domingo, julho 31, 2005
in the meantime, what's your favorite line from sex and the city? mine is "sir, we're talking up-the-butt here. i think a cigarrette is in order."
quinta-feira, julho 28, 2005
quarta-feira, julho 27, 2005
but i liked it. i'm an animal person & i like dogs. i totally fell in love with a little bulldog named bum-bum. i was never much of a bulldog person before, but then again, i'd never hung around one. they're actually totally adorable in a grunting, drooling, snorting, wrinkly sort of way.
i got home and ceci had plenty to sniff. she didn't seem happy about my "cheating" on her. but she'll get over it. it would be great if i could take her to work, but the incessant barking would be a problem. she hates other dogs.
what should i do? should i take the job? or just suck it up and keep taking a little help from my parents and spend the time sleeping or studying? i'd really like to get back to supporting myself, but i don't want to sacrifice my grades (which aren't all that stellar to begin with!)
segunda-feira, julho 25, 2005
my first problem with this was the daughter wasn't even around while the mom was drinking. and if she was, she probably would have thought it was pretty damn cool. suddenly your stay at home soccer mom is partying it up? what 19 year old isn't going to like that? in fact, mom seemed like she was probably a load of fun while tipsy - dancing with strange men at bars, trying to get her uptight wet blanket husband to go for a little late night dip in the pool. what mom should have done was attend little princess's parties and start dancing on tables and then blow chunks all over daughter's bathroom floor. oh yeah, that would have not been cool. but she didn't do that. she got drunk on her own time and you could tell that when daughter came over to mom's house and saw her mom sleeping in, hungover, she was more amused than anything else.
i also thought it was stupid the way the mom just jumped right into it, being 43 and all. did she really expect to drink like a 20 year old on her first try? i'm not even going to attempt that without a little time to build up my tolerance. consistent, heavy drinking takes practice, much like this exercise thing i've heard people do. there's a reason mom was hurting while daughter bragged about how drunk she got the night before and was feeling perfectly fine. but i must say that mom was doing pretty well by the end of the month, really hitting her stride.
if you ask me, the parents should cut the daughter off a little bit and make her get a job - less time to party. make her pay her own bills, pay her cell phone bill (which, judging by the amount of time this girl spent on it during the show, i'd say it's probably pretty high), come up with the money to get her really bad dye jobs and pay her own damn sorority fees. seriously, the girl has no responsibility and no expectations on her, so naturally she's going to jump right into the role of party girl.
i was amused by the mom's change and the family's reaction to her (except for the daughter, who didn't really seem to care). mom mentioned that she got married right out of high school, so never got to experience the whole college partying thing. and judging from the way she appeared to get into it, she may have needed a little cutting loose. but of course, her passive aggressive husband had to comment on how she was falling behind in her duties like cleaning toilets and taking out the trash and carting the kids around to their activities. gross. drink it up, mom! make the asshole iron his own damn shirts for a change. but no, she just had her mom come in and take over all the laundry duties, while judgmentally glowering in the corner. you just sit there in your corner mating your socks, granma, and let momma have her alky-hol!
i also thought that mom may have gone a little beyond binge drinking. when i think of "binge" drinking, i think of going out and getting drunk on occasion. you know, you go out to get drunk but you're not necessarily drinking all the time. in college, this could mean almost everyday, but not necessarily. the daughter said she went out thur-sat, which is pretty normal. but mom was having multiple cocktails at all hours. who goes out to lunch with their 60 year old mother and orders kamikazes? come to think of it, i didn't think kamikazes were allowed to be sold before dark! then mom went on a 4-day bender with her party buddy, another middle aged woman who seemed to be much more experienced in the art of having a good time.
insert the sound of a record screeching to a halt as mom gets into a drunken conversation with some random hipster girl at a college kegger and learns about "roofies." suddenly the party's over for mom and she has to go around spoiling everyone's buzz and showing her age by asking all the kiddies about "those date rape drugs." i know it happens, but to hear of it, you'd think that there were whole legions of creepy lecherous guys out there, spiking drinks left and right with powerful pharmaceuticals that will take out any generic-looking late teen/early 20-something woman*. seriously, where does this happen? frat parties? really lame dance clubs? then don't go there. hang out with people that are cool and you trust. go to some decent bars, some place you would never find a real world cast. a place that doesn't advertise $1 'kazes or jello shots would be a good start. if mom was really worried about daughter getting drunk and date raped, she'd teach her the cardinal rules of binge drinking: 1) if you want to hook up, find your hook-up early so you at least stand a chance of catching his first name before morning; 2) if you don't want to hook up, make sure your girlfriends know this and make them swear to get you home to your own bed, alone; 3) an alternate to #2 is to bring a trusted guy friend who will chase off all unwanted late night drunken hook ups; 4) the key to succeeding in #2 or 3 is making sure at least one of your "caretakers" is someone with decent common sense and less of a propensity toward idiotic, slovenly drunkenness - this person is probably also going to be your designated driver, assuming you actually have one.
in the end, mom just upset her young son, who swore he wasn't going to drink. yeah, we'll see how well that works out in about 3 years. daughter was unfazed & mom admitted daughter was a lost cause, then there was some tearful words about how daughter has so much going for her and mom doesn't want her to get hurt, blah blah blah, blubber blubber blubber. once again, let her support herself for awhile. she'll probably continue to drink, but at least she'll have earned the privilege, which brings with it a certain amount of pride. and everyone knows that a drink tastes soooo much better after a long shift at the denny's or folding 8000 shirts at the gap or a shitty week temping.
*in my early 20's, i could binge drink with the best of them and i ingested my roofies by choice. i never blacked out or had sex with anyone i didn't want to have sex with. except once, but only alcohol was involved. i had the rohypnol-beer-pot combo a few times and never had a problem. though i know some people have a low tolerance for pain killers, tranquilizers and anti-anxiety drugs. those people can just send their 'scripts on over to me, thank you.
Despite Costco's impressive record, Mr. Sinegal's salary is just $350,000, although he also received a $200,000 bonus last year. That puts him at less than 10 percent of many other chief executives, though Costco ranks 29th in revenue among all American companies.
July 17, 2005
How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart
JIM SINEGAL, the chief executive of Costco Wholesale, the nation's fifth-largest retailer, had all the enthusiasm of an 8-year-old in a candy store as he tore open the container of one of his favorite new products: granola snack mix. "You got to try this; it's delicious," he said. "And just $9.99 for 38 ounces."
Some 60 feet away, inside Costco's cavernous warehouse store here in the company's hometown, Mr. Sinegal became positively exuberant about the 87-inch-long Natuzzi brown leather sofas. "This is just $799.99," he said. "It's terrific quality. Most other places you'd have to pay $1,500, even $2,000."
But the pièce de résistance, the item he most wanted to crow about, was Costco's private-label pinpoint cotton dress shirts. "Look, these are just $12.99," he said, while lifting a crisp blue button-down. "At Nordstrom or Macy's, this is a $45, $50 shirt."
Combining high quality with stunningly low prices, the shirts appeal to upscale customers - and epitomize why some retail analysts say Mr. Sinegal just might be America's shrewdest merchant since Sam Walton.
But not everyone is happy with Costco's business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to Costco's customers but to its workers as well.
Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."
Mr. Sinegal begs to differ. He rejects Wall Street's assumption that to succeed in discount retailing, companies must pay poorly and skimp on benefits, or must ratchet up prices to meet Wall Street's profit demands.
Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco's customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers' expense. "This is not altruistic," he said. "This is good business."
He also dismisses calls to increase Costco's product markups. Mr. Sinegal, who has been in the retailing business for more than a half-century, said that heeding Wall Street's advice to raise some prices would bring Costco's downfall.
"When I started, Sears, Roebuck was the Costco of the country, but they allowed someone else to come in under them," he said. "We don't want to be one of the casualties. We don't want to turn around and say, 'We got so fancy we've raised our prices,' and all of a sudden a new competitor comes in and beats our prices."
At Costco, one of Mr. Sinegal's cardinal rules is that no branded item can be marked up by more than 14 percent, and no private-label item by more than 15 percent. In contrast, supermarkets generally mark up merchandise by 25 percent, and department stores by 50 percent or more.
"They could probably get more money for a lot of items they sell," said Ed Weller, a retailing analyst at ThinkEquity.
But Mr. Sinegal warned that if Costco increased markups to 16 or 18 percent, the company might slip down a dangerous slope and lose discipline in minimizing costs and prices.
Mr. Sinegal, whose father was a coal miner and steelworker, gave a simple explanation. "On Wall Street, they're in the business of making money between now and next Thursday," he said. "I don't say that with any bitterness, but we can't take that view. We want to build a company that will still be here 50 and 60 years from now."
IF shareholders mind Mr. Sinegal's philosophy, it is not obvious: Costco's stock price has risen more than 10 percent in the last 12 months, while Wal-Mart's has slipped 5 percent. Costco shares sell for almost 23 times expected earnings; at Wal-Mart the multiple is about 19.Mr. Dreher said Costco's share price was so high because so many people love the company. "It's a cult stock," he said.
Emme Kozloff, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company, faulted Mr. Sinegal as being too generous to employees, noting that when analysts complained that Costco's workers were paying just 4 percent toward their health costs, he raised that percentage only to 8 percent, when the retail average is 25 percent.
"He has been too benevolent," she said. "He's right that a happy employee is a productive long-term employee, but he could force employees to pick up a little more of the burden."
Mr. Sinegal says he pays attention to analysts' advice because it enforces a healthy discipline, but he has largely shunned Wall Street pressure to be less generous to his workers.
"When Jim talks to us about setting wages and benefits, he doesn't want us to be better than everyone else, he wants us to be demonstrably better," said John Matthews, Costco's senior vice president for human resources.
With his ferocious attention to detail and price, Mr. Sinegal has made Costco the nation's leading warehouse retailer, with about half of the market, compared with 40 percent for the No. 2, Sam's Club. But Sam's is not a typical runner-up: it is part of the Wal-Mart empire, which, with $288 billion in sales last year, dwarfs Costco.
But it is the customer, more than the competition, that keeps Mr. Sinegal's attention. "We're very good merchants, and we offer value," he said. "The traditional retailer will say: 'I'm selling this for $10. I wonder whether I can get $10.50 or $11.' We say: 'We're selling it for $9. How do we get it down to $8?' We understand that our members don't come and shop with us because of the fancy window displays or the Santa Claus or the piano player. They come and shop with us because we offer great values."
Costco was founded with a single store in Seattle in 1983; it now has 457 stores, mostly in the United States, but also in Canada, Britain, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. Wal-Mart, by contrast, had 642 Sam's Clubs in the United States and abroad as of Jan. 31.Costco's profit rose 22 percent last year, to $882 million, on sales of $47.1 billion. In the United States, its stores average $121 million in sales annually, far more than the $70 million for Sam's Clubs. And the average household income of Costco customers is $74,000 - with 31 percent earning over $100,000.
One reason the company has risen to the top and stayed there is that Mr. Sinegal relentlessly refines his model of the warehouse store - the bare-bones, cement-floor retailing space where shoppers pay a membership fee to choose from a limited number of products in large quantities at deep discounts. Costco has 44.6 million members, with households paying $45 a year and small businesses paying $100.
A typical Costco store stocks 4,000 types of items, including perhaps just four toothpaste brands, while a Wal-Mart typically stocks more than 100,000 types of items and may carry 60 sizes and brands of toothpastes. Narrowing the number of options increases the sales volume of each, allowing Costco to squeeze deeper and deeper bulk discounts from suppliers.
"He's a zealot on low prices," Ms. Kozloff said. "He's very reticent about finagling with his model."
Despite Costco's impressive record, Mr. Sinegal's salary is just $350,000, although he also received a $200,000 bonus last year. That puts him at less than 10 percent of many other chief executives, though Costco ranks 29th in revenue among all American companies.
"I've been very well rewarded," said Mr. Sinegal, who is worth more than $150 million thanks to his Costco stock holdings. "I just think that if you're going to try to run an organization that's very cost-conscious, then you can't have those disparities. Having an individual who is making 100 or 200 or 300 times more than the average person working on the floor is wrong."
There is little love lost between Wal-Mart and Costco. Wal-Mart, for example, boasts that its Sam's Club division has the lowest prices of any retailer. Mr. Sinegal emphatically dismissed that assertion with a one-word barnyard epithet. Sam's might make the case that its ketchup is cheaper than Costco's, he said, "but you can't compare Hunt's ketchup with Heinz ketchup."
Still, Costco is feeling the heat from Sam's Club. When Sam's began to pare prices aggressively several years ago, Costco had to shave its prices - and its already thin profit margins - ever further.
"Sam's Club has dramatically improved its operation and improved the quality of their merchandise," said Mr. Dreher, the Deutsche Bank analyst. "Using their buying power together with Wal-Mart's, it forces Costco to be very sharp on their prices."
Mr. Sinegal's elbows can be sharp as well. As most suppliers well know, his gruff charm is not what lets him sell goods at rock-bottom prices - it's his fearsome toughness, which he rarely shows in public. He often warns suppliers not to offer other retailers lower prices than Costco gets.
When a frozen-food supplier mistakenly sent Costco an invoice meant for Wal-Mart, he discovered that Wal-Mart was getting a better price. "We have not brought that supplier back," Mr. Sinegal said.
He has to be flinty, he said, because the competition is so fierce. "This is not the Little Sisters of the Poor," he said. "We have to be competitive in the toughest marketplace in the world against the biggest competitor in the world. We cannot afford to be timid."
Nor can he afford to let personal relationships get in his way. Tim Rose, Costco's senior vice president for food merchandising, recalled a time when Starbucks did not pass along savings from a drop in coffee bean prices. Though he is a friend of the Starbucks chairman, Howard Schultz, Mr. Sinegal warned he would remove Starbucks coffee from his stores unless it cut its prices.
"Howard said, 'Who do you think you are? The price police?' " Mr. Rose recalled, adding that Mr. Sinegal replied emphatically that he was.
If Mr. Sinegal feels proprietary about warehouse stores, it is for good reason. He was present at the birth of the concept, in 1954. He was 18, a student at San Diego Community College, when a friend asked him to help unload mattresses for a month-old discount store called Fed-Mart.
What he thought would be a one-day job became a career. He rose to executive vice president for merchandising and became a protégé of Fed-Mart's chairman, Sol Price, who is credited with inventing the idea of high-volume warehouse stores that sell a limited number of products.
Mr. Price sold Fed-Mart to a German retailer in 1975 and was fired soon after. Mr. Sinegal then left and helped Mr. Price start a new warehouse company, Price Club. Its huge success led others to enter the business: Wal-Mart started Sam's Club, Zayre's started BJ's Wholesale Club and a Seattle entrepreneur tapped Mr. Sinegal to help him found Costco.
Costco has used Mr. Price's formula: sell a limited number of items, keep costs down, rely on high volume, pay workers well, have customers buy memberships and aim for upscale shoppers, especially small-business owners. In addition, don't advertise - that saves 2 percent a year in costs. Costco and Price Club merged in 1993.
"Jim has done a very good job in balancing the interests of the shareholders, the employees, the customers and the managers," said Mr. Price, now 89 and retired. "Most companies tilt too much one way or the other."
Mr. Sinegal, who is 69 but looks a decade younger, also delights in not tilting Costco too far into cheap merchandise, even at his warehouse stores. He loves the idea of the "treasure hunt" - occasional, temporary specials on exotic cheeses, Coach bags, plasma screen televisions, Waterford crystal, French wine and $5,000 necklaces - scattered among staples like toilet paper by the case and institutional-size jars of mayonnaise.
The treasure hunts, Mr. Sinegal says, create a sense of excitement and customer loyalty.
This knack for seeing things in a new way also explains Costco's approach to retaining employees as well as shoppers. Besides paying considerably more than competitors, for example, Costco contributes generously to its workers' 401(k) plans, starting with 3 percent of salary the second year and rising to 9 percent after 25 years.
ITS insurance plans absorb most dental expenses, and part-time workers are eligible for health insurance after just six months on the job, compared with two years at Wal-Mart. Eighty-five percent of Costco's workers have health insurance, compared with less than half at Wal-Mart and Target.
Costco also has not shut out unions, as some of its rivals have. The Teamsters union, for example, represents 14,000 of Costco's 113,000 employees. "They gave us the best agreement of any retailer in the country," said Rome Aloise, the union's chief negotiator with Costco. The contract guarantees employees at least 25 hours of work a week, he said, and requires that at least half of a store's workers be full time.
Workers seem enthusiastic. Beth Wagner, 36, used to manage a Rite Aid drugstore, where she made $24,000 a year and paid nearly $4,000 a year for health coverage. She quit five years ago to work at Costco, taking a cut in pay. She started at $10.50 an hour - $22,000 a year - but now makes $18 an hour as a receiving clerk. With annual bonuses, her income is about $40,000.
"I want to retire here," she said. "I love it here."
domingo, julho 24, 2005
ugly guy: i'm here to try out for the pirate movie.
first casting agent: i'm sorry, you're really ugly, but not quite hideously unattractive. come back after your hair falls out or you get hit by a bus, 'mkay? NEXT!
second casting agent to first casting agent: man, that dude was a freak, but certainly not freaky enough. let's send the assistant out to the lobby to see if we've got anyone with extra limbs.
sexta-feira, julho 22, 2005
my baby sis is another year closer to thirty and because i'm twenty-five in perpetuity, she's now my older sis. congrats, shan! except that she also looks young, hasn't gotten fatter and doesn't have crow's feet. as we speak, she's probably dragging her friends to the bowling alley and getting splendidly drunk. i'd post a video clip she sent where she's mooning the camera, but a) i don't know how to do that, and b) i don't have her approval. guys, you're missing out because my lil sis has a nice boo-tay...for a white chick. enjoy your birthday, sissy!
in other news:
- while walking to the walgreen's, i passed a house with lots of cats. usually ceci doesn't pay too much attention to cats (unless they run), but this time she was very interested. i glanced over, looked back and then did a double take. wait, that cat looks awfully big! it was a raccoon, just standing there, staring at us. it was totally unfazed by me or my barking dog. we just stood there, me staring at the coon, ceci pulling on her leash so hard she was standing upright and the coon looking rather blasé. eventually he grew tired of us and sauntered away. ceci and i remained standing there, stunned. frankly, i don't know what the big deal was - it was just a common raccoon and i've seen plenty of them on my street - but it was something about the way it was hanging out with all the cats, as if it were totally domesticated.
- at the walgreen's, i found the coolest thing to go along with the congrats on starting law school/way belated birthday gift to demanda. okay, it's not the coolest, but as soon as i saw it, i knew i had to get it for her. now i have even more reason to visit her at her new place, so we can order chris to whip up a batch of margaritas and then proceed to annoy him with this particular gift. unless we suck him into it, that is. (amanda, aren't you curious? aren't you? aren't you? i'm not telling you what it is, so don't ask. you'll just have to wait...and hope i get to the post office soon.)
- today was my first day of work and, in the words of the boss, "it's not rocket science." but everyone's nice & it'll be an no stress job.
- i have an interview on wednesday at a doggie day care down the street from me. yes, a doggie day care. hey, i gotta pay the bills.
- on the walk home from the drugstore, i was thinking about kids. i think the subject popped up because i fill pedro's meds at walgreen's and if i were taking hormonal contraceptives right now, they'd cost about what a month's worth of his meds cost. which means that if i get back on the pill, i'll have to choose between my cat's thyroid medicine and birth control. but i honestly don't feel like altering my hormones anymore, so it's not really an issue right now. this despite my complete lack of desire to reproduce. it's weird. in my late 20's i went through something that i suppose resembles a baby lust/ticking clock thing, but i think that was more a reckoning with my unsuccessful love life and unconventional path rather than any sincere desire to have a baby. as i've discussed here before, i don't really care to grow and expell another living thing from my body and then have it feed off me and be dependent on me. i don't think babies are beautiful - they're bug-eyed and drooly and sit around in their own feces. when someone reproduces and then asks me if i want to hold the baby, i become very uncomfortable. attention everyone: i don't want to hold the baby. if i change my mind, i'll let you know. i'll hold the toddler or the small child, but not the baby. do not give the baby to me. i think hell for me would be an eternity with a screaming baby. i also think having a baby is like a gamble because you really don't know what you're going to get - a nobel prize winner, a sociopath, or something in between. and i don't like to gamble with stuff like that. think about it: the guy that drives his truck into luby's and shoots all the senior citizens is somebody's kid, charles manson is somebody's son, ann coulter is somebody's daughter, karl rove is, well, the spawn of something dark and fetid. when the mothers of the luby's guy, charles manson, ann coulter or, in the case of rove, my 8 week old toilet water, were pregnant, do you think they dreamt of how one day their children would turn out to be sociopaths? no. could that happen to anyone? yes. do i want it to happen to me? hell no.
quinta-feira, julho 21, 2005
by the way, i'm achieving an amazing feat by typing right now with a dog and a cat competing for space on my lap with my laptop. and the cat has a giant wad of nonadhesive bandage, gauze and waterproof tape on his paw. it looks like a big, white knob and watching him walk around with it is worth the pain of putting it on in the first place. you might be wondering why i put a giant wad of tape and gauze on my cat on a regular basis. i'll explain why when i explain "woman of action." intrigued?
but i'm a woman of action*, so i got online and found an organic produce co-op very near my house - closer than the aforementioned inadequate grocery chains. yay!
*there's a semi-funny story about "woman of action," but i'm too tired to tell it now. it's almost 2am. i'm not quite sure why i'm even awake right now.
i would like to add that randall's has ZERO organic produce, although the store is located in the "hippie gay" area of houston (my brother's choice of words, not mine) and is competing with c-market and whore foods.
quarta-feira, julho 20, 2005
also on the list: i have no aptitude for interior decoration. i really want to paint my apartment, but i'm paralyzed by all the paint samples all over the floor. i keep wandering from room to room muttering about whether or not i want rapture or twilight fever in the bedroom, or maybe a combo of cut ruby and lazy sun. what would look better in the spare room? tidal basin or serene sea? or maybe china blue? should i attempt some sort of trading spaces-inspired multi-color/pattern painting technique? what about high gloss? muted or bright? what colors will complement my funky checkered kitchen floor? should i go hog wild with some bright colors in the kitchen or concede to the tile and just go neutral? arrrggg!! what really irks me is my metrosexual brother isn't around to advise me in all this. i guess i could just wait til andrew gets here & get some input from him. oh wait, did i just write those words? ha! he'll probably do the typical male thing - say he doesn't care/sure that's fine, give me an annoying amount of pointers on how to paint/how i'm painting all wrong, then make some offhand comment about how he isn't wild about the color, then go back to not giving a shit.
and also a problem: i'm a pig. seriously, i'm about ready to head on down to overeaters anonymous. so, it's only fitting that i met thomas for dinner tonight at the pig stand. fortunately, i mitigated the effects of the calorie-dense meal by riding my bike there. yay! the bike! i missed riding my bike - another reason to be glad to be home. the food was pretty yummy- i had a burger & chocolate malt. i briefly considered trying the pig sandwich, but the picture on the menu didn't look as delicious as i would have liked. yes, the menu had pictures. and i was too disconcerted by the hundreds of pig eyes staring at me. oh, did i fail to mention that the place is filled with lots and lots of pig paraphernalia? all. kinds. of. pigs. just more than a little creepy. otherwise, the place had a nice diner feel to it, complete with regulars sitting at the counter, distracting our waitress from bringing me my chocolate malt. i think those regulars have been served by our waitress since she was 16...and she's now about 50 going on 80 - i'm guessing a few too many packs of dorals went into that one. but she was nice and friendly, even if it took her forever to bring me my malt and when you're late with my malt and my blood sugar is low - beware! yeah, so, i was saying i should probably call OA soon. seriously.
i sent an email to a listing for a weekend test proctor. i know it's not big time hours, uber glamorous or big money, but it's something low key and low stress that i can do for a little extra cash during school. this morninng i got a phone call:
man on phone: can i speak to heather, please?
me: this is she.
MOP: this is jon k__ and you emailed me about the test proctor position on craigslist.
me, blurting out awkwardly without any prelude or social niceties: areyoubryank__'sbrother?
jon k, caught aback: excuse me? what?
me, starting to feel like a jackass: uhm, what was your name again?
jk: jon k__.
me, still in socially inept dork mode: areyoubryank__'sbrother?
jk: uh, yeah.
me, regaining social graces & desperately needing to steer the conversation in a less awkward direction: i'm a friend of his. i think i met you over christmas.
jk: really? where?
me: in a bar, uh, i think it was called b-sides. in austin.
somehow we managed to save the conversation from it's dangerous plummet into weirdness and by the end, we made an appointment to meet tomorrow.
so, the job search has been vaguely successful. i still haven't attained my goal of getting some sort of full time bullshit temp work from now til august 15 & frankly, i don't even want to. but i know i must at least put forth an honest effort, and if i end up spending my remaining days of summer freedom hanging out on the beach in galveston or hiking the trails in memorial park, well, don't i deserve that?
in the meantime, i'm trying to keep my expenses low. i refuse to turn on the a/c window units for more than 30 minutes at a time, preferably only once or twice per day. i have one oscillating fan that i carry with me from room to room and i plant myself in front of it if at all possible. my oven is still broken (i finally asked the landlord to fix it - i wasn't cooking anyway!), which means i have to eat nice, cold things out of the fridge, which is just fine with me. i decided to spend the afternoon at school today, just for the free a/c. tomorrow i'll probably wander around the galleria before my job interview for the very same reason. free a/c is good! hey, maybe i'll finally get on that summer reading list i never started & hang out in the library all day. i could get used to this carefree lifestyle, despite the poverty!
terça-feira, julho 19, 2005
i escaped hurricane emily and got back to houston today. everything was pretty much as i'd left it, just stuffier and kinda stinky. i'd sealed up the place, turned everything but the fridge off and set off flea bombs before i left. and those chemicals had 8 weeks to set, baked in by the heat. i have every candle i own lit right now & i'm about to go buy some incense. and i guess i could mop the floor with orange oil or something. all of my plants survived the neglect. well, the more high maintenance plants stayed with my brother. i discovered that when you leave a toilet unflushed for 8 weeks with the lid down in a hot apartment, disgusting things grow. standing water + heat + enclosed space = grody
the austin visit really wasn't all i'd hoped it would be. my dad was in town saturday & because it rained all morning, we decided to forego (what would forego be in the past tense? forewent?) the planned canoe trip & went out to eat at trudy's. when i woke up and saw it raining, i told andrew that we would probably end up going to fry's to stare at the big tv and other fancy electronic gadgets. well, guess what my dad and brother suggested we do after lunch? yep.
saturday eve we went out to satay restaurant to celebrate a friend's birthday. we went all out & spent a ridiculous amount of money, but the food was really good, so, well, so what. after the meal, everyone was choosing a dessert & i said i wasn't going to have any - the start of my quest to lose the 10 pounds i gained in the valley, aka the place where tacos abound & clients pay you with giant cakes & choco-fucking-flan. but then the desserts came out and i was really kicking myself for not ordering the dessert special, the chocolate silk pudding. as i was vocalizing my regret, the waiter set a dish of the pudding in front of me. andrew, the sneaky bastard, had ordered some for me. it was totally amazing - and made from tofu!
also on saturday, i got a call from my ex-roomie, big time producer, telling me that i wasn't edited out of the reality show, where i'm featured with my fake fiance, pretending to dislike a house that i was never really interested in buying with my pretend husband-to-be. the show is property ladder, now airing on TLC. i'm on the episode entitled "family DIY dysfunction" and i'm in the last 10 minutes, during the open house scenes. i'm shown at least 4 times and twice i'm speaking! i say, "i really like the paint upstairs with the two tones" or something like that and "the price is a little high compared to some of the other properties we've seen in the area." check it out! the episode airs again this saturday, july 23 at 3pm central and again august 25th at 9pm & midnight. check me out!
sunday we stayed in bed almost all day, napping during the scattered showers. monday andrew had the day off and i postponed my return to houston so we could have a repeat of sunday + a trip to our favorite local bastrop restaurant, the yacht club. we are some lazy mofos when we want to be! the bottom line is that i barely got to see anyone and i never went swimming or did anything very active. but hey, sometimes i need a few days of sloth. now it's back to the grind! i gotta find me a jay oh bee.
quinta-feira, julho 14, 2005
but first, i'm going to take a few days to unwind in austin. maybe get a meximart or two at trudy's, hit barton springs, organize a little toobing excursion on the san marcos, comal or guadalupe rivers. yeah!
last night we had the mandatory send-off gathering at a local watering hole. after the last few disasters at chili's (yeah, i know. and yes, that is chili's the chain restaurant, which, believe it or not, has decent margaritas) and another local restaurant, we decided to branch out into new territory, a bar called pepe's on the river in mission, texas. pepe's is a giant open-air palapa right on the rio grande & the stretch of the river in view of pepe's porch is very pretty. it was goddamn hot, even in the shade and even at sunset, but we stuck it out cuz the drinks were cheap and the view was good. we had the place to ourselves - i guess wednesday nights aren't big party nights at pepe's - and so i felt no qualms about going up to the bar and asking them to change the music from the endless parade of 70's disco to, well, anything else. at the bar, i struck up a conversation with an old man smoking a cigar & as luck would have it, he was the pepe of pepe's on the river. whaddayaknow? unfortunately, that's the extent of my story - no free shots from pepe or naked dancing on the bar or skinny dipping in the river. just a couple of margaritas, a corona and a long drive home. wow - i'm really getting lame in my old age!
quarta-feira, julho 13, 2005
one thing i have already missed, though, is the concert of the year down here: ratt, quiet riot, cinderella and firehouse. i guess that happened last week. oh well.
terça-feira, julho 12, 2005
i don't think i can sleep at night after seeing this website. [via boingboing]
after seeing that, i think i've finally found something creepier than working overnight security for a dollshow held in the basement of a building that was rumored to be haunted. i still shudder to recall those wide, glassy eyes following me as i walked down the dimly lit aisles. so, among my list of extremely creepy things: #1 clowns, #2 dolls en masse, #3 toddler beauty queens.
segunda-feira, julho 11, 2005
while you're at it, will you also tell them that i don't need to enlarge my penis? i don't have one of those, either. thanks.
sábado, julho 09, 2005
LOTGS is the tale of three sexy Throbbits that must destroy a "legendary artifact." This artifact is the most powerfully erotic weapon of all, the G-string worn by Whorespanks, an evil vixen dominatrix slain by General Uptights. The drunken wizard Smirnoff gave the young, not-so-innocent bisexual Throbbit Dildo Saggins the task of destroying the g-string and she was accompanied by 2 of her female Throbbit friends. Throughout their journey, they were followed by Ballem, a slave to the power of the g-string and came upon many a badly directed lesbian sex scene set to pan pipe music.
The Throbbits made their way to the Panzy Pony, where after one of the Throbbits had her way with a barwench on top of the pool table, they met Araporn, who joined them in their quest. The female Araporn and the 3 Throbbits spent many a night by the campfire exchanging gentle caresses and tender kisses in a not-so-wild lesbian orgy complete with Indian-inspired electronica, ala Dead Can Dance, playing in the background.
And that's about as far as I got into the story. If LOTR was collectively over 10 hours, I can't imagine how long LOTGS was going to take with all the sex thrown in there. But if I were to venture a guess, I'd say that there were plenty more gentle caresses and women slowly disrobing other women tenderly beneath the trees. And, of course, more gratuitous shots of Dildo Saggins in the g-string and wielding her power as wearer of the "most powerfully erotic weapon." bow-chicka-bow-wow!
sexta-feira, julho 08, 2005
quinta-feira, julho 07, 2005
here i am in the local spanish daily, working hard. i liked this one because the caption under the photo said "la abogada heather bxxxxx." abogada = attorney. not quite accurate yet, but...
i think i probably come out better in print media, especially after my nose-picking incident (technically it was a scratch! a scratch! gee, that reminds me of a seinfeld episode.)
check it out! the back of my head made the front page of the local paper.
this guy was great - he sat down, opened up the lid on that big blue mug and said, "smell this." it was tap water from his house and it smelled, as he so eloquently put it, "like the river." it was also a very funky color.
this water company is outrageous. they don't send bills out for months at a time and then suddenly send a final notice for some unbelievable amount & cut off the water shortly after, charging hundreds of dollars to reconnect. i actually saw one bill that had a $195 fee for an "administrative decision." wtf? one month their customers will get a bill for 4000 gallons used and the next month for 40,000. and to make it even more absurd - some people have zero water pressure for long periods of time. one woman told me that she's able to get enough water to take a bath in the evening only 2 or 3 days out of the week, yet the water company wants her to believe that she still managed to use 50,000 gallons that month. yeah, right.
Patience Running Dry
Travis M. Whitehead
Fed up with water service, residents seek civil rights project’s help
LA JOYA — Customers of a local water company have met with a civil rights organization wishing to protect them from bad billing and other problems.
The South Texas Civil Rights Project interviewed La Joya Water Supply Corporation customers Wednesday morning at Proyecto Desarrollo Humano (Human Development Project) in Peñitas. About 40 customers of the corporation met with STCRP representatives to explain their problems with the company, which has a history of bad billing practices and water service.
STCRP attorney Corinna Spencer-Scheurich said the project is preparing to file a lawsuit which might be necessary to protect customers, because the company recently changed from being a nonprofit organization to a special utility district. This change, she said, will take effect Sept. 1.
It could void an injunction by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott last April that prevents the corporation from terminating water service without court approval.
That’s because, as a special utility district, the corporation will become a state governmental agency, and the state can’t file an injunction against itself.
Spencer-Scheurich said she and representatives of La Union del Pueblo Entero, Texas Rural Legal Aid (which has also filed a lawsuit), and four Catholic nuns at Proyecto Desarrollo Humano want to get the word out to everyone effected by this change. She also said she wanted to make sure customers are not faced with the same problems of over-billing and termination of services because of that change.
"We’re trying to get people together to understand what problems they are having with their bill, start-up fees, lack of water," Spencer-Scheurich said.
Numerous customers have had their water turned off in the past. The injunction filed in April alleged that faulty accounting and billing practices, as well as meter misreadings, had caused outrageous bills and unwarranted "final notice" statements and disconnections. It also mandated accurate and monthly bills, according to Monitor archives.
La Joya Water Supply Corporation did not return several phone calls from The Monitor.
One person who has experienced problems with the corporation is Norma Nuñez, 32.
"I need to have a water meter installed because I’m moving into a home," said Nuñez, a member of LUPE.
"They told me it would be $2,395," she said through an interpreter. "I asked if I could pay in payments of $50 or $100 a month and they said no."
Instead, the corporation wanted her to pay more than $300 per month for the meter. Her husband, who works as a mechanic and cuts yards, earned only $500 this month, and they have three children.
Juanita Valdez-Cox, director of LUPE, said many customers feel compelled to pay even when the corporation is obviously in the wrong.
"They have their bill, but they don’t get a statement from the water company," she said. "They still go and pay. Their whole billing system is pretty messed up."
Valdez-Cox commended Maria Gomez, a community organizer, for helping to bring the problems before the public eye.
"She holds household meetings in the community and talks to residents about what are the issues, what are the problems," she said.
Gomez said she began meeting with residents to address basic needs such as street lights, lack of security, trash pickup and, of course, high water bills.
"That was the main problem," she said. "We have gone about three times in large groups to the water supply corporation and told them the situation. At that moment they say they will figure it out, but the problem continues."
quarta-feira, julho 06, 2005
can you imagine the pressure on this kid now? first, he's totally going to get his ass kicked on a regular basis because his mom has an online casino's web address tattooed on her forehead. ON HER FOREHEAD. second, his mom is totally going to give him HELL if he doesn't get all A's. can you imagine the family fights? "i tattooed goldenpalace.com on my head for you and this is how you repay me?" third, all the private schooling in the world isn't going to help him if he inherited his intelligence from his mother. and finally, $10,000? yeah, that's not really going to go very far, i'm guessing. which brings me back to #3.
1. andrew was here for several days visiting. i always feel a void when he & the dogs leave & it's not because i'm totally co-dependent or anything. he has a very large presence* & when he's gone, there's a noticeable absence. and the bed feels suddenly much more vast and cold.
*i don't just mean that his presence is large because he's built like a basketball player. it's not so much his physical presence, but his whole self, if that makes any sense.
2. occasionally i get the feeling that someone is going to break in & do horrible things to me. i read too many horror novels as a child, not to mention my teenage fascination with horror flicks. just don't talk to me about hockey masks & dudes with long fingernails wearing striped sweaters.
3. my internship is over in a week and a half. A WEEK AND A HALF. i suddenly realized all the shit i have to do. this is seriously freaking me out. but i'm trying to resign myself to the fact that i'm not going to get any closure. the cases i've been working on will continue long after i'm gone. unfortunately, i've become very involved in the human trafficking case & i'd give anything to see it through. but that could take a very, very long time & i have to finish school, after all.
4. i really need to clean this house. i'm starting to feel out of control, it's such a mess. and it's not my house & the owners will be home in a matter of days. and, uh, i lost a few of those birds. shit.
5. my baby sister is going to be turning 27 this month. TWENTY-SEVEN. that means my brother will be TWENTY-NINE next february. i'm suddenly nostalgic for my 20's. so, this december i will be turning 25. just wanted everyone to be aware of that. i am twenty-five now. TWENTY-FIVE. that's the age i look and that's the age i'll be. actually, i look younger than 25. ha! if that's the case, then why do i feel like i have the body of a middle-aged woman? i need to join a gym.
6. dear god. i'm thirtywa...TWENTY-FIVE and i haven't really done shit with my life. but that's not true, i just haven't lived a very conventional life. i've had about 80 different jobs & no "career." i'm divorced. i have no children & no overwhelming desire to reproduce. i never met my prince charming, just a bunch of assholes, a couple of really nice ones & one that gets me, sometimes i think a little too much. if i could go back in time and say anything to my pre-pubescent self, it would be: STOP WATCHING SOAP OPERAS! DON'T READ THOSE TRASHY ROMANCE NOVELS! PUT DOWN THE SWEET VALLEY HIGH! GET RID OF YOUR KIRK CAMERON & RIVER PHOENIX POSTERS! DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT CONTINUE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION TO TEEN MAGAZINE! THROW OUT THAT HORRIBLE BLUE MASCARA! DON'T DO THAT TO YOUR BANGS, AND THE PERM? NO. PLEASE. EMBRACE YOUR FREAK SELF & FOR CRISSAKES, DON'T WAIT TIL YOU'RE 27 TO FINALLY BUY A DECENT VIBRATOR!! i bought into that traditional romance shit & when it didn't work out, it only made me more depressed. and i didn't need that.
why am i making this list? if i'm going to be awake anyway, i may as well get some work done. or at least turn on the late-night skinimax & watch some soft core porn. seriously.
terça-feira, julho 05, 2005
did i think about telling the owner that another one died? possibly. but that conversation would have gone like this:
me: i'm really sorry. there must have been some sort of epidemic because another bird died. i feel horrible. i wasn't sure what to do about it.
owner: oh, well, then what happened to the other three?
me: did i say one bird? i meant four. big, epidemic. biiiiig epidemic. feel horrible. really.
did i think about going to the pet store & buying another bird? also a thought that may have gone through my head. but that conversation would have gone like this:
me: welcome back! the birds look great, don't they?
owner: yeah, except, what is that parakeet doing in there? and what happened to the other birds?
me: okay, well, here's your house key. hope you had a nice vacation! byeeee!
but of course i won't do either of those things. i can't pull that kind of scam off anyway. i'm a horrible liar. april fool's day jokes? yeah, i suck at those. so, i'll explain what happened and offer to pay for new bird(s). and then i'll never agree to housesit at a place with a bird again!
sábado, julho 02, 2005
all the other interns left at noon, but i had a situation with some clients, so i not only stayed til the usual 6pm quitting time, but had to take those clients to new accommodations & by the time i made it to my current temporary home, it was 10pm. i watched tv and ate a very late dinner, drank a few glasses of wine, popped a zyrtec for allergies, and crashed. i woke up today at 1pm & went out to feed & water the birds and dogs.
that's when i discovered the bird skeleton at the bottom of the cage, picked clean by ants. i'm still creeped out by those vacant eye sockets and bright orange beak. i have failed in my housesitting duties, though i'm not sure what i could have done differently. i interrupted the owner on his vacation to deliver the news & it didn't seem to phase him. in fact, he told me to feel free to leave the ant-covered bird body in the cage if i wanted, that the ants would take care of it.
i'll try to do better by the dogs. so far, all seems to be going well.