Friday, July 22, 2005

New Blog Site

Check me out out at Live Journal... click here... I don't know if I'll be gone long, but trying some new scenery! Let me know which you prefer!

The "Better than Doing Nothing" Blog

1. What is your occupation? Production Coordinator... It's more of a job than an occupation.

2. What color is your underwear? Today, white. Tomorrow, ???

3. What are you listening to right now? My manager spraying his keyboard with canned air, the copier, an accounting machine, and various other office background noise.

4. What was the last thing you ate? Sadly, a donut.

5. Do you wish on stars? I wish on anything that might help.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Candy apple red, if that comes in crayon.

7. How is the weather now? As far as I know, very hot and humid. Right now I'm in the air conditioning, so it's hard to tell.

8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Guy in the copy center.

9. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I like the people who posted it where I read it.

10. How old are you today? 33 and 1 day.

11. Favorite drink? Cranberry grape.

12. Favorite sport to watch? Gymnastics.

13. Have you ever dyed your hair? No, but I've thought about it.

14. Do you wear contacts or glasses? Yes.

15. Pets? 1 cat, and a missing tortoise.

16. Favorite food dessert? Ice cream. Also, sherbets & sorbets. Current favorite: Baskin Robbins Rock 'n Pop Swirl (formerly known as "Shrek 2" a year ago).

17. What was the last movie you watched? "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory"

18. Favorite Day of the year? Depends on the year. I usually like the 4th of July.

19. What do you do to vent anger? I stand in line at the Comcast building and threaten to come back every single day until they fix my problem.

20. What was your favorite toy as child? Stuffed animals.

21. Fall or Spring? Spring.

22. Hugs or kisses? Hugs AND kisses (but hugs, if i MUST choose).

23. Cherry or Blueberry? Cherry.

24. Do you want your friends to email you back? I always want my friends to email. I'm writing this from work... I am BORED.

25. Who is most likely to respond? I'm guessing forestrane.

26. Who is least likely to respond? All those people who say they read this blog, but have never commented.

27. Living arrangements? 4 story house in the Maryland suburbs (sounds good, doesn't it?)... until we get foreclosed on!

28. When was the last time you cried? I had a memory that made me cry a few days ago.

29. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes and a gym bag.

30. Who is the friend you have had the longest? Terri.

31. What did you do last night? Celebrated my B-day... removed the battery from my car to replace the headlight (poor design), grabbed a sandwich, fixed a bedroom window screen, watched Big Brother, chatted with a friend, and ate cake.

32. What are you afraid of? Never finding my calling... That and death. Particularly, not finding my calling before death.

33. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Cheeseburgers.

34. Favorite car? I loved my wife's VW.

35. What is your favorite pastime? I like a little bit of everything. TV, being outdoors.

36. Number of keys on your key ring? Way too many, I'm often told.

37. How many years at your current job? 1/3.

38. Favorite day of the week? Saturday.

39. How many states have you lived in? 2.

40. How many cities have you lived in? If you count L.A.'s subcities, 5... Otherwise, 4.

Friday, July 15, 2005


I've been thinking a lot about what I like and don't like about living in Maryland since I've moved... Surprisingly, so far, the #1 reason I would want to move from here is to get rid of Comcast. Honestly.

Today, I think I found my way out. I think I can get Fios... fiber optic internet service. Does anyone reading this know anything about it or have heard of any plusses or minuses? With Fios, supposedly I can keep my broadband phone, get rid of Comcast, and replace the cable with satellite. It will be slightly more per month, but only slightly... and worth it if I actually get service regularly. (... writing this after another week of no internet and no phone service.)

Interesting Blog

Check out this interesting blog:


Diagnosis: PFS

I visited the Orthopedist today, which was no small feat, considering I had to be there, in DC, at the office, at 8am. I don't usually wake up until 8am, but I had to be at the Metro at 6:30am to make sure I got there in time. The receptionist's description that the office was about "100 feet" to the left after exiting the Metro station was also a bit off. I walked in circles over and over again until I finally figured out that she probably meant something closer to 1,000 feet or so.

On the 1,000 foot walk, I saw the Vice President. Well, I saw his entourage. They say you can tell it's the Vice President and not the President because the VP's entourage is smaller and uses lights AND sirens. The President's entourage apparently only uses lights. It's the 2nd time I've "seen" him since I moved here.

Anyway, the Orthopedist took a few x-rays and he thinks I have Patella-Femoral Syndrome. Basically, my kneecap doesn't sit center over my femur, as it should. The good news: I probably won't need surgery, it can mostly be treated by doing some exercises on my own, and the cost at this point will probably only amount to the Dr.'s visit, a different knee brace, some shoe inserts, and maybe a couple of ankle weights. The bad news: It proabably can't be cured, I now have to take the elevator instead of the stairs (stairs, in general, are bad), bicycling is not the best activity (though I can try it), I need to wear a brace during sports, and I will probably have periodic pain from now on (Advil and Alleve will become my very good friends). Overall, a very mediocre diagnosis. Could be a lot worse, but I like to be active, and this is a blow to my athletic ego. We'll also have to wait and see if the diagnosis sticks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Beautiful Bethesda - Benihana & "Heights"

We visited beautiful downtown Bethesda for the first time since arriving in Maryland. It really is a happening place compared to Rockville. It was hip and young, with a plethora of restaurants, theaters, lights, music, and (of course) people. It reminded me a bit of Old Town Pasadena. With, of course, property values to match.

While in town, we had dinner at Benihana, family-style Japanese hibachi place where everyone sits around the grill as the chefs perform tricks and make scrumptous meals. The best part of the Benihana experience is that if you don't have enough people in your party to take up an entire table, you will often be seated with others. And, in the ideal situation, the others will be quite interesting. This outing was one of those ideal situations.

It's fascinating how much detail complete strangers are willing to share over dinner. We sat with 4 women. A mother, her adult daughter and her 2 adult nieces. In the course of one dinner, here is what I learned about our table-mates:

1. The adult daughter is looking for medical schools to apply to. She wants to be a surgeon, specializing in reconstructive surgery. She likes a rural environment and was curious about schools in Minnesota and Illinois, though her ideal place to live would be Brimingham, AL, even though she admits they could be racist there and she is black.

2. One of the adult nieces lives on a street only a few blocks from our house.

3. The other adult niece has cheated on her husband, but only twice, which is OK since he cheated on her first and she doesn't intend to do it any more, unless he doesn't get his act together.

4. The mother has never cheated in her 25(?) years of marriage, not even the "Jimmy Carter way." Apparently, Jimmy Carter said he never physically cheated, only in his heart. The mother lives in DC and, when asked what she thought of Marion Barry, gave a 10 minute lecture singing his praises, complimenting his ability to find work for youth, how he kept young people off the streets, and how he worked tirelessly for the people and city of DC. She presented this in a very astute way, getting us hooked on his good points before curtly mentioning his addiction to crack only at the end of her dialogue. And when she did mention it, she said "Sure, he did crack, but that only helped keep him able to fight for the citizens of this city 24 hours a day... He was never as good after he got caught." She was a well-educated and interesting woman. We found out she is a dentist as well as a professor of dentistry at a well-known institution and, since we don't have a dentist out here, she will very likely become ours now. She also talked about racism and how South Carolina has changed over the years (for the good).

In other news...

- We saw the art-house movie "Heights" this weekend while in Bethesda. A wonderful film, I give it 2 thumbs up. Well-written, well-acted, low budget... basic movie-making at its finest. I'm sure better than any of the summer blockbuster junk that is out right now. It's about relationships and life choices... and how much life can be altered in just 1 day. Not exactly like "Sliding Doors", but thought-provoking in the same way. Go see it! Next on the list: Penguins.

- We also headed back to the farms to pick more blueberries and raspberries.

- I finally have an appointment to have my knee checked out. As of this writing, I've already abandoned bicycling, walking the stairs, and another company softball game. I don't have a scale, but I feel like I've put on at least 5 pounds in the past week. Sigh. Big, big sigh.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Heightened Alert

Here we go again. I can't even begin to assemble my thoughts on the subject of terrorism and war. I'm not sure if I even want to think about it for that long.

But here's something I have decided to think about. Heightened security. Orange alerts. What the heck do they mean? My wife, a law enforcement officer, has worked through several of these security status changes. Ask her to tell you the difference between what she does every day and what she does during times of "heightened security"... go ahead, ask her. The answer, inevitably, will be nothing. Perhaps the special forces take other actions, and perhaps she just has not been with the special units during these times, but who is all of this extra security for, anyway?

I believe the bag checks at public events, and the higher security presence after an incident, are more for perception, to give citizens a false sense of security and control over their lives when really there isn't much we can do in our daily existence to prevent these terrorist attacks. Yesterday and today, bomb-sniffing dogs searched the Metro trains, police with machine guns spot-checked the trains as they came through the stations, and the bathrooms were closed to prevent any dubious activity. Do we in America really think the terrorists don't pay any attention? Do you think they're going to put a bomb on a train that they know is going to be sniffed by a dog before they ever get a chance to set it off? Of course not. They're patient. They wait. They wait until we search for a few days or weeks and determine that we haven't found anything and, therefore, the threat has subsided. The dogs are removed. The armed guards slowly disappear from public venues. The bathrooms re-open. Then we go ahead and drop our alert level back down to Yellow or even Blue. We stop patrolling our Metros and public areas. We get lax with our security. We feel comfortable again that we've thwarted terrorism.

That's when we need protection the most.

I know in America we don't want to live in a police state. However, where are these extra security measures the rest of the time? What sense is a security check where they stop people carrying purses, but wave everyone else through? My wife and I went to a national museum the other day. She had her gun in a holster on her waist, under her shirt. There were no metal detectors, just a bunch of day-player security guards. They stopped the woman pushing the stroller, and they waved us through. "Not carrying a bag, don't need to be checked," they said. I've been to the Hollywood Bowl and had a camera case large enough to fit a camera or binoculars... or a gun or grenade. But it was too small.. they waved me through. "Let's stop only the guys with the coolers," was the apparent attitude.

I know we can't protect every place in a free country all of the time. As an ex-FBI expert said at a forum held by the Washington Post, "... if you put metal detectors at the transit stations, they will attack the shopping malls..." There's no way to put a shield around every place all of the time. Not to remain free. But these "displays" of heightened security aren't really an answer, either. We can't get it together only after something terrible has happened. We've got to get it right all of the time. As it's said, we have to be right ALL of the time to prevent terrorism. The terrorists only have to get it right ONCE.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Blown Knees, Beginner's Omelettes, Blueberries, and the Big Bang

It finally happened. I sat down for a good chunk of my work day on Friday, and it pained me to stand up again. I hoped it would work out the kink as usual, ever since the knee problems began. But alas, this was not to be the case. I hobbled around in pain most of the rest of the day, limping enough to even evoke the offer of crutches from my boss. Since Friday, the pain and cramping have eased, the ability to move has shifted off and on again. But I am finally ready to see the Orthopedist. I am waiting for my friends to return from a trip, so they can provide me the name of their referral. The physical therapist believes it is torn cartilage, but I am just not ready for knee surgery. Hopefully the MRI will be revealing, and by revealing I mean I hope in a positive way. Sigh.

Other weekend news. On Saturday, we went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, which is my personal favorite of the museums because of all the pop culture and "kitschy" (can't spell it) stuff. We of course saw Fonzie's jacket and Dorothy's ruby red slippers. New since my last visit several years ago was Julia Child's kitchen. Literally, her kitchen. I never really watched her while she was alive, even knowing what an icon of cooking she was. But while there, a video was playing with clips of some of her TV moments. And one of the clips was a really short one on how to make a 20-second omelette. Now, I know omelettes aren't brain surgery, but I'm no master of the kitchen. I once tried to make an omelette with an "omelette maker" contraption my mom had and spilled all of the innards across the entire stove. So imagine my delight after 5 minutes of watching a video in a museum, going home to make omelettes for dinner. Not exactly 20 seconds, for a beginner like me, but about a minute each... and they were delicious and even looked like omelettes! Julia Child said it's the best way for you and 5 of your friends to prepare a meal for 300 guests in 20 minutes... in case you were looking to do that.

On Sunday, we went back to the farms to pick fruit. The strawberries were looking pretty worn at this point, so we opted for raspberries (which I don't like - too many seeds) and blueberries (which I didn't like until we picked them fresh!) Blueberries are apparently some of the best natural food, high in anti-oxidants and one of nature's best. I'm glad I now like them. The ride to the farm was gorgeous again, and there were a lot more people out picking fruit this time, probably because of the summer vacation. Even the families of geese were enjoying a little swim by the nearby lake... if you can call a pooling of water a "lake." I also thought it was exciting to be outdoors in a field among truly red and blue fruit on the weekend celebrating our country's independence. In a few weeks they will have peaches, plums, and corn. I expect we'll be making a few more trips.

On Monday, my wife of course was working... holidays are just extra-busy days for law enforcement. All of the friends I know in the area were out of town for the holiday weekend, so I decided to get out rather than sit on my arse watching fireworks on TV. I am in the nation's capital, after all. So I went by myself to the National Mall, and sat among the millions of others watching in awe as the fireworks exploded over the Washington Monument. It was truly incredible, although a little lonely. I appreciated the adventure and the beauty, as I do in most of what I do. But I know why single people are always looking to be with someone... experiences are enhanced when you have someone to share them with. On the metro ride back home, I reveled in the joy of my new hobby, people-watching. It was all fine until I noticed the clean cut and responsible-looking man coming closer to me. I thought he was talking to me at first, but he said something about a "national search." Then he kept talking about this "national search"... it was hard to tell because the train was so loud I could only hear every few words. I figured he had an earpiece and was on the phone. But then I realized he was repeating the same sentence over and over again about this "national search." Eventaully, he spiced up the conversation, by saying "you should get to the hospital and see your daughter, she might need brain surgery," or something like that. And he ended it by talking about something like "smashing her head in," which he also repeated many times until it was time to exit the train. I made a mental note of his description, in case this turned out to be relevant at some point. Then I hobbled home to watch the fireworks replay on TV.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Yeah Spain! Yeah Canada! Yeah Spain! Yeah Canada! Yeah!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Night Lights

Yesterday was extremely hot and muggy. After work, I joined some co-workers for a game of kickball. I'm definitely getting older, but it was still fun, even with the beginning of another summer storm at the end of the game. Anyway, I'm driving home and I start seeing spots. I blink a few times and they go away, then reappear, then disappear. I'm feeling OK, but wondering if maybe I got dehydrated again. I get home and think of taking a nap, but I forgot an errand and have to run to the store. I start seeing spots again. On the way home, I'm sure I must need to lie down. Then I think, perhaps it's the street lights reflecting on the rain drops on my windows. Yeah, that must be it. I see the flashing lights out of the corners of my eyes. I'm definitely going insane. I arrive home and get out of the car, but now, without the drops on the windows to pacify me, I still see shimmering lights. Now they are across the street. Before going in the front door, I pause for a moment. I squint and try really hard to focus. I blink some more. And then it hits me... fireflies. Believe it or not, I've never seen them before. All evening I had to keep peeking out the window. So amazing, so brilliant, these "lightning bugs."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Just for Fun

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Biology Lesson

The bird nest outside our bedroom window had shown a flurry of activity for the past 2 months. 2 birds kept flying in and out, monitoring the nest carefully. Last week, we awoke to very loud chirping, and realized that the baby birds had finally arrived! I even got a picture of them asking for some treats. (You may have to enlarge to get a good look). I've watched the babies' progress for a week, and suddenly they were gone. But they keep returning, as they're still flight novices. So I watch them every once in a while. My wife was asking exactly how birds, shall we say, "mate." Despite my zoo experience, I wasn't exactly sure. So today I went to take a peek at the babies flying about their nest and, let's just say, now I know the answer.

Nice Day

Although a steamy 90+ humidity day, it was again very nice out. My wife and I went for a bike ride. 1 chipmunk, 7 deer, 1 rabbit, 2 butterflies, and 1 woodpecker later, and we returned to being locked out of our house. Never seems to be a perfectly nice day without SOMETHING going wrong... but still, looking back, a nice day.

Friday, June 24, 2005

It's the Little Things...

I've mentioned many times how it's the little things that keep friends closer. Lately, I fell a bit disconnected from everyone. I'm missing the little things.

So, here's the deal. If you're reading this, you have hereby committed yourself to responding with one "little thing" that happened to you today. Here's my day so far:

- My wife (who is on her 2nd of 2 days off, after working two 24-hour shifts) didn't actually have today off at all. I woke up to find, as it turns out, she had to go to court. She didn't actually have yesterday off either, as she also had to go to court. She has also lost her voice, because 2 long shifts and no time off make it easy to get a cold.

- I got up late (as usual) and forgot that I had to take the trash to the curb since I didn't do it last night, thereby being even later to work.

- I was late to work again and, as usual, no one cared.

- I took a walk at lunch. I've felt heavier lately and sluggish. But the weather was BEAUTIFUL and I enjoyed the sunshine on my face.

- On my walk, I noticed how green the grass was, how beautiful the flowers are here, how blue the sky was, how clean the air was, how I felt better about things, how my head was getting clearer, and how much better my knee felt.

- Also on my walk, I heard a bird chirp directly above me. I stopped and it was on the branch directly over my head. I didn't want to scare it away, so I quietly walked further down the path. The bird hopped a couple branches closer as I walked. I stopped, the bird stopped. It jumped down closer. I walked forward, the bird walked forward. He was following me. We had a moment. I smiled.

- After the walk, I was warm, and glad my hair is long enough to put in a pony tail.

- I've taken to walking the stairs at work. I work on the 6th floor, but often have to walk to either the 4th or 11th floors. After about a week and a half of this, I think my thighs are finally getting slightly firmer. Once again today I noticed how I was glad my knee was better, so I could climb the stairs.

- I got up from my desk at work in the afternoon, and banged my (bad) knee into the side of it. I made a high-pitched squeal that my co-workers heard all across this section of my workplace. I didn't know weather to laugh or cry. I didn't do either, but I wanted to.

- Going home now... hoping to have a bike ride if my wife is awake and feeling up to it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Stage Names for Drs.?

Do you think doctors use "stage names" like actors do in Hollywood? The name of the dentist in my office building is Dr. Lipps. Growing up, my family also knew a family, the Doctors. The husband was a physician, so he was Dr. Doctor. I find that amusing.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Can't Get it Right

Remember a few months back, when after weeks of temperatures in the 30's, 50 finally felt HOT? Now, after a week in the upper 90's, the 70's felt COLD. I just can't get my body to acclimate correctly.

In other unrelated news, I found an old journal of mine... probably something I never should have read again. The details are interesting, shocking, and in some ways not surprising at all.... but the one thing I do realize is that there are definitely some things in life where that saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same..." really applies. And no matter where I go or what I do in life, there's always something that can creep back in and point out how I just can't get some things right.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

We Can Rule the World!

My wife and I were having dinner last week, and finally collected our thoughts on various MD phenomenons into one cohesive idea. We've decided that we could rule the world.

OK, maybe not the world... perhaps just the greater DC metropolitan area. Beware: I'm about to insult everyone living within a 300 mile radius.

People here are stupid. Aside from the fact that they can't drive in the lines, can't design traffic lights that are timed, don't know that opossums and possums are the same thing, and can't understand why I'm upset that sourdough is a totally foreign food here, I don't know how they get anything accomplished with the work ethic that exists.

Let's recap some of my jobs. How about the one where I worked all night long (2 days straight) to finish a project we knew had problems so we could deliver it wrong, just to fulfill our contractual obligation to deliver in time... followed by the reward of working on 4th of July weekend to fix the problem? What about the job where I helped make a religious propaganda film to poison the minds of children in Third World countries [] by essentially working 80-100 hour weeks and frequenting the sofa of the workplace? How about the job where I worked 2 full months EVERY consecutive day to meet a deadline? Or the job I had to drive to from Clarement to Santa Monica to Burbank on a Saturday to deliver a tape because I was the only one with a key?

OK, maybe I'm the one who's stupid. But that's the work ethic I came from. I now work basically 9-5, sometimes 6. And granted, I'm being paid accordingly. However, if a deadline gets missed, the only repurcussion is "Let's try harder next time." If it gets "late," it's time to go home and it will just have to wait for tomorrow. I've heard co-workers complain many times of how crazy busy they were after witnessing them talk all day long about personal matters, and how late they stayed, after hearing them talk about leaving at (oh my gosh, brace me!) 7 or 7:30pm.

And it doesn't seem like my co-workers are alone in this concept. Another friend told me it is the same where she works. And my wife... don't get me started on the stupidity of the police department here. Someone asked her how come she walks all the way around the back of the police car to approach a stopped vehicle rather that cross in front of it. She explained that she remains out of the headlights, so she is not backlit for the suspect to see her very well, and also so if the police car is hit from behind she won't be sandwiched in between. Her "training" cop says it isn't a problem to cross in front because he parks far enough away so if the car does get hit he'll have enough time to jump out of the way. No kidding.

Now, I realize this is where most of our country's leaders live and work. And perhaps all the brainpower goes into the political spectrum here, so none is left for the civilian population. But I doubt it. It's just a totally different work ethic. It's not to say there aren't any smart people here. Obviously, there are people who were smart enough to get to the top and tell us lemmings what to do each day. But gosh darn it. My wife feels she could easily be Chief here, and I don't disagree. And I for one am TOTALLY underutilized at work. Heck, everyone is.

I'm not the cutthroat type who wants to rip everyone else off so I can get ahead in life financially or otherwise. And that's what it seems the partners at my company were talking about the other night after softball. And there is definitely something to be said for finally having a life outside of work. So, maybe I'm just not cut out to exist in the top tier. But if I could just get one great idea that I was also passionate about... If my wife and I could set up a company and employ the people we knew back in L.A.... Wow, we'd be unstoppable if this was our competition. If this was the alternative, we could rule the world!


I've been accumulating my writing ideas for about a week, but the heat and humidity had me feeling quite slug-like for a while. Today, finally, a break in the humidity and a 15+ degree drop in temperature made it a BEAUTIFUL day. I got home from work, had a nice short bike ride, and finally felt refreshed and inspired enough to catch up a little bit.

Last weekend was Pride, and I have to admit it was nice to have a cultural reconnection of some sort. However, there are a few major differences between LA Pride and Capital Pride. First, apparently, is that the beautiful people really do live in Los Angeles, even if I denied it for all the years I lived there. There was a noticeable absence of any attractive women (or even men for that matter). Second, Capital Pride is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller. The festival was only 1 day instead of 2, and people started tearing their booths down almost 2 hours early. Now, in all fairness, it could have been the 90+ heat and humidity, but still... They didn't even fully block off the parade route, which took place in the evening by the way. In fact, we were standing in the middle of the street, practically surrounding the people IN the parade as cars would come in the opposite direction right behind us. Bizarre! Also, there were no dance tents. And the 1 "major" stage only attracted small crowds. The only place there were a LOT of people was in the caged off area AWAY from the booths, where you could purchase alcohol... and that's it... JUST to purchase alcohol. Not even to dance!! Funny, I don't always miss LA Pride when I'm in LA, but I sure missed it last weekend. However, I still had a blast, got my groove on, hit the streets, strutted my stuff, and enjoyed myself.

After the parade, my friends and I went out to eat at a French restaurant and they convinced me to eat escargot for the first time. I even have a picture of me trying it... and if I ever get this moved over to LiveJournal, I'll try to post it. I am NOT an adventurous eater, but I was in an adventurous mood for Pride, so I went for it... and it was GOOD! I like it a lot. :)

On Tuesday, I played softball in a game for work. For someone who never played, except for one work team stint more than 7 years ago, I did pretty good "for a girl." The participants said it was usually a one-sided game, but the teams wound up tying and going into extra innings. We were up by 1 in the bottom of the last inning. The other team was batting. They had 2 outs. There was a runner on 3rd. I was the catcher... but alas, I was a girl. The batter hit it toward the pitcher. The pitcher got the ball, I ran to home plate and held up my glove. The runner was coming, and the pitcher looks around and actually says "Where is everybody?"... he was waiting for the guys to come up and cover the base. So he stands there looking back and forth in awe. The runner scores, tying up the game. The batter makes it safely to 1st, and that is how we ultimately lost by 1. Now, I might be a girl, and I might have dropped it, but WHAT THE HECK DID YOU HAVE TO LOSE, YOU MORON???!??!?! Worst case, I would have dropped the ball, the runner would have scored, and the batter would have made it to first... hmm... sound familiar? Possible outcome? I catch the ball, tag the runner out at home, and make the winning out of the game! ARGH!!!

This is just another example of how come I think I should take over the world. And I'd do it, too, if it weren't for all that responsibility and stuff...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Emergency Card

Yesterday at work, someone brought me a sheet to fill out "in case of emergency." It included the usual phone, address, and email info. Then it asked "4 wheel drive, yes or no?" I asked what they needed that for. They said, "In case of a blizzard." So I asked, "What if I have a 4 wheel drive but I don't know how to drive in snow?" Slight pause. The response from 2 people simultaneously: "Um, put down 'no'."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Anticipated Protest of the Week

I haven't seen any official protests yet, but I'm expecting Gay Pride (or Capital Pride, as they call it here) to generate this week's Protest of the Week. Wherever gay people assemble in pride, unity, and love, there are bound to be people who see an abomination.

Pride is this weekend, and I'm looking forward to it. I feel I've been isolated from the culture for quite some time. I think the last time I was immersed in it was an entire year ago at last year's L.A. Pride. Go back to my postings from June 2004 (I think it was called "Busy Weekend") and you can read about it.

Where Humidity Comes From

So, this week I've experienced humidity. I've been in it before, but now I'm living it. For all the talk, they're right. I'm used to "dry heat" and after only a week of this, believe me when I say I prefer dry heat. The past week it's been in the 80's and 90's with very high humidity. I can stand the feel on my skin... it's moist and not burning like dry heat, which is nice, but my biggest problem is I seem to have trouble breathing. The air is literally thick and I can't seem to get full breaths in it. It's driving me bonkers!

But that isn't the worst part. Oh, no. You see, humidity, as most smart folks will tell you, exists because there is a lot of moisture in the air. What nobody prepared me for were the "summer storms" that my co-workers tell me can be an almost daily occurrence in Maryland. They have now told me that even when the forecasters don't mention a chance of thunderstorms, history has shown them that there is ALWAYS a chance of thunderstorms.

On Monday, after work, I ran a few errands. The day had been bright and muggy and in the 90's. But when I exited the supermarket after my last errand, the wind was suddenly whipping strongly, and the sky was turning black, and fast! I could see it rolling in. When I got home, the wind was howling and the trees were blowing sideways, so I closed all the windows, which were still open because it still was HOT, especially upstairs. By the time I got to the last window, I only had a few seconds before the big claps of thunder and the rain began hitting the windows straight on. It poured with such force that it was blinding outside and heavier than a shower in the morning (to get clean, not like an early rainshower). I went downstairs to watch TV and finally relax. More thunder, some lightning, and then the power flashed on and off, 3 times. After the third time, it remained off. The sun was setting and within a half hour I was sitting in the dark... for the next 2 hours. The thunder was so loud I jumped out of my chair a few times. The lightning was so intense that it sometimes hit at the same moment as the thunder, lighting up the sky in literal shades of orange, red, and even blue! It was non-stop for over an hour at least. I could even see the lightning rods several times. On one hand, it made me think of how Ben Franklin discovered electricity. On the other hand, it was terrifying for an inexperienced storm-watcher like myself. And it was LOUD! I was actually conscious of how loud everything seemed for that period of time, almost like an earthquake, if I could hear an earthquake over my screams. For all of my L.A.-native friends like myself, I'm sure you know I am NOT exaggerating when I say that if a storm like this had come to L.A., it would have been the top story for 2 days.

But not in Maryland. No. No mention, no discussion, no nothing. So I brought it up at work the day after. I said, "So, I'm guessing the storm last night was considered relatively mild, huh?" They looked at me as if to say "What storm?" and then did a very small scoff answering, "Storm? Oh, the rain yesterday? That was nothing." Oh, yeah. It's going to be a long summer.

P.S. And a long winter... apparently, they say there are only 4-8 really nice weeks of weather total all year in MD. Oh, joy.

A Little Bit of Everything

So, nothing too extraordinary going on, just a little summary of what's new:

- My friend that I met in California, but who is originally from Maryland, decided to move home. She arrived last week, and I'm excited to have another friend in the area.

- 2 of my friends have moved away. They decided that they'd had enough of Bush, and have picked up and moved to Canada. Net value = -1 friend.

- I have not had a haircut since I've moved. My hair is ridiculously long and bothersome, and yet if I blow it dry just right, it looks pretty good. I've been paying more attention to my attitude and my hair (and my clothes a little, but barely) and I've noticed guys being more friendly for the first time in my life. Not that I'm looking for that kind of attention, but it sure feels nice. Maybe I'll grow it down to my toes.

- I've always felt this way, but every day I'm reminded more and more that life is in the details. It's the little things that make me feel closer to friends. So if you ever want to write to me and tell me you have a hang nail and that you cut your finger or got a little sunburned, please drop me a line. The big stuff happens to everyone eventually. It's the little things that set us apart.

- This past weekend I saw 2 movies: "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," which was a well-intentioned heart-felt girlie movie with really poor editing but a good heart and probably most appropriate for teens, and "Crash," which was quite the opposite as a depressing, realistic, dark portrayal of racism and prejudice in Los Angeles. I really like "Crash" for its realism and for making me pensive... god knows I like to be pensive. I'm not sure, however, if it made me miss L.A. or be glad I am gone.

- My wife and I went strawberry picking on Sunday morning. It was only 20 minutes from our house. It was so hot, we only lasted a short while, but then again, how many strawberries does one need? It was just nice to something outdoorsy and the scenery was BEAUTIFUL! I really wish I had my camera with me. I couldn't describe the beauty of the farms if I tried. I could never do it justice... but if you want to see it, please visit. We'd love guests.

- I've finally experienced humidity. See my upcoming post.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Protest of the Week - June 3

OK, so I haven't been posting the Protests of the Week weekly, but the protests still happen weekly, so I'm keeping the title. This one, I was actually e-mailed about:

"As President Bush continues to push his scheme to privatize Social Security and slash benefits for middle-class families, hundreds of concerned citizens from across the country and the region will take to the streets of Washington D.C. tomorrow, Friday, June 3, 2005, at 2:30 pm and march to the White House to tell President Bush "Hands Off My Social Security."

George Bush's privatization plan would make massive cuts in Social Security benefits for future retirees and add trillions of dollars to the national debt.

By replacing our Social Security system with new private accounts, Social Security benefits will inevitably be cut—up to 46 percent for future retirees.

In addition to privatization, Bush has proposed even more benefit cuts that will slash benefits for every middle-class family that makes over $20,000. Benefit cuts are the problem, not the solution.

George Bush has admitted that privatization does not solve Social Security's solvency issues, so privatization is a sham meant to replace a guaranteed benefit with a guaranteed gamble."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Sad Truth About L.A.

The following article, copied from the Los Angeles Daily News, expresses the sentiments I have known and felt about L.A. for a long time. No matter what happens out here where I've moved, I don't think I can ever afford to come back.

Daily News link

California, off they go; can't afford a home, you know

By Mariel GarzaColumnist

Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - Today I say goodbye to Jean Dobbs, a good friend who's finally given up on housing in California. Tonight, she is planning to board a red-eye at Los Angeles International Airport and say so long to the overvalued West Coast, bound for her roots -- and her first taste of home ownership -- in North Carolina. Jean watched in dismay as the median housing price soared out of her reach in Los Angeles County and across the state. For a couple years, Jean kept thinking: "It can't keep going up." It did.

As of April, the median home price in California reached a half million dollars. The price in Los Angeles County is only slightly lower, at $485,000. The national average is $203,000.
Half a million is tough to swing for anyone, even young professionals like my friend who don't have family money or a high six-figures salary. Few people under 40 -- even white-collar professionals -- can easily come up with $100,000 as a down payment, then shell out $3,600 a month for mortgage and property tax.

Of all people, my friend Jean should have been able to afford a house. She is executive director of New Mobility, a national lifestyle magazine for people with disabilities, and its spinoff books and magazines. It's a job she does from a home office, and she could live almost anywhere.
When the reality sank in that Jean couldn't afford much more than a shack next to a cattle farm in the Central Valley or a double-wide trailer in the distant High Desert of California, she widened the scope of her search. By about 3,000 miles.

I am sad to see Jean go. But -- I'm chagrined to say -- the same forces that priced her out of this market are making me rich. Well, maybe not really rich like billionaires Eli Broad and Bill Gates. But rich compared with the former me: a poor kid who grew up a no-savings, credit-card, in-debt renter. Now I am still cash poor, but land rich. Jean was still thinking about home ownership in the abstract three years ago when my family decided that it was time for me to buy and loaned me the down payment. I was literally just in time. A few months after I bought my modest two-bedroom house a few blocks from Dodger Stadium, I could no longer afford my neighborhood.

After eight months, my house had gained $83,000 in value. Two years later, $125,000. By now, I have so much home equity that I could probably sell my house and use the proceeds to modestly live out the rest of my life loafing around the beaches of some third-world country.
Simply by my good timing, I am a "have" in California, while my friend on the same rung of the socioeconomic ladder is a "have not." Jean's not my only friend in this situation. I could pen a long list of friends and colleagues -- young and creative professionals all -- who despair of ever having the means to afford that particular slice of American pie as long as they remain in California.

Jean's new house in Wilmington, N.C., is a sweet, yellow building more than 150 years old. It's an officially designated historic home with a plaque of its history mounted next to the front door. The two-story house has stained-glass windows and gables and polished wood floors. The quiet street just off her front stoop is made of cobblestone, and it leads to the Cape Fear River two blocks away. The warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean are 10 miles away. For all this, Jean paid less than $300,000 -- in fact, within $3,000 of what I paid for my tiny stucco house in a now-hip former barrio.

Prices like this may be one of the reasons why North Carolina's population has become one of the fastest-growing in the country, much of it because of people moving in from other states. Jean picked Wilmington because she decided it was revitalizing -- thanks to affordable prices, a charming downtown and the relocation of some white-collar employers. The mild weather and lush landscapes probably didn't hurt either.

On those hot smoggy days in Los Angeles, when I'm fighting traffic to get to the crowded grocery store and trying to avoid road-raging drivers who might be packing, it's tempting to follow Jean's example and get out. But it's a heavy decision. I know that if I leave, it will be a very long time -- if ever -- before I can afford to come back.

Mariel Garza

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

My Shadow

My shadow is following me, and it's being more persistent than normal. I can't seem to shake it. I've been told to embrace it. I don't know what to do with it. It might be time for another one of those rare conversations with G-d.

Misc. Ugh

No big stories to write about, so here's a mish mosh of the weekend:

Had a Memorial weekend BBQ at our home on Sunday. We had a nice showing of 10 people, which I consider quite sizeable considering 3 people couldn't make it and we really don't know that many people in the area.

Apparently, DC doesn't have "BBQ's", they have "cook-outs". I know this, because my wife and her partner spent most of Monday responding to "disorderly cook-out" calls, and getting a whole lot of free food in the process!

I must have insanely acclimated, as every day this weekend has been a split of beautiful warm sunshine and sudden unexpected showers. Yesterday, we mostly had showers in the afternoon, and I spent the day running errands in 60 degree heavy rains wearing only shorts, a T-shirt, and sandals. I wouldn't have been caught dead doing that in L.A.!

Had another deep conversation with a friend. As mentioned in a past posting, conversation is VERY important to me. It fulfills some kind of place in me that nothing else quite touches. Of course, it also left me feeling empty in some ways, and pensive yet again. Very, very pensive. In a kind of lonely, sad way. I've got so much on my mind these days, and so little I feel I can talk about. Ugh. It can just eat you up inside!

Friday, May 27, 2005


Yesterday, I arrived home to the sight of a tree trimming crew. My neighbor decided after 40 years that this was the year his (quite healthy, mind you) white oak tree was going to fall over onto his house. He apparently hired the first company that knocked on his door and said "Hi, we cut down trees, would you like one removed?" He said yes.

Somewhere in the process, he agreed to get rid of not 1, but 2 trees. He was going to get rid of a 3rd when his son (god bless him) insisted that he didn't. One of the trees was just barely on his property line (or I would have tied myself to it to prevent its demise). The other was in his backyard, but one which blocked the view of his house from ours. These trees were no small things. I'm guessing 40-50 feet tall. When I arrived home, there was a pile of mulch over 5 feet tall in front of my neighbor's house. They decided to use a chipper without having a bin to dump it in. On top of that, they made the mistake of doing this while my wife was home. And they dumped the leaves and mulch on the area between our homes where my wife bought 5,000 pounds (no exaggeration) of dirt to fill in and flatten the ground, and where she has been carefully seeding and watering the area to grow grass for the last 4-6 weeks. They of course, killed it all. They said they would replace the soil and the seed, but there's no way to replace the 4-6 good weeks of rain, or our water bill.

Then, mistake #2. They asked my wife if she wanted some of the tree for firewood. Now, we haven't made one single fire since we moved, but we have a very large wood pile accumulating... and yet she said yes. Then she made the mistake of leaving. By the time I came home, there was a 50 foot tree cut into full 250lb. logs filling our back yard. Not exactly fire wood, since it took at least 2 people to barely push and roll EACH of them on the ground. They gave us the ENTIRE tree, because they didn't want to haul it away. Of course, our neighbor was also upset because they charged him a removal fee and since they weren't removing it, he didn't want to pay... but the crew insisted. My wife came home and yelled the crew into submission, as this was clearly not firewood and not at all what she asked for, or what was discussed. As I collapsed last night from my migraine headache to the sound of chainsaws cutting apart the wood in our backyard, I dreamed of the new tree or bush or hedge we could plant in its place. Anything to stop the sun from reflecting off the now bright house next door and into my pounding eyes!

It's funny. You move to a nice woodsy area, then chop all the trees down. It sickens me. The neighbor mentioned that the previous owners to our house knocked down all our trees, and said it was too bad he couldn't knock down the trees in the other neighbor's yard as well. In fact, his neighbor on the other side also bought into this door-to-door tree "trimming" service and will be cutting down one of his trees as well. Shame! So, I had 4 months to admire how nice it was not to need fences at every section of our homes, like everyone does in California... and now I suddenly have visions of the billions of ways we can put something up to keep our neighbors out. I don't mind no fences, but natural barriers and woodsy feelings were nice. I don't really want to stare into his aluminum siding anymore. Not only an annoyance, but highly disappointing. Some people just don't have a lot of sense.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The "DISLIKE" Stamp

Have you ever bought a pack of the Post Office's "LOVE" stamps, perhaps for a special occasion such as a wedding or Mother's Day? I have... and the darn things only come in 20-packs. Does anyone else ever feel a poke in the gut when you have to plop one of those silly "I LOVE YOU" stamps on a letter that just isn't deserving? I'm sure there are worse cases than mine, but I'm reminded every once in a while... like when I'm paying a Comcast bill, for example.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Third-Life Crisis

I think I must be having my Third-Life Crisis. Not my third crisis, but 1/3 of life crisis. I'm finding the phrase, "at this age..." creeping into my conversations more frequently. Yesterday, my bad knee was acting up especially strongly. I went on a bike ride for the first time in years. I think I have some torn cartilage, which I apparently aggravated. So, I was telling a friend how I needed to go see an Orthopedist because "at this age..." She started to tell me to (basically) shut up, that I'm not that old, when I informed her that she misunderstood. What I was going to say was that at this age, I shouldn't have to suffer in this much pain... because I'm too young. But I knew why she thought I was heading in the other direction.

I don't really feel old in general. But, I do think I'm having my third-life crisis. As I posted before, I'm bursting out of my 20's shell and craving a return to my youth... In general, that makes me feel relatively young. But darn it, when I get a paper cut, it just doesn't heal as fast. And the fact that I now have to be careful because I have a bad back, and I have to walk easy on my bad knee, and I have more than my fair share of cluster headaches... well, things just aren't the same at my age any more. I ache after just a little exercise, the hair is turning silver, the kids are looking younger these days... and that gosh darn music they play is WAY TOO LOUD!! Kids don't have the same respect they did "when I was that age..." Sigh. That's another phrase I find myself saying and hating myself for it.

I find more meetings with friends involve "remembering when..." as opposed to creating new memories. And that's wonderful in some ways, but gosh darn depressing in others. I want to live the memories, get out and see the world, or at least my own backyard.

I wonder if this is what it's like in your 40's and 50's, when people start buying sports cars and speak phrases like "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." If it's just an exaggeration of how I feel now, then I totally understand! Don't get me wrong. I'm not depressed about it. I'm seeing it as an opportunity. I may have missed the craziness and fun of the 20's, but I'm getting a 10+ year head-start on my 40's and 50's. Now I just have to decide where to start...

Monday, May 16, 2005

My Letter to Comcast

My letter to Comcast, detailing the fun experiences I’ve had. Brackets [ ] are mine… why I’m protecting anyone, beats me! Italicized comments are just for fun. (Ellipses… added where there is additional, [more?] uninteresting drivel.)

Dear [Customer Liaison Advocate] -

I spoke to you a while ago after filing a complaint with the County Cable Commission. I described the problems we had, and you asked me to send you an email with the sequence of events and people we talked to throughout the problems…

This is in regards to the account listed under phone number [blah blah blah], which is my cell phone. At the time we signed up with Comcast, we did not have a home phone. The home phone number is now [bleh bleh bleh], and it is a broadband phone line, hooked up through our cable modem.

We signed up for Cable service on Thursday, Feb. 17. I spoke with [Representative 1]… She told us we could get a special deal of digital cable on 2 televisions, with HBO & Showtime on both, as well as cable internet, for [great price] per month. She scheduled the technician to come on Monday, Feb. 21 between 8am-11am for installation and told us to pay [great price] at the time of install.

A contractor cable intaller arrived at 10:30am Feb. 21. He said we were his first call of the day. He hooked up 1 TV and the internet modem. We did not want cable wires going around the house to the 2nd TV and asked if we could have it go through the wall. He said that would be a "custom install" for about $50 and to call Comcast to arrange it. Throughout his installation, he kept using our California cell phone because he did not have either a cell phone or a radio to call his dispatcher. He racked up over 30 minutes of usage in the 2+ hours he was at our home. The picture on the 1st TV he installed was fuzzy, and he said that we would also require a "booster" from the telephone line to fix the problem. It took him a long time to complete the install, and he was running late. (Gee, I wonder if anyone else can guess how a technician could be running late when he shows up at 10:30am for his first call of the day, even though the window for his arrival begins at 8am). He left the house with a cable wire going through the hallways from our basement to the next floor, a faceplate in the wall removed, and the fuzzy cable picture, as well as leaving some of his equipment, including the cable spool, in the house. We stopped him at his truck, he came back up to clean up the spool and replace the faceplate, and said he was running late, so he would try to come back after 5pm that night to see what he could do to try and make the picture clearer. He took the work order (which confirmed we owed [great price] for 2 TV's and 1 cable internet modem) with him because he said he would bring it back. After he left, I called Comcast to schedule the "custom install" for the 2nd TV, and Comcast informed me that there was no such thing, they didn't do custom installs. Comcast also informed me that there is no reason we would need a booster and that we should have a clear picture. The first installer never returned that night and we called Comcast to have someone finish the installation and fix the picture. We spoke to customer service rep. [Rep. 2], who should be praised as one of the nicest and most helpful employees we dealt with during this entire ordeal... She arranged for a new appointment the following day, Tues. Feb. 22, for another person to come between 2-5pm. She also told us we shouldn't let the next person leave until we were completely satisfied with the installation.

On Feb. 22, the next contractor (again, not a Comcast employee) arrived at 5:30pm. We informed him he was late. He was already upset because they added our call to his roster and he was not originally supposed to come to our house, he said. He also mentioned that he didn’t like to have to come and clean up somebody else’s mess. He DID have a radio, and was constantly on the radio yelling at his dispatcher for sending him to our house. He fixed the fuzzy TV problem, by saying that the first person had switched the In and Out cables. He also hooked up the 2nd TV without the custom install, by stringing the cable wires over doors. He had several problems with this and also didn't get the TV's working well at first, so he continued to yell at the dispatcher, and began to yell at us, too, because the install was taking a long time and he was now going to be late for subsequent jobs. He started to drag his wooden spool (with the metal nut on top) across our hardwood floors in anger, and got in my roommate's face and yelled at her. This was not only unprofessional, but dangerous, and he continued even after recognizing that she was a police officer. In addition, he did a sloppy job on the installation and we asked him to fix it. He refused and yelled at his dispatcher some more and said he was going to leave. We told him that we were told not to let him leave until we were satisfied. He said he was going to call Comcast. We said fine, we would call Comcast as well, and proceeded to call [Rep. 2 again] at Customer Service. While on hold, he went out to his truck and drove off. Again, he took the work order with him.

After trying to get the situation resolved (my notes weren't as good back then), we finally spoke to [Big Wig] at Comcast on Friday, Feb. 25. He promised he would fix the situation by having someone clean up the mess left behind, and he would send a Comcast employee to our house on Monday, Feb. 28 at 4pm. On Monday, they called and said they weren't going to make it on time, and could we reschedule for Tuesday at 4:30pm. The Comcast technician came on Tues. March 1 and corrected the problems, we believed.

On Tues., March 8, we then started to get an error [Misc. Error Message] when using our On Demand feature on one of the televisions. Comcast [The ever-helpful Rep. 2 again] scheduled a technician to come on Wed. March 9 between 12pm and 4pm. [Tech. 4] came. When he arrived, the modem was working and I had a picture on both television sets. Only On Demand wasn't working. Within a half hour, my modem and both television sets all stopped working. He said it was a weak signal from the pole and a coincidence it happened while he was there, and that we would need a line technician and he was going to leave it that way. Because of this, we also lost access to our phone and I missed a telephone job interview. I told him he couldn't leave until the phone and internet were working because if it was a choice between the internet and TV, I needed the internet. The only reason we went with Comcast was because they have a monopoly on internet service in our area. "Magically", after a while at our house, the TV and internet all started working, but he warned us he didn't do anything to fix it and it was coincidence it went out and would probably go out again.

At some point in the beginning of April, we received our first bill which, despite having the credit for the Ontime Guarantee and a credit for the 1st month (because of the poor service, as promised by [Big Wig]), showed a monthly rate of [NOT great rate], rather than [great rate]. I spoke to [Rep. 3] regarding the bill and explained the rate we got from [Rep.1] on Feb. 22. She said we could ignore this bill and the next bill would show the proper credits for this bill. She said she adjusted it in the computer to show our proper monthly rate. Later in April, we received a new bill, showing our credit, but by this point I had already spoken to you [Customer Liaison Advocate] about our subsequent problems, and you told me that we would be discussing subsequent credits and to talk to you to figure out the bill and how much would be owed. So, I did not pay since at the time I received it since the situation had still not been resolved. I now received a PAST DUE bill on Friday, May 13 reflecting only 1 ON TIME GUARANTEE credit, but not credit for all of our lost operation time, which I will detail below…

MORE PROBLEMS: On Sunday, April 10, we noticed our phone wasn't working because the modem was not working. I called Comcast from my cell phone and spoke to a male representative [Rep. 5 or so]. He tried to have me unplug the modem and reset it and nothing worked, so he set up an appointment for Monday, April 11 1pm-5pm for someone to come look at it. I asked for the representative's name, and suddenly we were disconnected. The next day, my roommate took off work to be home and available. No one ever showed up. On Monday evening, I spoke to [Rep.6], a supervisor [Supervisor 1], and eventually [Supervisor 2]. They told me I did not have an appointment scheduled for Monday, that there was no record of me calling on Sunday to schedule it, and that it would take a couple of days to get another appointment. At this point my internet had been down over 2 days. They eventually figured out that when I called to adjust my first bill, Comcast re-set my modem settings and this is what caused the problem. They re-set my settings again and the modem worked fine again for 1 night. The next day, Tues., April 12, I noticed I lost premium channels on 1 of the 2 TV sets. I was told at first by [I.T. guy] in I.T. that it was down in the area, and later by [Rep. 7] that she couldn't help me. Eventually I was told that my package only included premium channels on 1 TV and that when they re-set the modem, they re-programmed my service so that only 1 TV would get premium channels. I was told that I was lucky I ever got premium channels on 2 television sets and I never should have been receiving it for the rate I was quoted. The next day, Wed. April 13, my modem was out again. On this day, I spoke to [Poor Guy who Deals with Comcast Complaints] at the cable commission since Comcast had not been able to resolve my problems and I had been without complete service for over 4 days.

I also spoke to [Rep. 8] at 7:15pm to try and fix the internet connection. He was trying to talk me through, said we would have to reset and hang up the phone, and then he would call me back. He called me back once, then we had to do it again, and the second time he never called back. At that point, I called back and spoke to [Rep. 9] at Comcast, who tried to get my modem working by talking me through things, and eventually I spoke to [Rep. 8] again. [Rep. 8] got it working temporarily, then told me he arranged a [ticket] for a 4-day service credit... He said we would receive a credit of the monthly bill divided by 30 days, times the number of days of interrupted service. Actually, your Comcast Service agreement states "If the Service is not repaired at the time of the scheduled appointment, the Subscriber will receive a credit of 10% of the Subscriber's normal bill for each 24-hour period, or segment thereof, that the Service Interruption continues beyond the scheduled repair call." At 12:18 am (that night), we lost internet service again. I spoke to [Rep. 10] and after 30 minutes of talking with him, we were disconnected. I called back and waited on hold for 40 minutes. I finally spoke to [Rep. 11] at 1:16am. She gave me [another service ticket].

I spoke to you [Customer Liaison Advocate] for the first time on Friday, April 15. At this time, the modem was working, but it had been going on and off, and I mentioned that there was obviously a bigger problem, that the modem kept re-setting itself. In addition, you had called me to address the complaint I had filed with [Poor Guy who Deals with Comcast complaints] at the Cable commission. You asked me to write you an email with the specifics. I told you I couldn't write an email until the modem was fixed…

On Sunday, April 16, our internet (cable modem) went out AGAIN. My roommate called and left both you, and [Poor Guy who Deals with Comcast Complaints], messages. Obviously the problem wasn't resolved. I called the main Comcast number again. I spoke with [Rep. 12]. At this point, he tried to offer me an appointment the following Wed. We had now been over a week with inconsistent service, many days without service at all. We had already had one no-show 1 week previously and had been waiting long enough. Last time, my roommate took off work, and we were able to be home next business day only, not on Wed. I told him they were in violation of the Comcast Service agreement, which states "Excluding conditions beyond our control, we will respond to a service interruption no later than twenty-four hours after receipt of notification. We respond to other service problems no later than the next business day after notification." This had now been over a week without a service call and I explained this. [Rep. 12] responded by saying "In an ideal world, we try to make appointments next day... Would you be more angry if we say we don't have an appointment, or if we say we do and no one shows up?" I told him first of all that that had already happened, no one showing up. Second of all, this isn't about an ideal world, this is what you have written in your service agreement, and you are under breach of contract. I asked to speak to a supervisor. He said no one was available. I insisted and argued for over 30 minutes. I finally got supervisor [Supervisor 3]. I told her what [Rep. 12] had said, and she agreed with [Rep. 12], saying she could make an appointment for the next day, but probably no one would show up because there were no actually available appointments. She said "I just want to let you know what to expect." I told her my expectations were based on their contract. My roommate also spoke with her about a service credit, for which she said she would credit us for the entire month (30 days) because of no service. I went back on the phone and, after 50 total minutes on the phone, she set up a next-day appointment, telling me that technicians "should probably" show up between 5 and 8pm the next day, she thought they may have cleared a space. When I asked her about the service credit she promised, we were again conveniently disconnected.

On Monday, April 18, no one showed up. At 7:55pm, I was called by the dispatcher, [Dispatcher 2, really, but I don’t remember when or why I talked to Dispatcher 1 in the past], and was told the technicians were running late and just to let me know, they would be about 45 more minutes. He also said the tech. was late because I had asked for them to get to my house after 6 instead of between 5 and 6 if possible because of my work schedule. Since they said they couldn't guarantee that, I had a friend waiting at the house until I got there. [Dispatcher 2] said the tech. tried to call me, but I wouldn't answer. I said my phone didn't work because I have broadband phone service and the modem was out, which I told the customer service rep. when scheduling the appointment, and that they would have to call my cell phone. [Dispatcher 2] said they couldn't call my cell phone, because the drivers aren't allowed to call long distance. On this day, I also called you [Customer Liaison Advocate] again, to let you know what was going on. [Dispatcher 2] said even though they were late, he couldn't arrange a service credit for the ON TIME GUARANTEE because I had to call Customer Service at Comcast, because the dispatchers couldn't do it. I spoke to [Rep. 13] at Comcast who said I would get yet another $20 service credit. At 9:30pm, after still no one had showed up, I called Comcast again. I spoke to [Rep. 14], who said at this late hour, probably no one would be showing up, and he could reschedule me on Thursday (3 days later) at either 11-2pm or 2-5pm. Again, I asked for a supervisor. Again, this was in violation of the contract. I spoke with [Supervisor 4], who confirmed those were the only times I could get. I didn't take one, assuming I would speak with you again on Tuesday until I could get this resolved more quickly. I was getting ready for bed when at 10:45pm, two technicians in 2 Comcast cable vans, showed up at my door… I would not have let anyone in that late at night, totally unprofessional, but at this point it was actually Comcast technicians with actual trucks and I wanted this solved. The employees [Techs. 5 & 6] (Is that all?) did many tests, checked every connection up on the pole, from the pole to the house, and in the house. They performed a few tests. They were wonderful! The only other praise I have throughout this process. They saw the modem recycle itself, and determined this was a line problem, between Comcast and the pole, not with our modem or at the house. They said they would put in a line call, that they could not resolve the problem directly. They also gave us their personal cell phone numbers so if it went out again we could tell them and they could possibly troubleshoot the problem again.

On Tuesday, April 19, the modem went out again, we called [Techs. 5 & 6], and they said they put in a line call for Thursday, April 21. On Wednesday, April 20, [Customer Liaison Advocate] called, listened to my complaint in more detail, and also put in a line call for Thurs. March 21. [Customer Liaison Advocate] stated that you would call me back when you reached a line crew and told me to email you with the names, dates and times of my contact with Comcast, and you would help me deal with the bill later after all was fixed. (He actually asked if I had spoken to anyone at Comcast about my problems before I reached him… Hmm, 6+ techs., 14+ Reps., 4+ Supervisors, 1+ I.T. guy and 2+ Dispatchers… Yeah, I think so.) …

When your phone survey people called and asked how I liked Comcast, I told them of the terrible service and how I would never sign up if I had a choice. The response was "OK, well have a great... err, I mean, have a good day…"

(Blah, blah, blah… Blah, blah, blah… my math shows that by this point, they should be paying me to have Cable service at my house from all of the so-called credit we’ve earned. What do you think???)



Last Weekend

This past weekend I went to a Cubs-Nationals game. It was pretty fun for the most part, but now I definitely understand why they need to build a new stadium... The stairs are way too big and unsafe, the outfield is compressed, the layout is poor, and the foodstands... well, let's just say when a baseball game sells out of food before selling out of seats, it just isn't well planned.

I also cleaned off my bicycle in anticipation of Bike to Work Day this Friday. I don't think the mileage would be that bad, but it's the traffic I'm worried about. I haven't decided yet whether I think I'll risk it or not.

I had some friends in from out of town, so I got a tour of the Dupont Circle area, which was great. I think the suburbs have given me some serious city withdrawal... besides, who doesn't like being smiled at by a few cute girls? I think I was a bit too prude in my 20's, and I feel a rebellious nature now permeating. Can't wait to go clubbing! (Wow, did I just say that?)

Also went to "Taste of Wheaton," a food sampling event of one of the areas local restaurants.

And of course, the weekend would not be complete without another DC area large corporate horror story... this time it was the Metro. Because their stupid card readers do not work properly, I was held hostage at a Metro parking lot for over 45 minutes (after midnight no less!) because the parking nazis wouldn't let me out, even though I had enough money on my card. Needless to say, I also spent my weekend writing letters to Metro and Comcast Cable. The metro one isn't as interesting... my summary above is most of the extent of the problem. But the problems with Comcast are unreal. I might edit the letter a bit and post it, so keep your eyes open! :)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

No Substitute

I don't care how many different brands I've tried, there's no substitute for Post-Its. Same goes for Q-tips, Saran Wrap, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. But right now, at work, I'm wishing for some real gosh-darn Post-It brand post-its!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Turn Up the Heat

In my VERY-mini update (because details are so painful), just some more examples of how life doesn't usually go according to plan:

- My wife FINALLY graduated the academy, proving for about 1 minute how eventually you can stop getting screwed... And one minute later learning that moving 3,000 miles away to be treated better doesn't prevent you from continuing to get screwed over and over again.

- I learned that after leaving a relatively decent TV job, that my biggest childhood actor crush of ALL TIME is the new star of the show... However, I am getting much praise at my new job, so that's a small consolation. A very, very small consolation.

- Yesterday, we officially ranked 3rd and climbing in the worst traffic in the nation. Leave LA for better traffic only to hear we're gaining on them quickly (of course, not in our cars!)

- Today it was 87 degrees. I think it was cool and rainy in LA just a couple of days ago. 87 degrees is HOT. Not as hot as I'm used to, but I've started to acclimate... and now 87 is HOT!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Scout (and other pets)

Scout, my cat, finally arrived in Maryland. It's amazing how important a pet can be. She's my best non-human friend. She is so incredible, having stayed in her carrier nearly 12 hours for the flight out here, plus the drives, and then having to bear a friend's basement for a couple of days until the paint dried at the house. But she's no fraidy-cat. No drugs, no tranquilizers. She took it all in stride, and has already claimed the house as hers. It really feels much more like home when she's there. She's already scouted out the best locations, including my chest in the early morning hours. I feel so happy just seeing her lie on her back, or looking out a window. She's just so darn cute! I really lucked out with this cat, and I feel blessed to have her in my life.

Sadly, in other pet news, our desert tortoise, Touche (accent mark over the e, but I don't know how to type that here) wandered out of my parents' backyard about 2 weeks ago or so. The thing about tortoises is that they can be easy to forget and even more easily go unnoticed. So when workmen came, my folks didn't mention his existence. Touche has been in the family about 30 years. He came to us as part of an adoption/rescue program at a time when desert tortoises were endangered species. By the time I was working at the zoo, they were no longer "endangered," but "threatened," and I had then learned that he was quite possibly a she. They can live 100-150 years, and my wife took quite a liking to him. She often asked who would inherit him, since he would outlive me and my siblings. So, while he isn't the cute, cuddly pet like Scout, and doesn't create quite the equivalent void, let me tell you it's still tragic to lose a 30+ year member of the family. He's out there, practically invisible to the world. Large for a turtle, but small for a neighborhood. He can blend into rocks and the ground, and he digs deep for shelter, so he could be buried. He could also be run over by a car, eaten by a dog, or just aimlessly lost for the rest of his days.

So, if you see a big turtle walking aimlessly around the SoCal suburbs, please let me know. And in the meantime, I think I'll be going home and giving Scout a great big hug!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Company Endorsements

I have been having the worst experience with a company that I have ever had in my life with Comcast Cable. I really, truly hate Comcast. But the story is so long and painful (and still unresolved) that I didn't feel like writing about it... So I've decided instead to write about companies that I would actually endorse. Not just OK companies, but companies (or products) that are so above and beyond the competition, that when I speak of them I feel like I am doing a commercial.

Perhaps if I put it out there, maybe I'll get a paid endorsement. The only sad thing is that the list is kind of (very) short right now. But I'll let you know if I feel like expanding:

- Jet Blue: worth the drive all the way to Long Beach.

- Washington Mutual: truly free banking, and they mean it.

- America's Tire Company: free patching, excellent service every time, every location.

- Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: there is no substitute for the original Kraft Dinner.

- My eye doctor: almost worth being nearly blind temporarily so I can fly home to see the best.

- AAA: great rates, great service.

Sadly, not as many as I had hoped for, but it's a beginning.

Losing Love

Have you ever felt the ache of losing love? Silly question, I think we all have. I've been "home" where I grew up for a weekend, and I had several visits with family and friends. I have some truly amazing and special people in my life. It always takes these moments to be reminded of it, unfortunately.

I met my niece for the first time (and she is adorable!!!!), saw some high school friends, some work friends, and some long-lost relatives. I saw an old workplace and the co-workers from there, some family friends, and even a wonderful doctor of mine. I discovered that my sexuality now officially runs on both sides of the family, and I've been reminded how special my family and my wife are in the hearts and minds of others, who were kind enough to share their thoughts about these people with me.

With this great outpouring of love, I am unfortunately sometimes also reminded of lost loves along the way. The family members who have past on, the exes that didn't work out, the friends that have moved on and drifted away, the secret loves that never materialized. Even surrounded by so much love, losing love is something that never gets easier.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Birds and the Bees

Well, I've finally recovered enough from my cold to write about the Birds & the Bees, and now I'm just burned out thinking about writing to catch up for the last 2 weeks. I had a lot of ideas for this post in the past couple of weeks, but now I'm just tired, and there is so much to catch up on. However, I'll give it a shot or I'll never get to it.

Spring time finally hit Maryland, and for the first time I think I finally understand what all the fuss is about. I've heard friends from other states complain my whole adult life about how Los Angeles has no trees and no seasons. I always thought we had trees, but I really get the difference now. First of all, there are TONS of trees where I live now, partly because I am near several areas of woodlands. When I moved in the winter, it was just a ton of sticks, but lots of trees nonetheless. However, almost as if by magic overnight, they blossomed. Living near DC, we expected to go see the cherry blossoms, but little did we expect that our very own street would be lined with them. We didn't know what the trees were, so imagine our surprise to go to DC, fight the crowd of millions, and return home to our own cherry blossoms right in front of the house! Note to self: whenever we decide to sell, make sure it goes on the market right before the cherryblossoms bloom! Not only are the cherryblossoms beautiful and look like cotton candy, but there are apple blossoms, and all kinds of other assorted white, pink, yellow, red, and orange trees. It's so darn colorful it looks more like what I imagined fall to be like. And not only the trees, but the flowers. They are so vibrant they look like they were painted in place. And they bloom so quickly. Imagine my delight when the planters we were about to throw out suddenly sprouted with greenery, and tulips suddenly sprang up in the backyard too! Also, the grass is growing so fast we'll have to buy a lawnmower in the next week... We're already well overdue!

It's funny because I am writing this from Los Angeles, as I traveled home for a weekend to pick up my cat and celebrate Passover. And when I arrived in LA, suddenly it DID seem like there were a lot fewer trees, and they seemed so plain and just green. The flowers didn't seem as bold and really seemed forced. For the first time I wished I was back in Maryland. The fact that we're finally painting some rooms and making the house more for us also has helped matters, although there are people I very much miss in L.A. And I guess that for the first time in my life I finally officially lost my room completely and had to stay in the crappy small room also didn't make me want to stay in Los Angeles very long this time around. Not to say I would never want to come back, because there are many reasons I may also want that in life in the future, but spring really is incentive to be somewhere "spring-like," now that I understand the terminology. (Ask me again in August or December and we'll see how I feel about Maryland then!... But I digress.)

Back to spring... Some of the most interesting things about spring are how we have all these neighbors I didn't know existed. On the first beautiful day, suddenly all of these people are out. Kids and families are riding bicycles, people are mowing lawns, Home Depot bags of lawn waste are piled high on the curbs, everywhere you go they are selling annuals and perrenials. Everyone is planting, jogging, mowing, smiling, active... They just popped up out of nowhere! And it's not just the people, but the wildlife I've mentioned a few times before.

The other day, we were startled by the motion detector again and quickly looked outside expecting to see deer, but saw a large raccoon crawling his way over our fence. At the cherryblossom festival, I even saw my very first muskrat, chomping at the blossoms the tourists were throwing into the Tidal Basin. But mostly it's the birds. There are just so many of them. From the bright red cardinals to the black and orange birds that I'm embarrassed to admit took 2 weeks before I made the association with the baseball mascot and realized that they are Orioles. Duh! We even have a mama and papa bird outside the bedroom window that have been guarding a nest, and we are eager to see when the babies might arrive. And babies are definitely arriving. We saw a momma with her 9 baby ducks swimming in the Tidal Basin when we went to see the cherryblossoms. And when I was driving to the Costco a couple of weeks ago, I saw a a pair of geese with all of their babies in a center medium. I was worried for their safety in the middle fo the street like that, but on the way home noticed there was in fact a sign posted for duck crossing! Since we've moved here, we seen hawks and even a vulture. We even witnessed the tail end of one event which truly put the circle of life into perspective.

[Here is the point where I last saved my draft... and the computer erased the rest of my blog... Honestly, I'm too tired to recreate it all... so excuse the brevity in the rest of the post... This is why I often complain that I hate computers...]

After viewing the cherry blossoms, we were walking back along the National Mall, when we saw a crowd of people in semi-circle, hovering around something apparently interesting. As we approached, we saw a large hawk (a friend of mine said it might have been a falcon, but I'll call it a hawk for now) sitting on the ground among all the people. I never would have thought this majestic bird would be so bold as to sit among all these people, but there is was. Then people were talking on cell phones, I assumed to tell their friends about this amazing creature before us. But the conversations sounded more like this:

"Hi... you'll never guess what I just saw!... We were standing here on the Mall... We were watching this beautiful grey squirrel eating something out of the grass... All of a sudden this hawk dropped down out of the tree..."

Anyway, I had already snapped off about a half dozen pictures before I really realized what was going on! Thinking about it after the fact, I should have known that hawks don't have naturally red beaks, but I digress...

Along with the birds and the flowers, of course, come the bees. And we have several bees swarming the entrances to our home, just to make sitting out on the deck a major challenge. The bees, like I'm told of most insects out here, are very large. These gigantic bumblebees look like relatives of "The Fly." But the birds and the bees, for the good and the bad, make springtime truly special. Of all the things we've seen so far, I think spring has been the most amazing experience I've had since we moved.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


So, I still haven't gotten around to writing the post I want to. But I promise it's coming. It's in my head. Unfortunately, also in my head at this time is a lot of congestion and a darn nasty cold. I hate being sick. I think this is the longest srtretch I've ever had in my life without being sick. It might have been since last May the last time I had a cold, if I remember correctly. Anyway, I haven't felt up to thinking about writing, or doing much of anything, and I'm trying to recover a bit so I can fly back to L.A. next week and pick up my beloved cat.

So here's a quick entry, another protest of the week. Leave it to DC to finally have a baseball team after 34 years, and still have a protest about it. People standing outside the stadium on opening night were protesting the money being spent on the team, rather than on schools and children. I personally am happy to have a team to be behind for once, since I never took a liking to the Lakers or the Dodgers or the Raiders or the Rams. L.A. teams never had an appeal for me. So I've become a self-declared Nationals fan. Yes, the new team is called the Washington Nationals. And they are up 3-0 in their home opener series! They used to be the Senators way back when. But I guess when a district has a protest even on it's license plate stating "Washington D.C. - Taxation Without Representation," it would be a bit ironic to call them the Washington Senators this time around.

Anyway, back to rest. I will try to get around to the new post as soon as I feel better and have the time. It's exciting. It's about spring. Keep reading...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Protest of the Week - Week of April 11

I was hoping to have a more interesting post, and indeed I already know what I really want to write about. I'm just so gosh-darn tired I haven't put it together yet! So, I'm hoping I'll have the energy to write the more interesting stuff tomorrow... check back soon!

In the meantime, I give you this week's Protest of the Week:

(After spending a wonderful night patrolling RFK stadium after the Opening Night home game of the new DC baseball team, the Washington Nationals, my wife will spend the weekend monitoring activity surrounding this protest.)

World Bank-IMF Protests Set This Week
By Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, April 13, 2005; Page B03

Opponents of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund announced yesterday that they would stage two days of protests to coincide with annual meetings the two institutions will host beginning Friday. The organizers said the highlight will be a demonstration Saturday outside the World Bank's downtown headquarters, followed by a march to Dupont Circle.

... [Sen] said the demonstrations have created a substantial movement for change at the two 61-year old institutions, which protesters say promote policies that foster poverty and inequality. "We are not a fad. We are a movement," he said.


As in the past, the organizers list four demands: that the bank open board meetings to the media; that it cancel the debts of impoverished countries; that it stop financing "environmentally and socially destructive" projects; and that it stop "imposing harmful economic conditions" on countries.

for the full article, visit:

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Most Miserable Person on Earth

Today I've discovered that I'm the most miserable person on earth. At least, it's been brought to my attention that's what many people think of me. It's funny, because I don't feel that way. I think most of my life I haven't been great at emoting what I feel deep down, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I've been misinterpreted again. Today a friend of mine called and asked how everything was going. By the time I was done telling him, he said that I sounded depressed. My wife has been saying that as well. Yet, I don't feel depressed. Sure, there is nothing dynamic going on at the moment, but that does not mean I'm depressed. It just means life is moving on. I think I've only had one friend my entire life who really got me, understood what was really going on deep beneath the surface. Unfortunately, it seems, we've drifted apart. But the thing that was understood was that sometimes the things I take joy in are simple, and don't express well in conversation. And sometimes the most conversational topics are the least interesting.

For example, my wife thinks I hate where I've moved. Frankly, I think I could live most anywhere. Day to day life is the same most places I feel I could wind up. Get up, go to work, eat, do laundry, watch TV, go to sleep, get up the next morning, and do it all over again. When I said that's mostly what I've been doing, I got the usual sympathetic reaction. As if most people don't do these things? But the differences come in the details.

The weather: I said I was looking forward to spring and that I was cold. I never said I was depressed. I never said I hated the winter. But I do get cold and, like MOST of the people here, I'm ready for it to warm up. And once it gets sweltering in mid-summer, I will then be hoping for it to cool down, like most people. I enjoy the beauty of a snowfall, the colors of the fall, the warm sun on my face, the blooming of the flowers. I appreciate them all, and yet I don't think wanting to be a nice, cozy 72 degrees with a slight breeze for the majority of the time makes me unusual, or makes me depressed when I don't have it.

Work: First of all, I haven't even mentioned in my blogs to date that I even got work. I did. In fact, it was the first interview I went on when I arrived that offered me a position. And as expected, the job is not in my previous field. I told my friend the best thing about the job was the commute, and other than that it is just a job. Again, that's true. I wish I were fortunate enough to have a job that I love. Many people have that, and many others don't. My job is a) not very exciting, b) not using my abilities to their past, present, or future potential, c) paying the bills, and mostly just the bills. I would love to love my job. Since most of my waking hours are spent there, that would be incredible, no doubt. But if I'm not going to love my job, there is something else I want from it. I want to stop living to work, and begin working to live. That is one of the benefits of the job I found. I found a job close to work. I thought with all of the public transportation out here, that commuting would be easier than L.A., but I've found traffic out here to be just as much of a nightmare. In fact, I work with a guy who commutes 7 hours round trip every day. No, I'm not making that up. He must love HIS job! But my commute is relatively short. I work for a boss who recognized potential talent on a resume even with no background in his industry. I work for a company who treats their employees as adults, and has an admirable sick/holiday/vacation policy unlike any I've ever seen. So, I will continue to look for work that I will love, and that may or not pay me more to love it, but I will see this as an opportunity to have a life outside of work, and that's not too depressing, is it? (Now, I will admit that I haven't quite figured out what I want of this life outside of work, and that can indeed be a drag, but that's not necessarily depressing, and it's definitely its own blog for another time.)

Activities: I said daily I mostly just go to work, come home, sleep. I don't call people too often, have barely called anyone in fact since I've moved. Guess I haven't felt there is much to talk about. Those are just daily routine activities. Same as in L.A. or anywhere else. But don't get me wrong. We do get out. Heck, since I've lived here, I've gone to Baltimore twice, Philadelphia once, visited Calvert County in the far south of Maryland, been to Virginia, driven by the Pentagon, walked through the National Air & Space museum, been to the National Zoo, walked to the Jefferson Monument on the Tidal Basin to see the cherryblossoms in bloom(they haven't bloomed yet, but waiting until next weekend to try again - see, they don't like the cold & rain either!), saw the National Cherryblossom kite festival in front of the Washington Monument, visited Ford's Theater (where Lincoln was shot) and the Peterson House (where Lincoln died), went to the International Spy Museum, visited a Super Pet Expo in Dulles, and of course made more trips with less success to the Home Depot than anyone else I know. I've also had my car into the shop 3 times in the just less than 2 months I've lived here.

But as exciting as these activities are, they never seem like good conversation topics. I don't tend to remember all of the history or information most people want to hear about when they talk about such places or events. I usually remember that a butterfly flew past when we were walking up that hill, that a breeze almost pushed me into oncoming traffic as we waited for a signal to change, that a lady read a paper on the metro and from the headline I knew it was 2 months old. I feel and think and often live in my head. I cherish my thoughts and feelings as deep, but private. Sometimes their significance or emotion feels muted once I've let them outside of that personal space. I think that's why I often prefer writing to talking. When I write I don't feel like I've always let the cat out of the bag, even if I have just as much if not more so.

So, no, I don't think I'm depressed. Could I be happier? Heck, there's always room to be happier. But really the most depressing thing of all is to be so darn misunderstood. And if being misunderstood can make you miserable, than perhaps everyone is right about me. I'm the most miserable person on earth.