Saturday, August 30, 2003
This summer sucked.
It rained for a month, seemed to hover around 70 degrees half the time, our pool wasn't ready until July, at which time I hurt my leg, and the sink is still not installed in the Montauk kitchen. When you find a contractor, make sure that they don't spend all their time giving quotes to the local paper complaining about people who move to the area looking for work. I'm guessing that once you go try and find someone to help you move a sink into the kitchen, no one will want to help, and it will sit in the back yard rusting for four or five months.
Today was, however, beautiful. I walked out on the jetty and took a photo of the beach in Montauk, which has never been as crowded as it was today (yet which still had lots of elbow room).
Friday, August 29, 2003
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Okay, I understand it’s a cheap shower radio. Like all shower radios, you can shake it and hear a small screw rattling around in it. It’s got a rounded bottom so you can’t actually stand it up on any surface. The tuning consists of a small dial with two settings: 530 and 1620. It takes all day to get the thing tuned to 1050 – all I know is that it’s somewhere between 530 and 1620. I hit the strongest station, 880, then go slooooowly to the next strong one, 1010. Then I have to do little microturns until I find the slight increase in static that indicates the advanced microcircuitry has locked onto 1050.
And then what happens? The “cleaning” “girl” shows up and retunes it. (“Cleaning” is in quotes because her routine consists of spraying Pet Formula Febreze on the carpets, putting a few drops of blue food coloring in the toilet, and disappearing with a Diet Sprite.) She goes into the bathroom with the bottle of blue dye, flicks the shower radio over to FM, and finds Snooze 106. The next morning, I turn the radio on and it’s giving me the opportunity to win tickets to see Tori Amos at Jones Beach. I just want to know whether I need to wear a bright yellow rain slicker in the morning; I don’t need the latest Ben Affleck news.
Oh, and the train station smells worse than San Francisco this morning. I’m beginning to think that the under-track tunnel actually secretes its own stale urine. Or maybe it’s on an ancient bat burial ground.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
It wasn’t one of those little sparrows, either. My estimate of the thing’s size kept increasing throughout the day – it was a crow, then a seagull, then finally an albatross. I’d ruined my car’s frame by backing over it. When I got home this afternoon, it turned out to be “probably a blue jay.” A couple of pigeons dressed as cops were just finishing drawing an outline around it in bird seed when they saw me and tried to arrest me. I managed to climb into my car and speed off, looking back only to see them both shrug and start to peck at the millet outline they’d been making.
And to top things off, a mouse chewed through the water line on the dishwasher. God, I hate vermin.
Monday, August 25, 2003
Today was my first day in our exciting, “beautiful” new offices. Coincidentally, it was also the first time in almost a month that I was actually able to walk from Penn Station. (The leg is nothing but a scab now.) Now, I’m a positive guy by nature, but there are a few problems with our new space.
- It’s not on any of the Penn Station subway lines, so I have to leave five minutes earlier to catch the same train.
- The offices are teensy.
- The cubicles are smaller. Just absurdly tiny (6x6), with low walls. Editors are supposed to work in this space? It’s more suitable for battery hens.
- The carpeting is already stained from the move.
- Half the space isn’t complete yet, so there’s all sorts of hustle and bustle going on.
- There’s no men’s room on our side of the hallway, but two on the other side.
- The toilets in the men’s room are about 6” off the floor.
- There’s no soap in the men’s room.
- Or the women’s room. So I'm told.
- There are no down lights above the elevators on our floor yet, just holes. So the elevator sneaks up without warning – no light, no ding.
- All the power outlets in the offices are clustered in one little block in the middle of one wall, so you can’t rearrange your furniture well.
- The “furniture” consists of two tables, called “workspaces” by people who don’t have to work on them.
- The “workspaces” are kidney-shaped or egg-shaped. Hey, here’s a miniscule office – how can we waste as much space as possible? Let’s use EGG-SHAPED furniture!
- Rounded furniture means that you can’t push it up against the wall and hold power cords in place. So when I unplug my laptop, the cord falls behind the table.
- The office has a floor-to-ceiling glass window. But most of it is frosted for “privacy,” meaning that I can’t actually shut out light, but I can’t let light in either.
- The conference room lights turn off every three minutes if no one in the meeting is assigned to wave their arms and activate the “someone’s waving their arms in the meeting” sensor.
- The fridges are shared with salespeople, so by noon everything that’s in there smells like sales.
- I somehow ended up with a French phone manual. I don’t know how to redirect my calls, but I do know that le crayon est sur la table.
- Everyone can hear everything, even with the door closed, so I can’t talk about coworkers on the phone anymore.
- Since everyone’s so close together and looking for quiet, I can’t listen to the radio as I work anymore.
- Which doesn’t matter anyway, because I have no reception in the new office.
On the bright side, it’s…uh…it’s…we have a good view of Radio City Music Hall out the window.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Sunday, August 17, 2003
The plane boarded on time, surprisingly enough. I was surrounded by 815 children. Small, small children. Two rows back, one of the small, small children started screaming uncontrollably because her mom went into the lavatory with a small, small sibling for half a minute. Mom got back, small, small child kept screaming. That set the other children in the back of the plane off, like neighborhood dogs howling at the moon.
Since this leg was scheduled to depart at 5:00 PM, it was scheduled for beverage service only. I now officially worship the Wolfgang Puck Express in O'Hare, because it saved me when we ended up sitting on the runway for two hours with a hold at LGA. I was right next to the flight attendant, and complained to her about the day I'd had. If you haven't learned this valuable lesson yet, it always helps: use the phrase "the hardest part has been keeping my cool and not taking it out on people like you and the gate attendants who have no control over the situation." Service jobs like that must be the worst thing on earth, thanks to America's "complain loudly until you get action" ethos.
Anyway, the calm yet annoyed voice worked, because the attendant actually offered to buy me a drink once we were in the air. WINK. She had some interesting stories about the post-9/11 atmosphere on the airlines. All kinds of stuff still gets through the gate checks. One guy walked onto a plane and started spreading cream cheese on a bagel with his box cutter! They regularly find box cutters and razors taped under seats on the planes when they do sweeps. She's had to report more than one passenger who took copious notes about the exact routines the flight attendants were performing - when they stood up, when they moved, the timing, everything. But it's her firm conviction that our air travel system is still being infiltrated and tested regularly by groups looking for weaknesses to launch another attack.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
I think someone just died at the airport. They just announced "Herb Jones, you have a call on extension 911, Herb Jones."
Today’s Sky Bistro meal is a mayo-soaked napkin. The gate map for O’Hare can be found on the page of the American Way magazine that a previous traveler ripped out and took with her. Today’s flying time will be annoying, no matter how long it takes. Today’s assclown is the AAdvantage reservations call-taker who boned me with the assurances of seat 4B. Your e-ticket record locator is SUXX0R. Today’s flight represents the last of a long relationship with TWA/AA. Delta, Continental, JetBlue, and United all fly to my most common destinations. As with all major products and services, I will now get angry at one company at a time until they’re all eliminated and I have to take Greyhound across country.
Today’s in-flight movie is “The Core,” a thriller about the core. Since the protagonists are on a dangerous mission, they have to keep taking attendance to make sure that they haven’t lost anyone.
“Rugged guy!” “Here.”
“Smart guy!” “Here.”
“Black guy!” “Here.”
Friday, August 15, 2003
Actually, I'm being a bit harsh to the poor Radisson. Let's see what they have to say about themselves.
Each beautiful Guest Room at Radisson Hotel Seattle comes well equipped with Data Ports and Voice Mail for those that need to stay in touch... even Coffee/Tea Makers & In-Room Movies for extra convenience. Then to better understand the meaning of ` Radisson Service `, include: USA Today, Hairdryer and Work Desk.It's even better than it sounds, believe it or not.
I checked AA.com, and they finally had the previous night’s flight listed as cancelled. (Unlike at 11 PM the night before. Great job updating that status!) I was going to be sort of pissed if it had made it out. Then I checked my morning flight, and what do you know! It was also cancelled. I’m still awaiting the flight status email. I’m sure it’s just delayed in cyberspace.
I called American to figure out how the hell I was getting home. They put me on hold for about 45 minutes. My plan at this point was to just get to the northeast – NYC, Hartford, DC, Boston, Philly – and then get home somehow. They had one flight getting to LGA, but by the time they tried to book the first segment, it had been oversold. My original red-eye was overbooked for Friday night. The flights to Boston were overbooked, but they could send me to Dallas at 10 PM, then fly me out to Boston at 6 AM. We went through every permutation, until we finally found a Saturday morning flight to LGA ‘connecting in Chicago again.
By now I was happy to get anything out of Seattle. But it was my duty to ask about my first-class upgrade anyway, since the miles were already in play. They confirmed my upgrade seats on both legs – 4B and 4B. No problem. Next, I called the front desk to get the room for an extra day. They said that since I booked through Expedia, I’d have to go through them again if I wanted their special rate. I asked what the hotel rate was - $109, only $20 less than Expedia gave me! Thanks for all the help, everyone.
I spent a grueling day eating. Pancake Hut at 10:30. Typhoon at 12:45. Renton Choice Chinese at 7 PM. Then back to the Zombie Hotel to order my delicious brains for my getaway breakfast. One thing that Microsoft people are hardcore about is logo wear. My clothes were down to two Microsoft t-shirts I’d just purchased at the store. Everyone – everyone – saw me and said “Ran out of clothes, huh?”
I actually hadn’t run out of clothes. I sent a travel outfit down to the valet to get them cleaned same-day. The good news is that the laundry wasn’t run by zombies. No, they hired werewolves for this one, as the boxer shorts came back with that strong scent of burning rubber that only werewolves leave on elastic.
The local Seattle papers provided memorable coverage of the events back home. The P-I led with:
TWO PUPPIES TRAPPED IN TUKWILA WELL
Largest Blackout In U.S. History
Thursday, August 14, 2003
I drop by the Company Store to pick up a couple of t-shirts, and folks are gathered around a TV that’s showing CNN. For some reason, we no longer show MSNBC on company property. The coverage is showing massive crowds, people being led out of subways, the whole shmear. I mention that I’m from NY and have to fly home tonight, and for some reason everyone starts treating me like a visiting conqueror. Yes, I was there on 9-11. No, a lot of people had it a lot worse than me. By the time I got up to the register two minutes later, the clerk actually said “Oh, you’re the guy from New York!” The hell?
I headed over to an empty office on campus and swung into action. I called American, and they said that there was no way my flight was getting out tonight. No problem – I just changed the reservation to a direct flight on Friday morning. Unfortunately, I’d already checked out of the nice hotel. I hopped on Expedia and found a Radisson hotel a mere ¼ mile from SeaTac.
I had plenty of time to goof around now. I headed over to see Violet and Bridget. After a nice evening of kids, pizza, and CNN coverage of horrific NYC mob scenes where l should have been, I drove down to the Radisson. It’s on the beautiful International Drive near SeaTac, so named because travelers from 82 different countries have accidentally lost their passports in the filthy toilets of the local strip clubs over the years.
Monday, August 11, 2003
Since the flight left at noon, it was a "light snack" trip. The "light snack" consisted of a single minibag of Rold Golds. A full half ounce of pretzels? I couldn't possibly eat all that! Maybe I'll save some for later. I tried to plug in my laptop, but for some reason, the plane's DC power didn't make it all the way back to row 213. It evidently gets tired and quits around row 145.
We got into O'Hare in time, but the biggest airport on earth inexplicably had no wireless access except for the Starbucks in the food court. Following the "pretzel for lunch" paradigm, this mid-afternoon, snack-time flight featured the opportunity to grab a semi-chilled Sky Bistro bag containing four carrot sticks and a turkey sandwich. Fortunately, I'd grabbed my own sandwich from Wolfgang Puck across the way, because by the time I got on the flight, half the Bistro sandwich had soaked away into the paper wrapping, leaching away the vital turkey roll nutrients a body needs.
AA only features under-seat outlets in selected rows, which was evidently planned to maximize seat switching with confusing explanations to slack-jawed vacationers. I never before knew why the heck they needed to explain to people how to use a seat belt. The in-flight entertainment was my giving my copy of the Chicago Tribune to the woman sitting next to me, and having her stare at the front cover for two hours. About 10 hours into the flight, I realized that the one good thing about traveling on a daily dose of antibiotics is the lessened probability that you'll get the standard post-flight sinus infection.
The flight actually got in a few minutes early, but when I got to Hertz they didn't have a car for me. Some moron had made the reservation for July 11 instead of Aug 11, and even though I did the entire thing myself online, and checked the itinerary, it's all Hertz's fault somehow. Idiots. Actually, they were kind enough to dig out a Miata as a way to apologize for my stupidity, but see if I ever use them again.
Saturday, August 9, 2003
For some reason, my NetGear router can't figure out LAN requests to my domain. When I go to cynicor.com from anywhere, it passes through to my Web server just fine. When I go to cynicor.com (or even my IP address) from the LAN side of the router, it goes to the router's Web-based interface instead of passing back through on port 80. Going to my server's internal name works fine, but only from the LAN side (naturally). NetGear won't answer me to explain this bug in their firmware, and it causes problems with software like .TEXT. I don't want to add cynicor.com as a local address to the host files on my LAN machines, because I travel with some of them. Anyone else have this problem? Drop me a line.
I also got my stitches out today. It was relatively quick - a seam ripper, a dab of iodine, another five days on antibiotics, and I'm good to go. They gave me Levaquin, which can cause “minor” side effects like “ruptures of the shoulder, hand, or Achilles tendon,” “phototoxicity,” “convulsions,” and most minor of all, “suicidal thoughts or acts.” I also got a new bandage for the stitch area, which managed to sneak itself down my leg by the time I hit Citarella. Deep flesh wounds look a lot better when they're displayed prominently above two feet of loose, streaming gauze in a fine foods market. But hey, Cotswold cheese.
The Amagansett Fire Department is hosting a chicken dinner in a week, and they're advertising this event with a sign that highlights a chicken on it. The bird has one “hand” on its hip, while the other one makes an "OK!" sign. THIS ISN'T CUTE. This is ghastly. He's inviting us to feast on what might be family members - siblings, children, who knows? - and all he can do is tell us that it's OK! What would compel him to sell out his own like this? What evil brainwashing cult is the Amagansett FD perpetrating?
Thursday, August 7, 2003
My leg's at the "scrape little bits of scab off it with soap and water" stage now. Last night, one area that had been hurting when I stood up suddenly switched over to itching instead. I think that means that the two sides of the leg meat have finally decided that it's okay to start growing back together.
Addendum - Strangers I hate on the train:
1. The guy who wears a see-through camouflage tank top most mornings, so you can juuust make out his dark nipples. And he spits – not outside, on the pavement, but inside the waiting room.This list will be continued, trust me.
2. Everyone from Fire Island who takes the train on Monday mornings. Always carrying yappy little dogs on cell phones. How a Bichon can be someone’s personal trainer, I have no idea.
Wednesday, August 6, 2003
But now, I’d like to complain about my cell phone. I woke up yesterday at 5 AM for my normal 90 minutes of calisthenics and pancake breakfast. I was standing in the kitchen when I heard a voice coming from the living room. No one’s up at 5 AM, so I thought it was the TV turning itself on again. When I limped in, I heard the voice more clearly. “You have an incoming call. You have an incoming call.” My cell phone’s somehow been designed to out-annoying the regular models.
So I know the call’s not for me, but I pick up anyway just to shut the voices up. The caller says “Hey! Geronimo!” I have to take messages at 5 AM for someone named Geronimo? “Naaaah, he’s not here now. This is Crazy Horse.” The phone number’s had a rich history, passing from someone named Rich to a fellow named Ed to a 19th Century Apache, then to me.
Then this morning, I realized that the phone had been vibrating its battery down all night, frantically trying to wake me from downstairs so it could deliver its new text message. It just really needed to tell me this important bulletin from the Important Enough To Bug People’s Phones Desk of MSNBC. I flip open the phone to see this vital story, and there it is:
Breaking News: Landmark decision
So we’ve just used half the phone’s battery to tell me “Landmark decision.” Great! Could you be a little less specific? Did we choose a new Pope? Did the Empire State Building decide to run for California governor? This is worse than meaningless – it’s meaninglessly annoying.
At least I’ve finally figured out how to do situps with a bad leg.
Monday, August 4, 2003
But first, I had to pack my bag. Normally, this is a rather elaborate affair, for I'll bring up to 50 pounds of swag on a particular day. Laptop, MP3 drive, iPaq, phone, a couple of hoagies in case the train gets stuck and my fellow passengers turn on each other in hunger. I'd also packed two small Ziplocs on Sunday night. One had some Pepto caplets and decongestants in case the medicine upset my stomach or made me start sneezing. The other contained three antibiotic capsules and nine acidophilus caplets. I'd left them on top of my bag overnight so that I wouldn't forget them. When I looked this morning, the antibiotic bag was gone. Simply gone. I reached into my laptop bag, and the miscellany bag was gnawed through, with nibbles taken out of the Pepto caplets.
Mice had found my stash.
We've had this problem before. Last time, the solution was to put the dog kibble in an anodized aluminum trashcan (which, come to think of it, is where most of the active ingredients of kibble are found in the first place). But this wasn't the first time that the mice have gone after my delicious, salty laptop bag, and this time they carried off my pills completely. No sign of the Ziploc around the chair, or under it, or anywhere mice might go to chew through three cephalexin capsules in an attempt to breed a race of disease-fighting, invulnerable supermice. With good stomachs, because they got the acidophilus too.
What's wrong with the agreement on which civilization's been based since the 1500s? If it's in the Ziploc, it's not yours, Squeaky.
So back to the train, I carried around my brand new, goofy cane. As it turned out, it became less vital as the day went on, because my leg just wasn't hurting enough to justify the plodding work involved in ostentatiously pushing off with the cane before every step. I managed to figure out a way to keep my leg up on the train, sort of, and it even let me off right in front of an escalator. For the first time in a long time, I took the subway uptown. Now I can remember why I stopped doing it a year ago - it really kind of sucks. It's hot, crowded, and angry.
The one thing that really knocked me over today was a shock discovery. The "Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80s" version of "Let Me Go" was actually a fraud. It was some weird remix that removed the "though guilty of no crimes" line at the end. I assume they only paid $5 royalties to use this discarded version instead of the real one, but true connoisseurs know the difference with their eyes closed. An outrage. Shame on you, Rhino.
Sunday, August 3, 2003
Finally, at about 3 PM I dozed off for a little while. When I woke up, miracle of miracles, the pain had subsided. On a 1-10 scale, it had gone from a 7 (at rest) to about a 3. Standing on it still brought it back to an 8 or a 9. Even so, as the night went on it felt better and better and I was able to watch an uninterrupted episode of Queer Eye. I managed to put in eight hours of sleep, thanks to my good friend Tylenol No. 1. Thanks Canada! Thanks Kelli!
On Saturday, my patient instructions said that I had to go to the "wound clinic" between 8 and 4. I called Good Sam and asked for the "wound clinic", and they said that the "wound clinic" was some magical codename for a second walk-in visit to the FastTrack area of the ER. I took a shower (this time, I comically covered the stitches with Saran Wrap in an apparent attempt to mimic some crap "please your man" advice from a 70s copy of Cosmo), then stumbled around for a while and finally drove back over to Good Sam. They spruced up the waiting room with a new retching woman, which I thought really showed a touch of class. I waited half an hour or so, went in to see an attendant, and got a pen line drawn on my leg to note where the nearly invisible reddish area was. Now I'm a bit worried about cellulitis, although the guy assures me that I'll be able to fly in a week.
I actually only took two ibuprofen during the whole day, and kept triple-dosing myself with acidophilus as I took the antibiotics, so my stomach didn't get ripped up. Still having problems standing for too long, at certain angles, but everything else is looking better.
So today, I decided that if I was going to work tomorrow, I'd need a cane. Not just any cane, either. A horribly cheap one from Genovese. I dressed my leg up to go out on the town and drove over to the King Kullen Plaza. For some reason, every shopping plaza is now named after one of the stores, not after any local landmark. On Long Island, there are about 40 King Kullen Plazas. In any event, my plans were dashed when, arriving at Genovese, I discovered that it had turned into an Eckerd overnight. In theory, I have nothing against Eckerd. In reality, the name conjures up long-buried memories of going to the drug store in Hallandale with my grandparents, and watching as 90-year-olds argued with the clerk over expired coupons for absorbent undergarments.
I found the cane of my dreams (although it didn't have the claw attachment at the end like some of the other ones did - that would've gotten into the $20 range), and scooped up some other essentials like Poppycock and ear plugs. Then I realized that my bandage was slipping down to my ankle - I'd taped up one end of the gauze wrap but not the other - and that I was now the guy in the drug store that everyone was staring at. There's nothing worse than being the worst-off guy at the Eckerd.
The day did have some highlights. I managed to trick Chris Sells with the old "it's looking better already!" trick by sending the most hideous wound picture I could google up. He was so perturbed that he fired off some sharp criticism of my site in his Spoutlet, and is promising never to read it again unless I actually get off my lazy and provide some simple RSS feeds on here. Don't these people know I'm supposed to be resting? I can't do RSS and keep my ankle above my heart. Soon - perhaps when I'm healed - I'll do the XML thing.
Meanwhile, I passed the time by compiling my recent press appearances. I didn't even know that Newsday had printed one of the "crazy old man" letters I sent them last September. I also found some other old stories, including the fall of my distant cousin Barry Trupin, my uncle being interviewed by Bill O'Reilly, and even my dermatologist being hauled off to prison for firebombing a colleague's home.