shorter fuse than I do), so she decided to pick up a marching instrument. She told me the other day that she picked the baritone horn because it was a C-tuned instrument that wasn’t a trombone or a flute. The trombone frightened her and she apparently has a mental block that prevents her from changing the pitch on a flute.
Anyway, throughout the game, my sister ran off to visit and hug various people. Mostly boys. I’ll get over that eventually. She introduced me to her accompanist, who apparently also plays xylophone in the band pit. And somewhere shortly after that introduction, my sister caught a T-shirt that was shot out of some kind of slingshot or something (I didn’t actually see it fired, I just saw her arm snatch it out of the sky).
Eventually, the game itself began. UConn didn’t look so bad at first. They had a good opening drive, and scored and everything. Also, during that drive, I came to understand a couple things about marching band that I never knew before. They are not allowed to sit throughout the game, unless a player is injured. They play some kind of something after almost every play. And, even though there were dedicated people with this job description, they really were the cheer leaders. It was loud.
I liked it.
There was a complex set of rules as to who picks what is played or chanted and for how long. Some guy on a headset was in charge of making sure no rules were broken. The drum line occasionally started up a chant on their own. But mostly, it was the drum major, making peculiar hand signals for short cheers and writing song titles on a white board for the long ones, who got to make the decisions. Even when the band started chanting for their favorite song, the drum major did not give in. He just appended his response to their subordination to the bottom of the white board. Much to wide disappointment, there would be no “Carry On my Wayward Son” that day.
We watched the half-time show from up where my parents’ season tickets are. My dad is a member of the alumni society, so they have tickets around the 45 yard line, and also get a catered meal before every game. My sister is definitely band-people. The half-time show seemed more important to her than the game. Also, she was in shock that the Huskies were winning after two well-played quarters.
We got some snacks on our way back to our seats… I mean… locations where we stood to watch the game. The cheering and chanting resumed. The most amusing one was the red-zone cheer: “Stick it in, stick it in, stick it in!”
The game was going so well… until the Huskies missed a point after, allowed Cincinnati to tie the game, fumbled, and let them win. Apparently, this is not abnormal. My sister claims that she was more upset in the first half because she knew that the winning attitude would only make the eventual downfall that more painful.
After the game, we did something I did not expect. We climbed up to the second tier at the fifty yard line, and watched all three of the season’s half-time shows strung together. Band people. You know, if I’d have gone to a high school or college with a marching band, I can almost see myself as one of them. But as someone who’s never marched holding an instrument or flag, it is a little foreign to me. After the show was over, the students on the field and the alumni (and my sister who quit band this year because it doesn’t fit in her schedule) all joined together, arm in arm, to sing the alma matter. Oh how cute.
My anxiety was returning, but that’s okay, because we were about to be on our way home.
My brain is still today singing, “Connecticut UConn Huskies, symbol of might to the foe…”
… or …
A Brief Tale of My Stupidity
… or …
Why God is Awesome
So, put yourself with me. It’s Friday. The show you’ve been working on for months is opening tonight. You’re excited, but you know there is a list of things to do before you can get to your 6:30 call. So, knowing that time is limited, you take the 4:25. You’ve never taken the 4:25, but you know, it stops at your stop, and you’ll be home soon.
While you’re on the train, you do what you always do. Gnarls Barkley is blaring in the confines of your headphones. Tetriminoes gracefully float down the screen of your DS under your control. The world streams by you with only a very small amount of your attention spent on it.
Then you look up. A car dealership? You’ve never seen a car dealership on your route home before. Is that…? Is that a lake?
And it finally occurs to you. You’re in Wakefield.
Allow me to spend a couple seconds explaining the Reading-Haverhill line. The first stop is Malden Center – which is also on the orange line. After that, there are three stops in Melrose, two in Wakefield, and then the one in Reading. I have no idea what comes after that, and I don’t care. Normally, I take the 4:49 or the 5:30. Both of these stop at every stop along the route. But the 4:25 is special. It skips a few stops in an attempt to get up past Reading faster. Well, apparently the part of my attention that I spend on the outside world is only devoted to counting stops, not actually listening to or observing their names.
So, here you are, in Wakefield (as you’ve just confirmed it with the conductor), wondering what the hell you are going to do. You carry the schedule with you at all times, so while standing up in the moving train, you look at the inbound schedule. There must be an inbound train sometime soon, right?
The next inbound train doesn’t hit Wakefield until 5:36, putting you in Melrose at 5:40, at home around 6:00, and late to call by at least a half hour. Well, I suppose you could decide to be on time, but if you did, you wouldn’t get to eat dinner and your costume would be wrinkled.
As a bonus, you really have to pee.
When you get off at Wakefield, you look around. It is a familiar area. You’ve been here before. You know your boyfriend drives by here every single day. Of course, he’s out drinking with his buddies from work and doesn’t answer his phone. He wasn’t your first call, however. That was to your stage manager. You really wanted her to calm you down (or maybe even be in the area and able to pick you up), but she doesn’t answer her phone.
After walking along the inbound platform, you decide there must be another way. You find a bus stop sign. The bus that goes by here does head toward Malden. You could either get off and walk a ways when it gets to Melrose, or you could take it all the way to Malden Center, hop on the orange line one stop to Oak Grove, and switch to the bus that goes by the place where your car is.
If only Haley had taken some lessons with KITT.
Since you have no idea when any bus will come by, you decide you must get in touch with someone who has access to the internet. You call your sister. The connection drops. You call her again. She isn’t near a computer, but she can get to one. She’ll call you back.
What’s that? Does that say “Taxi?” As in, God-send?
But alas, while the car does say “Taxi” it also says “Woburn.” As the couple in the back seat struggle with their cash, you waffle. Is it really worth asking? I mean, why embarrass yourself more. But something keeps your cool, and you approach the car.
“I know you’re from Woburn, but would you take a fare to Melrose?”
“Melrose? Uh… I’ll have to call that in.”
He does, and lucky for you, he has no one waiting for him back in Woburn. Your cell phone rings. You tell him to ignore it. It rings again. You answer, tell your sister to wait and that you’ll call her back.
You spend the rest of the ride to your car, the ride in your car, and the time you spend ironing your costume thanking God for the miracle cab. Without it, you were hosed. With it, you get to your car before the 4:49 would have dropped you there, and you just make it in time for call.
Thank you, God.
I think I met the next generation’s serial rapist last night.
Due to some craziness in the morning, I was without iPod, without headphones, and without DS yesterday. I wasn’t sure how I would survive that alone, but it didn’t kill me. I did manage to grab a Metro in North Station that morning, after suffering through a silent and boring train ride from Melrose. So it was that which was in my hands as I got on board the North Station bound green line train.
It wasn’t too crowded, for whatever reason. Probably the train in front of it was a sardine can. I hate sardine cans. I’m glad I didn’t end up in one. Anyway, it wasn’t particularly crowded, so after Park St., I got to sit. I sat on the outside of a two-seat row (these were not the bombardiers). At Government Center, whoever it was that I was sitting next to (I honestly don’t remember a thing about them) got up, and I scooted in. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Make room for the next people.
The seat I was in was the second double-seat row in the car. In front of me was the first double seat which faces the sideways facing seat. At this point, all three of those seats were empty. And when that happens, one can bet that most of the seats were empty. Like I said, not particularly crowded.
So why did this late-teens creep sit right down next to me?
When I sit next to someone, I tilt my body slightly away. I make an effort to give the person next to me as much personal space as humanly possible. This guy, he put his left arm on the bar on the seat in front of me. In front of me. I tweaked, but hoped that he was just retarded in some way. I furiously worked on my Sudoku.
Then I felt his hand – his actual hand – touch my side. Nothing rated R or anything, but definitely inappropriate. Without looking up from my newspaper, I elbowed him. His right hand retracted, but the left stayed firmly on the bar.
He did not get off at Haymarket.
I don’t want to think of what would have happened had this been a Lechemere train. If he didn’t have to get up. But he did get up, and he walked out of the train. I stayed back for as long as I could and then followed out to the platform. My brain tried to blow it off. It couldn’t have been what I thought it was. I must have been over-dramatizing.
“Man, I thought you had a new boyfriend there.”
A distinguished looking older gentlemen was walking across to the orange line. I shivered, finally realizing that (a) it really did happen and (b) there was probably someone on the train who would have helped me if I needed it.
“Yeah, that was the creepiest thing I’ve ever experienced.”
He took off down the stairs to the orange line while I headed over to the train station. I got a good seat on the train for the ride home. I tried to do the crossword for a while, but got bored of that and kind of dozed off between station calls. I didn’t miss my stop yesterday. I’ll tell that story later.
I didn’t get home until well after midnight. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was after 1 AM. So, let’s just assume I got into bed around 1:30. I was tired. I was drunk. But the bed was warm, and I was fast asleep in moments.
And, it seemed like only moments later, Mike’s alarm was going off. I squinted at the clock, made grumbley annoyed noises, and rolled over, but didn’t fall back to sleep. I got up shortly after him, and got dressed. I wore a sweater and jeans, along with some nice wool socks, thinking that would be sufficient to keep me warm.
We packed up a bit of food and water, grabbed some chairs, and were out the door at 5:45. The sun was still asleep. I like the sun. I missed the sun.
First stop: Target. The internet had told Mike that there were supposed to be around 50 of them there. We did a quick count of the people in line and thought we’d be pushing our luck, so we drove across the street.
Second stop: Circuit City. It looked promising, but Mike wanted to check out some other locations to see what the options might be.
Third stop: Sears. Six guys told us that they’d talked to the manager and there were only six. Oh well. Moving on.
Fourth stop: Best Buy. We didn’t even park the car. The line looked ridiculous. It extended just to the entrance to the Gold’s Gym.
Fifth stop: K-Mart. Four dick-headed guys made fun of us while also saying the store only had four. Hate beams shot out of our eyes, but we moved on.
Sixth stop: Back to Circuit City.
We parked the car, took our stuff, and set up our chairs. There was a tent and some people sleeping on folding chairs up towards the front of the line. There were unprepared people in front of us just standing around. They had gotten there just before us. We probably would have beaten some of them if we’d just gone straight there, but who knows.
After a short while, a bearded guy sat on the pavement next to us. Then, the kids from the front of the line, two of them in giant black parkas, tried to sell us their place in line. Mike told them to go away. They assured us that we weren’t going to get one, but we stuck with our hopefulness.
As time went by, we took turns trying to get a count of the people in front of us. There was a sign on the door that said there’d only be 18. We were about 23rd in line, counting ever body. But word was some of them were just keeping the real buyers company. So we kept hope.
We kept hope as a moron drove by and tried to sell us a coupon he was pretending was a ticket for K-Mart. We kept hope as a moron drove by and asked seventybillion times what we were waiting around for. We kept hope as we watched Target hand out tickets around 7:00.
The dejected from across the street came to join our line shortly after. I talked to a guy who said he’d gotten there around 6:00 and was about 5 people away from getting one. We totally would have been on the cusp if we’d stopped at Target. We might have gotten one, we might not.
It was around 7:30 or so when the manager came out to tell us for sure that there were only 18. He also told us that they wouldn’t be handing out tickets. We were all stunned. It was definitely in his best interest to hand out 18 slips of paper and send the rest of us on our merry way. But that’s what he said.
The counting resumed in earnest. The people directly in front of us did a pretty accurate count and decided that they had no chance. It was a mom and son, he was about 14. They moped over to their car and went home.
At the same time, the people in front of them, a husband and wife making a half-assed attempt to surprise their kids (who had doubtlessly woken up and “wondered” where Mom and Dad both went) got worried that they would fail. So she took the car and went off in search elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the line got longer and longer. Word had it that Best Buy had handed out tickets. They ran out of tickets just at the Gold’s Gym door. We would have been on the cusp there as well.
Counts now had us at actual 21 and 22, with two people vocally saying they weren’t going to buy one. Rumors of a third abounded, but as in anything there was no guarantee. The black parka kids came by and told us that we would be 18. Hope. Stupid hope, but hope all the same.
Two completely different vehicles pulled into the lot around the same time. One of them carried a giant sign for a new Dollar Tree store opening up next door, and the other was the tell-tale black and white of the town police.
The officer went into the store and talked to the manager. He came out and gave us all a pep talk. He reminded us that there were only 18. He told us that we’d better all behave. He told us he didn’t want to take anyone away. We asked him to tell that to the people in the back of the line. He did. I felt better.
Because up to this point, it hadn’t occurred to me that someone might trample me. But recently people had been talking about horrible bad things that the people in the back of the line might do when they open the door. The sight of the police officer really made me feel better.
It was cold. By this point, I couldn’t so much feel my toes. But the line kept “moving” in that way that happens with traffic on the highway when the road it closed up ahead. I ate a few crackers. Mike had a fruit leather. We shivered.
Then came the greatest call ever. The guy in front of us received a call from his wife. We heard his half of the conversation.
“Where are you? … Cosco? … They have 44? … You got what? … A ticket? … You were number 44? … Does that mean I can go home? … What’s in the bundle? … Who cares. We can sell the game we don’t want on eBay. You can really buy it? … Buy it. I want to go home.”
I told the man that I loved his wife. He hung up, wished us luck, and took off to his warm lovely car.
Warmth would be nice. I was pretty cranky about being cold, tired, and hungover.
We were now 20th in line for 18, where two people had vocally said they weren’t buying one. With the rumor still going of a third, we told the bearded guy behind us that he might just get one. We rolled our eyes at the people behind him, who stretched on into about 40 or 50 people.
The count down really started at 9:00. It was under an hour to wait, and we were all anxious. Minutes ticked by rather slowly, but they continued to move. If only it had been warmer, we could have played DS, but our fingers would hardly dislodge themselves from their pockets. So we just stood and waited.
The police cruiser came back with a friend at about quarter of. They stopped their cars out a ways, I think to give us space and not make anything worse. They really did a great job.
And finally, we saw the manager and his lackey emerge from the store. They were carrying something. Blue slips. Could it be? Tickets! Really? Awesome! No trampling for us! I think the cops probably talked them into printing out something just to make things go a little smoother. As people took their tickets and a sheet of coupons, I started to get jittery. Three left. Two left. You’re handing that to me?! YAY! Thank you!
I turned to our bearded friend to apologize. The manager screamed out that anyone who couldn’t pay would be not be allowed to put it on layaway, so the next few people in line might want to wait to see if they could get it for real. So instead of apologizing, I wished him luck. The opened the doors shortly afterward, and let in people with the blue tickets. It seemed so Willy Wonka, if only the tickets had been gold.
Mike ganked the ticket out of my hand (I didn’t have my wallet with me anyway, I’d put my bag in the car once we stopped sitting), handed me his car keys, and was the last one admitted into the store. I stood outside with the other ladies who had rejected a ticket so that we could get one. I blame it on a frozen brain, but it didn’t immediately occur to me that I could go sit in the car and turn on the heat. When lightening did strike my brain and wake it up, I ran for the car and put the heat on super high. I shivered and started to warm up.
Mike called my cell, which was somewhere in the trunk at this point. I found it and he said I could come inside now. So I did, and met him waiting in line to pay. They kept everything behind the counter, and had a matching ticket taped to the side of each box. We got Zelda, we got the truck racing game, and we got Tony Hawk. We got an extra set of controllers and asked for some things they didn’t have. No classic controllers. No component cables. Oh well. We can live in low-def for now.
On the way home, we stopped for hot chocolate at Dunks. Home was lovely and warm.
Man, were we lucky. We could have been on the cusp at any of three stores, but the idiot manager at Circuit City and his reluctance to hand out tickets really worked to our advantage. We could have been 19 out of 18, or even 20. But when we got home, we didn’t head for naps and pouting. We ripped apart packaging, hooked up cables, and challenged each other to a game of tennis before moving on to bowling, golf, and truck racing.
And that, my friends, is the story of how we got the last Wii in town.