Saturday, April 28, 2007

Where the hell is Matt

This is quite possibly my new favorite site (well, after Twitter, and The Onion): WhereTheHellisMatt.com.

I didn't even find out about him on YouTube. I found out about him after reading a story about how a bunch of other people found out about him on YouTube. His video of him going around and just dancing in a bunch of different places is great, mostly because so many of these places are so cool: Norway, Bolivia, Namibia, Antarctica... I watch it and just think "no fair!!" Because when you're a mature 25 year-old, that's how you react to stuff.

Anyway, I'm interested in all things travel-related, and Matt has some interesting stuff. He's documenting his travels through Africa right now, pictures and all, and doing a great job of it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A shoe story

Lately I've become a bit enamored of shoes. Heels, to be exact, with peep-toes. It all started innocently enough with this pair from White House Black Market (they're much sexier from other angles). But then I was out with some friends one night and my friend CJ was wearing these:

Now I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty fabulous-looking shoe. Add to that the fact that my friend assured us the shoes were comfortable (that! comfortable!), and I was sold. (And not just me: another girl we were out with caved last night and bought them too.) We made her take off her shoes so we could see the brand name and go take the credit for her good taste. I ordered them from Nordstrom.com the following morning.

They showed up on Friday, just as gorgeous as the shoe in that picture, size 8 1/2, my size. Well, not quite: they were just small enough that I knew they'd murder my feet, but not so small for me to be certain the 9 would be the right fit, and not too big. (Every so often you're between sizes, and if you want the shoes you just have to suck it up and go with the one that will stay one but chafe, or the one that could fall off when you walk too fast.)

Well, these had shown up in the mail, and I wasn't keen on going through all of the effort of returning them, getting a 9, and finding the 9 didn't fit either. I decided to go find a Nordstrom that had them, or at least similar shoes by the same designer, and try the 9 to see if it was right or not.

Sunday I was down in South Bay to run an errand, and noticed a Nordstrom on my way. I stopped in on my way back home to settle my sizing issue. I explained my situation to the sales guy and asked if they had this particular shoe. They didn't, but had others by the same designer. I asked to try on an 8 1/2 and a 9 so I could decide. The 9 fit! There was hope my red shoes and I might stay together.

The sales guy asked if I had the shoes with me: I could return them there and order the replacement pair online, or he could check and see if other stores had them in my size. I decided that beat the hell out of having to mail them back (honestly, mail: how antiquated), so I went back to my car and retrieved the shoes and the box they'd been shipped in.

Upon my return I wandered around looking for my sales guy, hoping I'd recognize him--I mean, all the sales guys were in similar-colored jackets, going through similar shoe customer-service motions; how am I supposed to pick my sales guy out?--holding onto my oversized box from Nordstrom.com (you'd think they'd have shoebox-sized shipping containers by now). I stand near the register and look around, making sure it's easy to see me so I won't have to go find him. No one approaches me. A guy behind the register who I'm pretty sure wasn't the one who helped me asks if I need help with anything and I explain I'm looking for someone I'd been talking to earlier. (Like that narrows it down.) He calls in back, and a couple minutes later, my sales guy comes out.

"Look what I found."

One pair of red Linea Paolo "Babe" (shut up, yes that's their name) shoes, and they were in my size.

We're going to live happily ever after.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I caved.

I joined Twitter.

Let the minutiae begin!

Twittervision and Kurt Vonnegut

I was inspired to post because I just learned about both Twittervision and Kurt Vonnegut's death (very sad, his books are among the few I've read that have never faded in my memory). And then I thought back to how I came across these bits of information, and the mere chance involved with all of this convinces me it's a wonder I'm ever able to find anything out for myself at all. Here's how it happened, from the beginning:

8:30 pm last night
Get a call from my friend who I've been catsitting for and learn she's going to be out of town until Sunday, so I offer to continue looking after the cat until then.

9:30 pm
Leave the going away party I've been at to head home and go to sleep (have been exhausted for the last couple days); remember I have to go take care of the cat, decide I'll just crash at my friend's place so the cat has someone around.

10:15 pm
Finally get to friend's apartment after stopping at my place to get essentials and make another stop to get something to eat.

11:00 pm
Finally get into bed.

11:45 pm
Finally get to sleep... nocturnal cats are something of a distraction.

6:15 am
Alarm. Mmmph. Snooze.

6:23 am
Alarm. Mmmph. Snooze.

...ad infinitum until...

8:35 am
Mmmph. Whatimeizit. Fuckinshit.

8:36 am
Cannot possibly get up. Eyes hurt. 3 days now. Work from home day.

8:55 am
Retrieve laptop.

9:01 am - 10:30 am
Log onto im, remote desktop connection, etc. Check email, get to work on a data request, make some discoveries, send more email, etc.

10:31 am
Hmm, might like some music while I'm poring over this. Nice thing about working at home is I can just open iTunes and voila.

10:33 am
Oh yeah, wasn't there that song I wanted to buy? How'd it go? Had the word 'dare' I think...

10:34 am
Google is amazing. I typed 'lyrics dare' and the song I wanted (turned out it was by Switchfoot) was just below the fold.

10:35 am
Buy song on iTunes.

10:36 am
Hmm, haven't synched my iPod lately, I should see what the podcast situation looks like these days.

10:38 am
Scanning podcasts to download... get all the Ask a Ninja, disappointed that there's no stock of Onion podcasts going further back than 5 days, Slate Explainer.... hmm, read that... ooh, that sounds interesting... yeah, why does it take hours to evacuate a sinking vessel? Think I'll just go read these now instead of downloading them.

10:45 am
Have read about how advertisers can pull spots from shows (inspired by Don Imus), why David Sedaris' "exaggeration" in non-fiction humor writing is being defended, story on the allure of Twitter, which I'd seen mentioned in another blog I read. Have not read about why it takes hours to evacuate a sinking vessel.

10:48 am
Twitter article is pretty interesting. Favorite find is the link to Twittervision, a mash-up of Twitter and Google Maps. Pretty hilarious to watch tweets come in from all over the world, generally in the local language, too. The kind of thing you could just stare at for hours.

10:49 am
Someone just tweeted that Kurt Vonnegut died. Kurt Vonnegut died?!

10:51 am
Sigh. It's true.

10:55 am
I can't even believe how random it is that I learn stuff in this fashion. If I hadn't been checking out Twittervision I wouldn't have heard that Vonnegut had died; I wouldn't have been on Twittervision if I hadn't read about it in that Slate article; I wouldn't have been on Slate in the first place if I hadn't seen the Explainer headlines in iTunes; I wouldn't have been in iTunes if I'd actually been at work today; I wouldn't have worked from home if I hadn't slept poorly due to catsitting for the darn cat; I wouldn't have been catsitting if I hadn't heard from my friend that she was staying in Texas through Sunday... it keeps going on and on.

I realize hearing news of Vonnegut's death doesn't seem like the kind of event that has enough import to merit this kind of retrospection, but his books did have an impact on me and I'm saddened to learn of his passing. And it was in thinking about that that I realized how chancy it was I came across this information myself, working from home, with no coworkers around to keep me informed. I think it was an interesting exercise to go through that because so many things are the result of lots of little what-if events like that. Big things, like how I ended up at my current job, or small things, like this. Our lives feel so much less chaotic than they really are.

I think it has to do with our sense of control. We feel as though we're in control of our lives: we don't know what the other what-if option was and we don't care, because it didn't happen, did it?And we're ok with not having control over that because we didn't know it was something we wanted control over: you can't know that unless you know the difference your power over the outcome could make. In those cases where we do have control, e.g. you know all of your options and you select what you think is the best one, there is no sense of chaos because you knew all the facts. It's only when you think about all those what-if moments, all the times there were things that didn't happen, things you didn't know, and how those made a difference in your life that the possibilities really start to overwhelm you. Which is yet another reason why life seems less chaotic than it really is: we just don't think about the chaos.

Hmm, I think that's enough philosophizing for today. (I don't want to think about the chaos anymore.) Back to work.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Top 5 movies

So at present, I'm reading a book about the movie "All About Eve"--a book titled, cleverly enough, "All About 'All About Eve'"--and it's pretty interesting, given my limited knowledge of celebrity gossip from 50 years ago (I'm a consumer of much more current celebrity gossip). But it's a good movie, good enough to warrant a book and my subsequent reading of it, and that plus a couple of recent inquiries as to what my favorite movies actually are has led me to consider that question with a bit more thought than I normally would.

I never know what my number one movie is, so I've left that slot blank to be filled in by whatever movie I'm in the mood to see at that particular instant. But I always announce "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" as my number two movie, because while it's not something I want to watch everyday, there's something about it, about what it says about relationships, plus how it was made (Michel Gondry's directorial style is like nothing I've ever seen before and I love him for it--"Science of Sleep" is another by him that's great, though the story hasn't a hope of measuring up to the likes of Eternal Sunshine), that made an impression from the very first time I saw it. I'm all the more impressed by this film because I saw it for the first time in less-than-ideal circumstances: on an airplane, on one of those tiny screens that are at least eight feet away from you, and I missed the beginning. And despite that, after seeing it, I promptly bought it when I next came across it. I adore this movie.

Slots three, four and five (and I suppose six, since I should be naming my top five movies and leaving out number one entirely is kind of a copout... I'll go out on a limb for the sake of this post and just rank Eternal Sunshine at #1) are much harder. Part of the problem is that I'm a bit shaky on my criteria. I want movies in my top five to be able to withstand the test of time, so that I think it's just as compelling five or ten years from now as I do today, but does it have to be a movie that I'm always in the mood to watch? That's generally been my criteria with books: favorites are those I can read over and over and never get tired of (yes, I'm one of those people who rereads books and rewatches movies, and as such I have a large collection of each). But movies... the movies you really love make it onto that list because you have some emotional connection with them that you treasure, and don't want to lose by desensitizing yourself to the movie by watching it too many times. And so the other movies on this list are films I love, and talk up to other people as something they have to see, but watch very infrequently myself. I'm taking a gander at my DVD collection (favorites can only come from within these ranks, as I can't feel very strongly about a film if I'm not even willing to buy the damn thing), other candidates for these other four slots are, in no particular order:
  • Thank You for Smoking
  • All About Eve
  • LA Confidential
  • The Sting
  • The Incredibles
  • The Hudsucker Proxy

Other movies stand out as ones that I really like: The Fifth Element, Anchorman, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Pride & Prejudice... these are movies I've been able to watch over and over without getting tired of them (and yes, I said Anchorman--there are just too many good lines in that movie). But none are of the caliber of those first seven... and since I can't decide amongst them right now, I guess I'm just going to have to revise "top five" to "top seven". It's not like I'll ever remember all of those anyway.

I was going to go on about what it is about all of those that I find so compelling and whatnot, but I'm kinda tired now, and have to get up early tomorrow to actually finally go to the gym (it's been months, for one reason or another, and it's really getting on my nerves).

Bonsoir!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fool's!

Hahaha, I'll bet you thought I really wasn't going to post for another six months now, didn'tcha? Didn'tcha?! That, my friends, is what we call a setup. And look, a post on April Fool's to show that you were wrong! BURN!!

Actually, I didn't really have anything to post about: I spent my Saturday in Palm Springs and then drove back to LA today and spent the afternoon at Santa Anita with the social club I joined, at our Father/Daughter Day at the Races. And all of it was great: the weather is absolutely fantastic; there's not a cloud in the sky and it's that perfect not-too-hot-not-too-cold temperature. Much fun was had drinking margaritas in Palm Springs and then drinking Bloody Marys at the track and placing the occasional bet (I broke even, my dad came out ahead after making a big win in the second race). But I don't really have any comment on any of it except to say that it's effing great living in LA sometimes. Oh, and I'm glad my car was able to make it out to Palm Springs and back without incident. My renewed confidence in my car's tenacity plus my proximity to work (about 2 miles, which is maybe a 15-20 minute bike ride) means I have almost no reason to buy a new car anytime soon. I've been thinking about what kind I might want to own and I got nothin'--my favorite car, the very sexy Infiniti G35, is probably within reach but when I think about how much money I'd have to pay and, on top of that, the fact that I'd have to take care of it and be paranoid about where I park and stuff, I just don't want any of that hassle. By keeping my current car (a very unsexy 1988 Jeep Cherokee), not only do I have no car payments but the benefit of having rubber bumpers (which I don't think they even put on cars anymore) means I can run into all kinds of things and not leave a mark on the car. It's just so fantastically low-maintenance that I'm not sure I'm ready to give that up. So the new plan is to drive it into the ground because, even when that happens, I'll still be able to bike to work for a few weeks while I get over what happened to my old car and in the meantime really build an appreciation for the benefits incumbent upon buying a new one.

But I digress. My reason for posting today was to share the following very funny new inventions from our friends at Google, all brought to my attention by my friend Sean. The first one is currently featured on Google.com and I don't know how he came by the rest of them, but all are worth a look:

Google TiSP
Google Romance
Google Gulp
Google Copernicus Center
Google PigeonRank
Gmail Paper

Happy April Fools' Day!

Whole27: Recap

So we didn't quite make it 30 days. On Thursday, we looked at the prospect of a dry Memorial Day weekend (and the Friday leading up to i...