December 31, 2004

Kickin' 2004 out the door

You know, I had a nice New Year's Eve post all planned. I was going to reflect a bit on the year, thank all the people whom I now have the honor of considering to be friends made by means of our blogs, and how my life has been changed to some degree through this site and those people. To the list of titles we have and give ourselves -- woman, daughter, sister, friend, American, paralegal, petsitter, volunteer -- I have gotten to add "blogger" and have it mean something fundamental to me.

But all that went to hell in a handbasket after a couple bottles of champagne and celebrating to ring in the New Year. Instead of sitting here and pulling all my thoughts together in a nice, cohesive way, I spent the time swigging the bubbly and playing Trivial Pursuit, 90s edition, blowing on horns and popping crackers, watching the really dumb NYE shows, and wrapping it up with a malpractice-inducing round of inebriated Operation. Poor Shrek will never be the same.

So all that's really left to say is thank you to each of you who have helped bring a little life to One Ping Only...even when I had to harass some of you into remembering to read it. Oh, and Happy New Year to you all!

December 30, 2004

A little something on the side

I am the curious type and I'm almost always willing to try new things in the name of improving -- or at least trying to improve -- my blog, so long as they're:
a) cheap (as in "free");
b) easy (because, let's face it, almost a year later and I still don't know what I'm doing when it comes to HTML); and
c) interesting (at least to me).
And as there have been many times since I went to the one-post-a-weekday-only format when I've wanted to just put in a link to a news story with a brief comment, but do not have the coding skills to rip off Ernie's "mini-blog" format, what I'm about to introduce definitely meets the third requirement. Happily, it also meets the first two.

So, without further ado -- although, really, I don't see what's so wrong with ado, and maybe what the world needs now is more ado, sweet ado -- I'd like to introduce you to Ping on the Side. It's a bit of an experiment that I've embarked on merely to amuse myself...and because AOL decided to jump on the blog bandwagon (the blogdwagon?) and shoved the opportunity in my face with some goofy come-on that I was intrigued (read: bored) enough to check out.

I had no idea that they've had an "AOL Journal" available for over a year, though apparently it was something that until recently was only able to be viewed by other AOL members. But, being the egalitarian sort, they have now opened it up to the WWWorld at large and here I am doing their publicity for them. But really, I think the format suits what I had in mind and I consider it to be a supplement to this page.

Cool-ish things about it:
1. I can IM items to post to it. This would be very cool if I were able to get AIM to work through the firewall at my job;
2. It will e-mail me if someone makes a comment there, unlike here. I imagine that if I upgraded Haloscan, that would probably be available to me, but then I'd have to spend money; and
3. Did I mention it's free?
Should a particular day's OPO post bore you to tears, yet you still like coming here soooo much that you just can't bear to take off in under your usual 20 seconds...or you're too lazy to go find the link to the "Odd News of the Day" headlines elsewhere...or you're just dying to discover what news items I find fascinating and whether or not I'll actually fill in the "All About Me" section that some people seem to find so necessary to a successful blog and I have never cared enough about to enable here...or you find me mildly amusing on a semi-regular basis but think that I ramble on too much on a regular basis (Rita)...or are just bored enough to try something new, too, please go check it out and let me know what you think.

Once I figure out what to do with the link to it after today, kind of like a New Feature for the New Year sort of thing, it will remain there until it either dies a slow death because no one cares or I get too busy to continue it because no one cares.

So care, people, care -- or the innocent little baby blog that never hurt anyone gets it.

Update: Because LibertyBob is the only one who cares (even if he does think awful things about California), he went and played guinea pig on this for me. And what he found was a little disturbing: The stupid thing makes you sign in. That certainly wasn't my intention, as I don't think someone should have to give out info if they don't want to. Should have known this was too good to be true!

Anyone want to see if it will let you put in a BS address, like We could have some fun with that if it does. Like, for Norman! (Although he's so busy being Michele'd that he may not have time to visit the likes of me again anytime soon.) If not, or if it's just not worth it, that could be the shortest experiment ever.

December 29, 2004

Would you like a little wind to go with that?

Because I am not ensconced at home, cozily listening to the wind whip through the back patio covering and scaring the bejeebers out of me because I am sure that each 40mph gust is going to rip it right off, but am instead in the wilds of Los Gatos where high-speed Internet access is not at my disposal, this will be brief.

Earlier tonight, before the rain started up again, I went to see a movie. After being hounded browbeaten encouraged for weeks by my dear friend, Howard, to go see "Blade: Trinity" I finally had my chance. And I have to concur with his enthusiastic endorsement of it -- it was much better than the last one, it was funny and entertaining, and was a heck of a good movie. Need more? Ladies, here's your reason to go. Gentlemen, here is your reason. Trust me, they're both worth the price of admission. That lucky, lucky Alanis Morrissette...

Oh, and did I mention that it's still raining? And will be for about the next week? *sigh*

December 28, 2004

You're kidding me, right?

A clip show?!? First we get a "to be continued" episode of the Amazing Race last week, and now we get a freaking clip show!?!? Does anyone else think that maybe CBS is getting a little cocky and letting the show's success go right to their pointy little heads?

Don't give me "a special episode" of mostly retreads just because it's a holiday week and you're afraid people won't be watching -- I'm not the one who decided to delay starting the showing of this race and arranging it so that its midpoint falls during a dead period for TV! Oh, wait, let me guess, this will mean that the critical final legs of the race can be shown during the all-important sweeps period in February, right? That's right, it's ad revenue that counts, not your audience.

Okay, so in the midst of all my grumbling, I still managed to prepare The Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ because they did show footage that hadn't been aired before, and they did manage to rack up a fairly impressive baby/honey count in the doing. But I'm still pretty bitter about it.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: "A Special Episode" = 28

Other highlights: I enjoyed seeing more of the trials the participants faced with those ridiculously small cars in Hungary, especially Gus wedging himself into theirs while saying, "This ain't a lotta car;" Jonathan proving himself to be an even bigger ass with every word that he speaks (did you realize that they were in "Senegog"?); and deciding that Kris & Jon are the nicest couple ever and deserve to win this thing like no one else.

Lastly, we were treated to ads for two of CBS' upcoming reality shows for the new year. "Wickedly Perfect" looks like it has some potential, but it will really depend on whether the people they cast for it can make competing to be the next non-incarcerated Martha Stewart interesting. On the other hand, "The Will" looks like the absolute tackiest thing I've ever seen proposed for TV. I think it may even have FOX's upcoming "Who's Your Daddy?" beat in that category, though the only hue and cry I've heard has been about the adoption show. I do not plan to watch either of them to see if my predictions bear out.

December 27, 2004

Dig out the rubbers and slickers

I'm beginning to think it isn't going to stop raining here. It started shortly after I woke up today and I don't think it let up for more than a minute, but never fully stopped. Obviously, when there are parts of the world in utter chaos due to flooding, I'm not going to get worked up because my back patio is more marsh than solid and I'm a little concerned about the pool overflowing.

But rain most certainly dominated my day, so it's uppermost on my mind. And the fact that my LaunchCast radio station has now played "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival twice today has me thinking about all the songs that mention rain and, damn, there are a lot of them.

Off the top of my head there's "Who'll Stop the Rain," also by CCR (which I often confuse with the song above, for some reason), "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor, "Purple Rain" by Prince, "Mandolin Rain" by Bruce Hornsby, "Here Comes the Rain Again" by The Eurythmics, "Red Rain" by Peter Gabriel, "No Rain" by Blind Melon, "Let It Rain" by Eric Clapton, "Laughter in the Rain" by Neil Sedaka, "I Love a Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit, and the classic "Singin' In the Rain" as sung by the classic Gene Kelly.

Not counting the 400 or so I next found on Launch simply entitled "Rain" or "The Rain," mostly by artists I've never heard of, or those that are covers of those songs by other artists, there are many, many thousands of other songs about rain in their catalog.

Which favorite rain song of yours is my water-soaked brain forgetting or have I never heard of before?

December 25, 2004

Post-Christmas debrief

I love Christmas. (Well, to be more accurate, I love the secular celebration of Christmas.) I love buying just the right things for the people I care about, wrapping them up, and watching them enjoy what I've selected. I love the lights, the decorations, the music (or most of it), making up my little gift surprise for the people at work, and the whole anticipation of the day. And I love getting gifts. Not much to dislike, all in all, at Christmas in my life. Sure, having someone special to share it with would be pretty great but, lacking that, Christmas is one of my favorite times next to my birthday.

So imagine my surprise when the entire day of Christmas Eve sucked, hardcore. I'm not going to go into details here because...well...just because. But I'll hit the lowlights: nasal congestion galore; oversleeping; trip to the emergency room (not for me); lots of worry; lots of running around; getting locked out of a house; driving around looking for help due to being locked out; frustration; more running around; more worrying; not getting presents wrapped; falling into bed exhausted, not having done half the things you had planned to do. The single high point was dinner, which was enjoyed out at a lovely restaurant, La Pastaia.

The running around is typical for me this time of year, not because I'm still shopping but because I am almost always petsitting at least two places and they're never near each other. Usually I stay at one of the places and do drop-in at the other but this time, with all the craziness, I ended up not staying at either of the places so that meant a lot more driving. And I usually don't get locked out because I'm very careful -- in all the years I've been doing it, I've only been locked out once before this.

All this left me in an absolutely crummy mood heading into a day of expected happiness, and just about ready to hang up my keys for good, to boot. But, thankfully, all bad days come to an end and this one was no exception. Plans were modified, help was offered, patience was exercised, and things got back on track. Gifts were wrapped, animals were attended to, music was played, treats were eaten, and cares were forgotten for a while. And, finally, there were presents!

So, what was the best present you received -- either tangible or intangible -- this Christmas?

December 23, 2004

The light of freedom, sweet freedom

Last night, I was so freaking tired that I wrote the title here, then decided I couldn't do it, closed my eyes and went to sleep. I had worked really late trying to finish up some stuff I had committed to getting done before vacation and, if I didn't want to go in to work today, I felt I needed to stay and bang it out. The end result was worth it, because I am now free of responsibility until January 3rd. Wahoo!

Today didn't quite go as planned due to a minor family emergency, but it beat the 9 to 5 grind, that's for sure. And, with one final purchase late in the day, I completed my Christmas shopping. Wa-double-hoo!

Once back home, I had a chance to watch a show I had recorded on TiVo a few days ago from HGTV called Outta Control Christmas. If that's a channel you get, and you like Christmas lights and displays, this is the show for you; there's one more showing scheduled for Christmas day.

Usually, each year we make an effort to drive around and check out the lights in our area, sometimes planned, sometimes unplanned (and swervy) as someone catches a glimpse of glimmering lights as we're headed somewhere. But I have never, ever, seen anything like the stuff in this show.

I think one of the most impressive is done by a guy in Salt Lake City and he calls it Christmas Utah. If you don't get HGTV or you're just not into watching (it is a little corny at times), at least go click on the link and check out the photos for the 2004 display. The Harley-riding Santa is too cool, though it's better "in motion." This guy is good.

My least favorite is early in the show, and it's a guy who calls himself the King of Holiday Inflatables. I had actually visited the Web site earlier in the season and I, frankly, wasn't all that impressed then either. There's just something creepy about a yard filled with nylon like that. The pyramid of snowmen is pretty creative, though. But you have to wonder if, when all those SpongeBob inflatables started disappearing last month, whether the local constabulary decided to take a cruise past this guy's house first.

This is the first year since we moved back out to California that we were really able to decorate our house outdoors. We could before, but because we lived in the back half of a duplex, it really wasn't worth it because we had only a small area to work with and pretty much no one but us could see it. Because I was sick, we didn't get things up here as early as we would have liked, but we did get out there and get some decorating done before it was too late.

But, oh, the ideas I now have for next year! I may to have to start a fund now to pay for the extra electricity I think we may be needing next December...

December 21, 2004

Happy Winter. Now go away.

It is so late -- don't let the post time fool you -- and I am so tired, so this is going to be so short.

1. I cannot tell you how annoyed I am that tonight's Amazing Race wasn't a complete leg. I cannot begin to express how much I am now bordering on hating Jonathan, and I don't say that lightly. I cannot wait to see if Lori and Bolo are saved by a non-elimination round.

2. The Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ (this week brought to you courtesy of Ann) is one last gasp of autumn, as it is "Honey Pumpkin"-flavored. Or at least I think that's what Freddy meant when he called The Whiny One "Punky."

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 6 = 30

3. Wishing you and yours a very kitty Christmas. (With thanks to Rita for the link.)

December 20, 2004

Baking up a perfect storm

Tonight and last night were spent in a near orgy of holiday baking. Every year I make something different to bring in for all my co-workers right before our holiday break. I love to bake and such, but I don't do it that often, so this is my one big annual outlet for indulging in it.

Sometimes I get all Martha Stewart and creative and make something really unique. Other times, not as creative but even more yummy. (Right now, I can actually hear fat dude groaning and can imagine his eyes rolling so far back into his head that it hurts. But I don't care; there's nothing better than the gift of food, I enjoy doing it, and it makes me happy, happy, happy!)

This is a less creative, more yummy year. I started out planning to make pizzelles, but with my own little twist. After two test runs, however, it became clear that wasn't the way for me to go. In case you hadn't noticed through my writing, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and them damn pizzelles weren't coming out perfect enough for me. Too much batter in this one, too little batter in that one; this one isn't cooked enough, that one's too brown. So while they tasted good, they weren't up to snuff, gift-wise, and that plan got tossed. This is the second year in a row where my original idea did not pan out -- very aggravating.

Plan B turned out to be biscotti. I've made it before, but never with these recipes and never this many of them. There are still probably two batches to go (don't tell Mom -- I told her there was only one more), and then they have to be bagged and tagged. I never tell exactly what I'm making before I hand them out (the fact that this is sometimes because I wait too long to get started and I don't actually know for sure what it will be has, sadly, been true in years past), so I won't say yet what kind I'm making. But if anyone is interested in a killer recipe for a kind of biscotti I'm willing to bet that you haven't had before, let me know and I'll send it to you later this week.

There will be pictures once I'm done...if they all turn out perfectly, of course.

December 16, 2004

Black and white Bodie

There once was a girl from New York
who was sick and stayed home from work.
A friend was so kind
and sent a lovely picture to remind,
which gave the day a definite perk.

December 15, 2004

Amazingly sick, honey

I stayed home sick today. It was one of those times where, the second you wake up, you know there's no way you can go to work. Most of the time it's not like that for me. Usually I feel icky, but know that if I just get up and do the shower thing, etc., I'll feel better and can push through it.

But not today. Today was a "stay in bed and drink as much tea as you humanly can" kind of day right from the start. And I must say that if you don't have a spouse, lover, partner or otherwise day-to-day companion, I would highly recommend having my family around to take care of you. They rock. They indulged my illness-induced requests ("You think shrimp chow mein would be the perfect thing for lunch? I'll be over at 12:30, carton in hand.") and schedule ("Sure, I'll wait to have my own dinner until past 8:00 since you were sound asleep until after 7:30, then go get whatever you want.") with good humor and compassion, and don't seem to mind that I look like something the cat dragged in and then smacked around for good measure. Gotta love people who love you like that.

So, on to more interesting things for you, I imagine. Last night's episode of The Amazing Race had me sitting there wondering who on the AR6 staff had lost Jonathan's psych profile (and should be fired), because there's no way he should have made it onto this show. He has rage issues that are off the charts. Had I felt better, I probably would have been a lot more vocal in my reaction at the time, but it sure was hard to feel good about watching the end of the show. Oh, and speaking about rage, anyone else want to bitch-slap Kendra at least once? Just goes to further prove that "beautiful people" are not always so beautiful on the inside.

If you either don't watch the show and want to know more, or you follow it and want one of the best recaps ever, please visit this post at TVgasm. You can view the portion of the show (Quicktime required) where Jonathan shows his true colors -- and it's not the true blue of the stupid puff of hair above his collar -- and find it "amazing" too, just not for good reasons this time around.

I took some time to click on the Video link on the AR6 site and watch the Insider videos, among them "Phil's Diary," and I have to say that I am now even more disappointed in his reaction to the whole Jonathan and Victoria situation than I was during the show. He mentions how he felt he "had to say something" to Jonathan, but what he said was incredibly wimpy. He then goes on to say that the scathing comments Jonathan has for Victoria after humiliating her show how "focused on going all the way to the end and winning this race" he is. What an utter cop-out. I'm with B-Side -- Jeff Probst would not have left unsaid all the things Phil said only by the expression on his face.

In the end, my favorites, Don and Mary Jean, were sadly eliminated. They had their chances because there were a couple of time equalizers, as usual, but they just couldn't keep up. I hope to someday bump into them around here because I think Don is a sweetheart who loves his wife dearly, and you don't see enough of that anymore, it seems.

Last, but certainly not least, it's time for the Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™, this week with "Honey" flavoring. Surprisingly, it wasn't a very good week for "Baby," with "Honey" making such a strong showing (thanks, Hayden) that has to be included.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 5, "Honey"-flavored = 10

December 14, 2004

The one where you don't get to hear about the holiday party for work

Damn, this is going to sound wimpy, but I'm just too tired. Another good story down the tubes.

I'm feeling better but not 100%. I took a favored home remedy (Sorry, vics, there was no Woods navy rum at the liquor store I stopped in) and while it helps, it wipes me out.

I so rarely get sick that this is beginning to tick me off. Hope to be back tomorrow with more than just a bit of whining.

December 13, 2004

Holiday Catblogging (Kind of)

I'd planned on writing a great post about how I spent a good part of my evening pissing somebody off, purposefully and with great effect, demonstrating what a complete bitch I can be when given a compelling reason and hopped up on cold medication.

But then I came home, took care of household chores in between bouts of sneezing and blowing my nose, and promptly fell asleep in front of the TV once the cold stuff wore off because there was no one else here to help keep me awake. Oh, and there was nothing good on TV. I hate it when that happens.

Now I'm struggling to finish this in between bouts of throat-clearing and blowing my nose, while waiting for the next dose of cold stuff to kick in. My life is one big ball of excitement when I'm not feeling well, ain't it?

But before I collapse back into a heap and escape to peaceful oblivion, here is a most clever combination of catblogging and holiday celebration: An online advent calendar featuring a black cat named Tate. Pick your language and, when it loads, click on any of the numbers up to the current date. Once the little picture has loaded, click on "Play" to see what Tate is up to that day. My favorite thus far is the 8th.

Have fun. I'm passing out now.

December 10, 2004

Thanks for the memories

This has been a truly amazing week for me, blogwise. While the ol' Site Meter has begun the long but steady descent back into chirping crickets land, the number of people who have at least poked their heads on in as a result of the Weblog Awards (just for you Norman -- no link) has been a total trip. Some have even come back and that's the coolest part.

But it's pretty much all over but the shouting and the final tally, and as I don't normally post on the weekend, I wanted to take a minute to extend a heartfelt thank you to those of you who voted for me at any point during the process. Even my mom, who I don't think really sees exactly what the hullaballoo is all about, made sure she signed on once a day to go help keep OPO from becoming a tragic statistic at the bottom of its pile. I've garnered more than a whole percent and that's enough to put a glow on these otherwise pale cheeks!

Now, because just about every other blogger who isn't leading in an Awards category has mentioned it today, I'll do what I don't normally do and join the crowd.

I direct your attention toward what I think of as a reactionary but well-intended new alternative blog award that's just underway; an award competition for the little guy, the BOB. As one blogger put it, "It's an award for those of us that can't actually make a living at this." There's a bunch of unique categories and it's a good place to find some new blogs that aren't about politics! My favorite part? There are door prizes up for grabs for those who go nominate someone -- and we know how much I like free stuff.

So if you couldn't find just the right category for your favorite little corner blog over at the Weblog Awards, check it out and send them a little love today.

Now I've got two more days to figure out what to put up in the VIP section next...

December 09, 2004

A little gratuitous linking never hurt anyone

Well. Here it is, time to turn in for the night already and I haven't written a word until now.

I don't dare say that I don't have anything to write about, because: a) it wouldn't be true, I almost always have something to write about; and b) Fat Dude would figuratively kick my not-quite-figurative ass for saying it.

Instead I'll say "It's all his fault." There was a late-night party in The Village (and even though the beer was less than stellar, I stuck around), where I got distracted by a zombie, tripped over a guy walking around with a George Forman grill going "Here kitty, kitty, kitty," had a quick dance with a guy and his dog where I stepped on all five of their feet, warily watched another guy with a "Will poeticize for a decent beer" sign around his neck, and to top it all off my designated driver never showed up with the short bus, so I stayed too long to be able to write anything worthwhile...let alone "cultural."

Yeah, that's what happened. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

December 08, 2004

Plea of In-Vanity

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see or hear the word "vanity"?

Vanity Fair, the magazine? Vanity Fair, the book? (The movie? Probably not.) Vanity license plates? The cabinet that sits in your bathroom? Vanity the sin? Vanity the singer? Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities"? Carnival of the Vanities?

For me, it's none of the above. It's the oft-repeated line, "Vanity, thy name is woman." It's a very common saying, even though that's not actually the Shakespeare quote; it's "Frailty, thy name is woman." Which makes me wonder, are we women now more willing to cop to vanity than frailty?

Makes sense to me -- I'd far rather have someone consider me vain than weak. Vanity is almost the national pastime for the women of America. (It may very well be for the women of any or all of the other countries but it would be sheer hubris to assume I could speak for them.) Even if they're busy eschewing vanity, it's still a part of their lives. Find me a woman in this country who doesn't know what Botox is; whether or not she would ever consider using such a thing, I guarantee you every woman you know can tell you what its cosmetic purpose is.

Why am I going on about this? Tonight I made a change in my appearance. And while I try as hard as, if not harder than, the next woman to look after my appearance -- beauty queen I am not, but Vanity and I are well acquainted -- I am dreading tomorrow and all the comments.

I would prefer it if people didn't feel the need to say anything (or quite so much) about it. It's as though no one believes in the unexpressed thought anymore. We're all so busy looking after everyone's self-esteem that is has become almost rude not to say something complimentary -- or, at the very least, say something observational that can pass for a compliment -- when a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance does something in the name of Vanity.

Tomorrow, there will be only one person's opinion that I will seek out and truly want on this particular change. The rest will be naught but annoying chaff for me to wade through and brush aside with (perhaps) false modesty. Because it's not that I don't want people to think I look good -- Vanity dictates that I must -- but that I don't really need them to tell me that they think I look good. I don't handle that as well as I might.

Maybe because Vanity, once she has been assuaged, becomes her evil twin, Pride, and asks, "Does that mean we didn't look good yesterday?" Or maybe she's just a capricious bitch and there's just no making her happy. Who knows?

December 07, 2004

Is that a Roadblock, or are you happy to see me?

The title has absolutely nothing to do with tonight's episode of Amazing Race 6, but it made me smile and that was good enough for me. I wasn't feeling my best today, so the show was pretty much the highlight of the day.

I was thrilled to see Don and Mary Jean get saved by a non-elimination round, though I have my concerns about whether they'll be able to recover enough to not be eliminated after the next leg. You kind of have to admire how simply nice Kris and Jon seem to be; her peppy-but-not-annoying attitude won my respect tonight. Does anyone else find it as scary as we do that Jonathan is even thinking about procreating?

Unfortunately, this week's Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ is currently undergoing an official recount. The panel has differing results, compounded by the fact that there were so many "honeys" to keep track of -- a season high of 11 -- not to mention the "boo boo" and "sweethearts" thrown in for good measure. (Plus, Don tossed a "diddle" out there, which was so crack-up inducing that a TiVo replay for the few minutes after that is needed for the judges.)

But, until further notice, here you have it. One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 4 = 18

December 06, 2004

Caught in a Web of life

Sometimes it feels a bit like I live my life on the Internet. I've been happily cavorting around it for a full third of my life, and it has both taken me places and taken on dimensions that I never could have imagined.

For instance, do you recall the Sandra Bullock movie, The Net? I remember seeing it when it first came out in 1995 (I have a thing for Sandra Bullock, okay? This was post-Speed and she could do no wrong, so leave me and my girl-crush alone.) and while it wasn't exactly a cinematic masterpiece, there was one scene that stuck with me long after the movie, because I thought the mere idea of it was so freaking absurd.

Near the beginning, when we see that Angela rarely leaves her house and lives a lonely but successful life as a computer debugger working from home, she goes online to order a pizza to be delivered to her. I remember thinking, "Oh, come on, you must be kidding me! Someone actually ordering a pizza over the Internet...that'll be the day!"

Now, of course, not only do we (read: I) order pizza online, but our groceries, our adult products, our health and beauty items, our dinner reservations, our movie tickets and DVDs, and pretty much anything else we can imagine, without leaving the comfort of our homes or offices. We've even made a game out of it! And it all seems so commonplace now that I feel so naive looking back at my reaction to that part of the movie at the time. Ah, what a mere decade and a dotcom revolution can do.

But there are times when I trip over the littlest of things in blogland and it makes me feel like a complete e-novice. Example: w00t! I started to see it used really regularly a few months ago, and I was stymied by what it meant. Obviously, in context it was an expression of delight and excitement, but what did it mean? What in the WWW is going on out there that I have no clue about whatsoever? How can this be? Am I that old (quiet!) and out of touch all of a sudden?

But where there's a will, there's an Internet way. Last night, when querying my brother about its meaning (after all, he's a computer geek, I figured he should know these things), he practically slapped me upside the head and said, simply, "Google it." Duh.

So that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what I did. And, demonstrating how amazing a resource Wikipedia is, it coughed up a comprehensive definition complete with origin theories, found here. (Why quote when one can link?) Of course, there was no great revelation in it for me -- it means exactly what I thought it meant -- but the simple comfort of knowing why the hell they put zeros in there instead of Os made my day. All is right again in my Internet world.

But right now I must bid you adieu, as I have some more Christmas shopping to go take care of tonight. Only 18 more days to go -- w00t!

December 04, 2004

Nights on the Town, Part 1

Okay, without further ado -- namely some very weird stuff going on with our wireless network at the homestead -- here is the "long awaited" Part 1. Woo-hoo! (Stop rolling your eyes, it's not nice.)

Wednesday was such a fantastic day it still makes me smile to think about it. The daytime part, while fun for me, you would find fairly dull to hear about so I'll skip to the afternoon, when a friend and I set out for dinner and a concert in The Big City.*

I had taken the entire day off from work in order to go up to San Francisco at a more leisurely pace and a far more convenient time than trying to drive north during the oft-nightmarish commute. I did research ahead of time on the parking situation because, in case you don't know it, parking in SF can be the equivalent of the fifth level of Hell and can cost you as much as a fifth of good scotch. And as I didn't really know the area of the city we were headed to very well, being somewhat prepared seemed like a good idea.

Thanks to a new feature on Yahoo! Maps called SmartView, I was able to see in two clicks exactly where the nearest parking garage was in relation to our destination. Knowing that I wasn't going to have to drive around for blocks trying to pick out a decent garage was a huge relief.

Since that was so quick and easy, I spent some time checking out the other offerings from SmartView, among which was "Food and Dining." Click! All the Japanese restaurants within a square mile. Click! All the seafood restaurants. Click! All the steakhouses. There were only two, which is probably why one caught my eye immediately. Two more clicks and I was at a site where I could make a reservation without jumping through a million hoops, and we were set for dinner. Knowing that I wasn't going to have to walk around for blocks trying to decide between a dozen different restaurants, then see how long the wait might be, was a huge relief.

With all this efficiency, we were up there and parked in record time. And far too early! We got there at 4:00 and our dinner reservations weren't 'til 6:00. We walked to the venue, which was less than half a block away from the garage, then walked to the restaurant so we'd know where it was, and still had an hour and fifty-five minutes left to kill. So we hung a right and started walking, then kept walking when we didn't find anyplace to kill that time.

In the first of two occurrences of a stunning lack of foresight for the evening, I had worn the single worst pair of shoes I own for walking around SF. I simply hadn't anticipated that we would be hoofing it for that long -- after all, I'd done all the planning so that the entire evening was to be within a mere three blocks! But when we continued to not find anywhere along our path to hang out for a while, we kept walking.

Now, here's another thing you may not know about SF. It is comprised of many diverse and often interesting neighborhoods, and the demarcation between them can be surprisingly brief. In other words, within a block, the entire character of a street can change, and not always for the better. You can turn a corner and wonder, "How did I end up here?"

Remember how I said this wasn't a part of the city that I was all that familiar with beforehand? Well, I committed the novice blunder of blunders in San Francisco and I walked us right out of Nob Hill and right into the Tenderloin. Nothing bad happened, but I could tell it wasn't an area where we were going to want to hang out as darkness fell. As soon as I figured out where we were, I did a mental head slap and got us the heck out of there. So we kept walking, making a loop back to where we started, slower and slower as my feet started to hurt more and more, but still got to the restaurant a half hour early for our reservations

Luckily, the terrific staff at Ruth's Chris Steak House was ready for us anyway. And, oh my goodness, what an experience it was. I have wanted to eat there for ages, but it had never happened. I could go on and on about every aspect of the meal and the service, but I will just say this: I had the single best steak dinner of my entire life and I have never received better service or had a better overall dining experience. That kind of thing comes at a price, but I think it was worth every penny.

Following a very long, unhurried meal, we made our way back the blissfully short three blocks to where the concert was being held, The Grand at the Regency Center. It's a relatively new, and somewhat unusual, venue for concerts and while it's beautiful, it's also acoustically and seating-challenged. As in, sound bounces around all the marble at a deafening level** and it holds 1000+ people but there is only room for maybe 200 to sit. Thus, the dreaded "General Admission" means that if you were not among the people who were already standing in line when we walked past to go to dinner, your chances of finding a seat were not exactly good. (As in, not a chance.) We made our way upstairs, which provided a decent view of the stage for short me and a wonderful escape route for the smoke of all the weed that was being fired up below us. Contact high, anyone?

But all that didn't really matter. We were there to see John Fogerty and the man rocked. Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up before I was born, but I love their music. And, let's face it, Fogerty was CCR. (His Grammy-winning "Blue Moon Swamp" is the only CD that never comes out of rotation in my car's stereo -- it's great driving music.) For two solid hours, he played with abandon, mixing up the old and the new and making everyone forget that he's almost 60 years old. He kept the talking to a minimum and let his guitar speak for him. It was a great concert and I loved every minute of it.

We tumbled back out onto the street with the satisfied crowd when it was over; chilled and slightly deaf but happy and humming our favorites. There was a long drive back home, but the car was warm, the company was great and the CD player was pumping out those favorites again, keeping us wrapped up in a haze of music and nostalgia for just a little longer.

*Technically, San Francisco is smaller than San Jose, both in population and square miles. But SF grabbed the bigger cultural marbles early on, so they get the moniker of "The City," much to the annoyance of Silicon Valleyites.

**This led to the second occurrence of my stunning lack of foresight for the evening: I neglected to bring ear plugs, which has become my cardinal rule for concert-going since I hit my thirties. My ears were not terribly happy with me by the end of the night, but they're stuck with me so we eventually kissed and made up.

December 02, 2004

Nights on the Town, Part 2

The mind is an amazing thing. I was practically forcing myself to stay awake for the last 20 minutes of the drive home from San Francisco tonight, and I was certain I would get in, hit the bed and fall deeply to sleep. Well, by the time I got ready to turn in, I had woken up. Once I checked a few blogs, I was raring to go!

The story of last night's adventure (Part 1) is going to have to wait, because it deserves a full treatment. (No one ever said I had to be chronological.) But tonight's, while fun, wasn't the same kind of experience. Through a friend at work, I got VIP tickets to the annual Concert for Kids sponsored by my favorite local radion station, KFOG. (Which, by the way, is one of the only stations still streaming live over the Internet. If you like what they call "World Class Rock," I recommend you give them listen sometime.)

The tickets also included entry into an pre-event that was being called a "Gourmet Soiree," i.e., free food and drink, at The War Memorial Opera House. And gourmet it was, but I'm not so sure about the soiree part. Standing in line waiting for a nibble of food, tasty as they were, is not necessarily my idea of a party. I have no idea how much people paid to get in to this part, but I hope it either wasn't a lot or they made up for it with all the free alcohol that was a lot easier to get your hands on!

Some of the restaurants whose delights I got to sample included Jack Falstaff, BIX, and Postrio, which served a killer dessert, and wines by Korbel and Cakebread Cellars. But "sample" was the key word there, and I had been told it was dinner. One nibble every 10 minutes, if I was lucky, wasn't going to cut it, especially if I kept going back to the Korbel table, which was serving some good stuff and was the only place to bring tchatchkes.

So, after poking our heads downstairs to see why "Buffet" and "Rest Rooms" were on the same sign, we headed back out into the chilly SF night for a real bite to eat. However, unlike in other cities, there aren't a plethora of restaurants right near two major cultural centers like the Opera House and Davies Symphony Hall. Unless we just walked the wrong way, of course. To make a long-ish, foot-aching story shorter, we ended up at McDonald's because it was there or "The All-Star Cafe," which I'm sure hasn't seen a star in...well...forever.

I had never been to Davies Symphony Hall, home of the SF Symphony (natch), before this, and it is a gorgeous place. Not knowing what to expect from our "Loge" seating tickets, we were pleasantly surprised by being in a box with an excellent view of the stage. We must have been in a box reserved for sponsors, because we were the only ones there for the first half, and only a few more people showed for this sold-out event.

Because we were there early, after ditching the Soiree early, we hung out in the Loge Lounge and found that we could reserve our table for intermission where, if we wished, there would be drinks waiting for us when we emerged from the hall. We wished, we paid, and it was so. It was pretty cool to sit there, drinks in hand, looking down upon the poor, huddled masses lined up at the bar beneath us. Okay, mean but cool and I hardly ever get to do stuff like that so I decided to enjoy it.

The show itself was great. Jamie Cullum was a surprise treat, because the boy is a born performer and he put on a hell of a show. I was familiar with only one of his songs before this, and I liked it, but it's nothing like seeing him live. He reminds me very much of Harry Connick, Jr., without the New Orleans polish. And, of course, Chris Isaak was great. From what I understand, he always is, and he didn't disappoint; a bunch of Christmas tunes, many from his new Christmas album, and all his hits. He's a real jokester and he has great audience interaction, which made for a fun time.

After the long drive back to Silicon Valley -- made shorter by biting the bullet and taking the dreaded Highway 101 home instead of the more pleasant, but nap-inducing, Highway 280 -- and much time spent here, it's now time for Dream Land.

Baby, baby (No, not the Amy Grant song.)

Between network problems at home and a suddenly quite busy social schedule, this is the first chance I've had to post since Tuesday night. I plan to write about a fantastic night I had in SF last night, but as I have another fabulous night in SF tonight, I don't know when that is going to happen.

But The Amazing Race 6 rocks on, and I would feel remiss if I didn't take the opportunity (on the company dime, for shame) to share this week's Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™ with you, belated as it is. I find I am getting so used to hearing "baby" all the time, that I have now incorporated it into my personal dialogue. Mailman? "Good job, baby!" Bagger at the grocery store? "You can do it, baby!" My co-workers? "Baby, please!!!" I think I even called my mother "baby" the other day.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 3 = 25

With the Detour and Roadblock being real bitches for some of the teams, there was a lot of babying going on, up from last week. (Although Hayden says "honey" so often, I just may have to start adding that in to the count. Thoughts?)

How many of you would have chosen that insane counting challenge instead of the build it one? I thought poor Don was going to have a coronary adding up those little stuffed animals, but I loved how he tried to get the IKEA employee to take pity on him on account of his age! And I feel bad that the sisters tried so hard on the "Hay Fever" challenge and came away with naught but empty, bleeding hands to show for it. Sadly, now we'll never know if Lena would have had the chance to show off any of her striptease aerobics abilities later in the race.

P.S. You'll see that there is a logo over there to the right for the 2004 Weblog Awards, along with a link. Even if you choose to (break my heart and) not go vote for OPO to make it to the finals in the Best Culture Blog category, I highly encourage you to go check out the nominees in any of the categories. Last year I found some great blogs through these Awards, through some of which I found some of you!