Procrastination (But I Digress)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Caitlyn's New Dress

Sally got Caitlyn a very pretty dress from the disney store. The disney store conveniently sells tights and little dress shoes right by the dress and Sally got those as well. The dress looked way too long in the box to fit her, but when she wore it at her birthday party and it fit perfectly. The little dress shoes were not click, clicks like we thought they would be, but nice, sturdy shoes with non-slip bottoms. Perfect. Caitlyn for some reason kept her legs straight while walking in those shoes and stomped like a tin soldier all over the room. She was very taken with walking in those shoes. I was a little disappointed that there were no great smile pictures at her party, but there was one where she was in front of the screen door and you can see her whole outfit. Ris gave Sally a copy of that picture as a thank you and Peter printed out a larger version on his color printer. It is so precious that last night I made him print me one. I love that picture, even though there's no big smile and she looks like she needs a nap--she's just that cute.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Happiest Place on Earth on Busiest Day of Year

That's right, I went to Disneyland on the day after Thanksgiving. What were all those kids doing there anyway--isn't that Friday the biggest cartoon day of the year. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were handed a flyer that told us this was a high volume day and gave us some tips. Use fast pass (we got there at 11 a.m. and the fast pass time for Pirates was already 3:30 in the afternoon), don't watch the fireworks from main street and don't leave right after the fireworks--everyone else is too.

Luckily Barb and I had just a few things that we really wanted to do and we got a deal on the park hopper, so we could also go over to California Adventures (much less crowded over there). Barb really wanted to go to the Haunted House and it was completely different for Christmas, so that was very cool. I wanted to go to Small World, because it was closed last summer and it was also completely different for Christmas and also very cool. We had to go to the Tiki room, just because it is a staple and easy to get into. At California Adventure I insisted that we go on the Soar over California and it was just as fab as I remembered. Barb wasn't a roller coaster person, but I wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel. As we stood in line (a really long time) we saw some of the cars rocking uncontrollably and Barb was leary. So was I, but I kept it hidden. When we got to the front, two older women were leaving the car we were getting into and I said, if they can do it, so can we. Barb got a big laugh out of that. I'm in my late forties and she's in her fifties, we're at disneyland, but there are older ladies than us on the crazy ferris wheel. We didn't have a teenager in the car, so it really didn't rock all that much. It was very fun.

Afterwards, I wanted to try to get Barb to pick a place to eat, because I didn't want to limit her with my limited palate. Finally I convinced her that I really wanted to go to the Wine Tasting Italian place. There were three dishes with chicken in them. Something called a Pineta or a word about that long that starts with a "p" When I saw the word "pressed", I figured I better steer clear. Then there was a chicken salad, but the chicken lasagna caught my eye. I like lasagna sort of and I can always pick the chicken out. So I went on and on about the chicken lasagna sounding good and how I like lasagna sort of and I can always pick the chicken out. Somehow I must have gushed enough for Barb to realize I thought it would be in a tomato sause, because she said, you know Alfrado is a white sause? NO I DID NOT! Tragedy averted--I had the chicken salad--It is very easy to pick chicken out of lettuce.

I was trying to talk Barb into Space Mountain--I simply had to go on Space Mountain, but she was reluctant to say the least. I knew she wanted to see the parade, so I made out way back to small world to get a good view. I had no interest in the parade, so I said, you watch the parade and I'll go on Space Mountain--single riders can sometimes go to the front of the line and get on quicker. It was a great plan. So she found a seat on the parade route--we exchanged cell phone numbers and I went to get in line at Space Mountain. It was about 5:45 and the parade started at 6:30. There was no more fast pass and the wait time listed for Space Mountain was 65 minutes. It was cutting it close, but I really wanted to go on Space Mountain. The line was really, really long. The first thing I realized is that there was no cell phone reception. OK. After I was in line for about 10 minutes, a disney rep came out and said the ride was closed--they didn't know if it would be a few minutes or a few hours--we could stay in line, but no promises. I figured, I'd never make it back to the parade route in the crush of people, so I might as well stay where I was. Over the next 15 minutes about 100 people left the line. It barely made a dent. About 15 minutes later, the line started to really move--I mean constant movement--not eight people get on the ride at a time movement--this ride is closed, we're letting you out the back door kind of movement. That went on for some time and then I was close to the building (for the inside line), now the line started moving to the slower, eight people on the ride at a time kind of movement. I couldn't believe my luck. The wait in the building was really long and 6:30 passed and I still had no phone reception--but there was no way I was leaving space mountain. I finally got on the ride and it was really great--the sound effects and the ride make the perfect roller coaster. When I got off, I raced over to small world and caught a glimpse of santa--I had just made the end of the parade. As I picked Barb out of the crowd where I left her, I saw her pull out her cell phone. Was that great timing or what.

Now it was time to shop. It was black friday afterall--I didn't get up at 6 a.m., but that doesn't mean I didn't want to shop. We were having Caitlyn's first birthday party the following day and Disneyland has a huge assortment of princess stuff. That baby loves princess stuff. I started picking up things left and right. Barb said are you really going to buy all that stuff and I said, well I'll pare it down to just a few things--I mean I have to get this princess hat and I looked at the tag. $28 for a cheap pointie pink princess hat that the kid is going to put in her mouth and then give to the dog. I put everything back and became much more discriminating. She got a tee shirt, small baseball cap (with no glitter) and a little plastic princess purse. That last thing was really an impulse buy, but it was so darn cute.

We decided to leave before the fireworks to beat the crowd, but we did stop at the final gift shop and I went a little crazy buying a few more little things (which came in handy at Caitlyn's birthday party for the other little kids at the party). When we went out the front of Disneyland I remembered that California Adventures was on our right when we arrived, so of course we turned in the wrong direction and got on the wrong tram. It took a long time to get to our car, but as we got on the freeway, we saw the fireworks in the rear view mirror--were we lucky or what!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mad and Worried

I'm mad. The news reported that the president said he had not "made up his mind" as to whether to send more troops or call them home. Made up his mind--what a cavalier and ridiculous way to refer to people's lives on the line. He's not sure, maybe if he likes his new haircut... Then the news said that he was in Indonesia and that there were large protests with people chanting death to him. That's a freaky scary part of the world to be in if you are this president--he could get killed. I have great respect for our secret service, but what a bad idea to be there of all places on the planet. What, all of a sudden he doesn't like his comfy ranch anymore where the only threat is the mother of a fallen soilder--I'm thinking they are a whole lot less scary than radicals in Indonesia--not too many suicide bombers in that crowd. Come home pres--you have important decisions to make. Set a policy that people can get behind and let's get things done. Maybe Nancy can give you the name of her psychic--don't tell the media you called--our troops don't want to know how you decide--they just want to know what they are supposed to do, so they can do it and come home.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Standard of Living

That is a term of art in law. Its definition during a marrage sets the amount of alimony in a divorce action. I just finished preparing for trial on the issue, and so that must be why the term was so on my mind this morning--when I was immediately aware of my humm as I am every night before sleeping and every moring when I awake. The humm in my room is insideous. I do not know who to pay to do something about it and moving seems extreme. I am apparently the only person who can hear it, but since I only hear it in that room--I'm fairly confident that I'm not crazy. Yet. What if that humm is the drop of water, dripping and dripping day in and day out that evetually erodes my sanity. Now moving doesn't sound so crazy--ok, it still sounds crazy. Maybe the erosion is already farther along than I thought.

A little later I found a cricket in my tub. This is a common event--I find a cricket in my tub, I kill it, clean up the corpse and the next day he's back. Sometimes he brings a friend. I kill them both and the routine continues. I was reminded of that commercial with the Budist who blows his nose and the commentator says he's killed millions of germs--the Budist is horrified. If I had a nickle for every cricket I've killed, well, I'd be one rich mass cricket murderer.

I try to tell myself that it could be much worse--I could be homeless (unlikely), I could live in a noisy building (I have before--the horror), there could be lots worse critters than crickets (I don't what to think about the spiders that I know reside with me), but that humm and those smushy crickets make me question my standard of living. Law school was really hard work--preparing for trial is no walk in the park--what's the payoff if I live with insideous noise and crickets in the tub?

Caitlyn's laugh. If you haven't gone to Caitlyn's blog and heard her laugh, well I don't know how you get up every morning.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sign of the Times or vise versa

All the signs outside my window are red. What is it about a red sign that will make you look? A study was done that showed, yellow was easier to see in the dark and through smoke. Glendale changed all its fire engines to yellow (as did many Cities). The old time firemen were angry--they liked the red ones. Eventually, the fire chief was replaced and the new fire chief has brought back the red fire engines. Why? Seems like safety should win out over sentiment.

Glendale has a big thing about billboards and signs. They just don't allow them. You can tell where the border for LA is, because there's a bunch of billboards. Glendale did allow Chanel 7 to put up a very large, very bright video sign next to the Freeway. You can't really see it from anywhere else, because their office building is nestled in next to the freeways on the other side of the railroad tracks. On the other hand, the car dealers have been lobbying for signs next to the freeways for years, to no avail.

And finally, I just finished the flyer for tour of homes (a fundraisor for PTA). I took the flyer into the printer to have signs made up from it for the store fronts around town. He said they would be ready today--I was estatic. I forgot to leave work early to go get them. I was so happy that they would be done today, I marked it off my to do list and promptly forgot to pick them up. No time for signs.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Think Outside the Box (caveat, wake up first)

This morning I awoke to an Iraqi commentator on NPR discussing a possible solution to the War in Iraq. It is not less troops they need, but more to ensure security. But they don't want Americans, the commentator said they'd really rather have Japanese. They had troops from Japan in the south and no shots were ever fired. The Japanese it seems had more credibility and so the Iraqis had no problem with them.

I hit the snooze button and I started to think. Let's kill two birds with one stone. Japan has no interest in sending troops to Iraq--what's in it for them. We need a country of people who need the money, but who have no political sides. To our south, we have all these people who take great risks to come to the US--they travel through the desert to get here and overcome great hardship. It's desert conditions in Iraq--great hardships--a solution is emerging. Rather than deport the illegal immigrants that get in, we should offer them a four year stint in the army in Iraq. They'll work for minimum wage and as a bonus if they finish their tour, we'll let them apply to be citizens. If we don't have room for veterans in our country, that's really bad. Of course, we'd probably have to give them a gun--that could be problematic. There's a story in the Witzel family lore that a great uncle (my grandmother's great uncle or great, great uncle) in France on the farm traveled a long distance to get hired on with the Russian army--got his free gun and pair of boots and then disserted right away.

It sounded so much better when I was half asleep.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Turn it off and on

It's a computer--of course that's how you fix it...

So yesterday, I worked as an Inspector at the elections. Our precinct was supposed to have five people working. At the last election we had only three (and that was a primary where we had five different ballots). So I called all the other people and one said she couldn't come, so I asked Adrienne. Adrienne was happy to be my fifth, but then she got sick and I was back to four (but at least I didn't get sick).

This year we had a supervisor who appeared to be a volunteer (like us, probably paid a stipend for the day) from the county who was "in charge" of five precincts. She hung around to see how we were doing and to write down when we took breaks. She wasn't much help, but she did have extra signs in her box, so that helped a little.

Also this year we had a ballot "reader". It was a big, heavy computer that sat on top of the ballot box. The voter placed their ballot in the "reader" and if they voted twice for the same measure (yes and no) or for more than one candidate for one office, then it would spit the ballot back out and the voter would have to try again. As I am writing this I have this image of a midget in the box, looking at each ballot and popping it back out if it was wrong. This year the midget was nonpartisan--who knows about next year.

Anyway, all day we had to yell at voters not to put their ballot in the box until after we took their receipt off. Once the "reader" accepts it, we can't get it back. Late in the day, a voter put their receipt in the "reader" and it spit it back out. Good news, right. NOT. (That's a joke from Borak--man, that was a funny movie--disgusting as anything ever thought of by human beings, but funny).

After the "reader" spit out the receipt, it said reader offline. The book said to hit "override" if the reader was offline. We did and nothing happened. So we hit "help" and it gave us a general description of how to plug the reader into the wall. There was a button to push for Voting Closed, but I didn't want to go there. So now we had a line of about three voters and I said, you can put your ballot in the box without the reader "checking" it for errors, or you can wait. They all agreed to wait. I called my "supervisor" and she sounded pretty clueless, but said she'd be right over. Then I called the 800 number. I got a recording wanting to know my address, so they could tell me where to vote. Big help. Then I found a local number and after a little bit of button pushing I got a live person.

He said, what's the problem. I told him the ballot reader was offline and the override button did not work. He said, your audio voter is not working? No I told him, the ballot reader is offline. I told him about the receipt that was put in in error and how it spit it out and now the overide button did not work.

"Is the "reader" plugged in?" He asked. "Yes" I said very patiently. "Have you used the orange cord to plug the "reader" into the wall?" He asked. "Yes. Why are you asking me these questions--" and I explained the entire problem again. "Is the "reader" turned on?" He asked. "Yes" I said a lot less patiently. "I have to ask these questions" the guy said. He obviously had a script. Now there were about eight voters waiting to cast their ballots and another six at the booths and another three or four waiting for a booth to open. That's a lot of people in our little polling place.

We went through his script, the reader was turned on, I had used the Inspector header card, the paper was not jammed, the power source was working, etc., etc. and then he put me on hold. While I was on hold, my "supervisor" arrived. She looked frightened and completely without knowledge. I let her off the hook and told her I had called the county office. Finally a person who knew what they were talking about came on the line. Turn the machine on and off, he said. Are you sure, I said. Yes, he said. I did. He said, it will take about five minutes for it to warm up and he would stay on the line to make sure it worked after that.

I explained to the ten or so people now waiting that the reader was designed to detect voter error. If they felt confident that they had not overvoted or made any errors, they could put their ballot in the box without going through the reader--before I could say anything else we had a stampede of voters putting their ballots in manually.

Needless to say, it worked and all was right with the world once again. [Except that now that I have mentioned the Borak movie I have the little bit of the image that I wasn't fast enough to close my eyes for of the naked guys fighting. Yuck!]

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Poetry on a budget

I awoke this morning to lyrics from a Brazilian singer who was interviewed on NPR. 'I search for science in vague places, hundreds of muscles make my face smile in response to a breeze over a distant sea' or something to that effect. The commentator said that was very complex compared to her other songs, but the singer said, no, it's very simple really. It spoke to me. I'm very casual about science--I know some and amuse myself with thinking about systems, but I'm just as easily distracted by a breeze. Very poetic. I should read more poetry.

Today my class met at my office, except there was no cell phone reception and the kids couldn't get a hold of me to let them in (my office is locked on the weekends). There was no phone service at all. Of course, we didn't have a back up plan--we just take phones for granted. But eventually they got in, only to ask if they were going to leave ten minutes early because they didn't get a break. NOT. I'm such a mean teacher.

My plate is once again full to overbrimming--I have the sees candy order for ABWA, the audit for ABWA, I need to arrange the Social, the Fashion Show reservations, Kiwanis major fundraisor reservations, PTSA, tour--I ordered the tickets, but I need to make up the flyer and brochure, Elections are Tuesday and my car is full of that stuff that I still need to check the big box in the hallway and then next week is the wrap up for the convention and I have those two huge baskets to get rid of and yesterday I got three cases of girl scout cookies--Yes, it's almost Girls Scout Cookie time. Marisa said that now that Caitlyn is older (a whole one year old now), that (yea!) she will help me with Girl Scout Cookies. I have three rushes, two appeals and a trial in less than two weeks. So much for time to read poetry.