Oh I get it...like humor...but different.

Friday, April 30, 2004

Panasonic Auto-Stop Electric Pencil Sharpener

I have a new eletronic pencil sharpener. It is ergonomically designed with little suction cups on its bottom, and it stops automatically when the pencil is sharp. It looks like it was designed by Mercedes Benz or something.

Add that to the fact that it is Friday, and I am just tickled pink. I am finer than a frog's hair split four ways. Any better and I'd be twins. It's more fun than puppies on linoleum. More fun than a sack full of frogs.

I think I need to lie down now.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Splitting Lanes

When I first moved to California, one of the things that surprised me most is the fact that motorcycles are allowed to split lanes, that is, drive along the striping between the cars. I have somewhat gotten used to it, but it still amazes me to be driving down the 405 at 75 mph and have a motorcycle roar by me, between me and the car next to me, right at my elbow. The noisier ones startle me. Heck, they ALL startle me. They come up so fast, and there they are...so close you can smell the hot oil. And then, whoosh, they are gone. What is really amusing is when a whole pack of them roar by....whaaa whaaa whaaa whaaaaa....I don't have any idea at all why there are not more impalas impaled on motorcycles. How is it that people changing lanes don't bowl these guys over like nine pins? I guess the bikers are very good at anticipating that sort of thing, reading body language, watching head movements, following eye movements. I don't know.

Another interesting Cali thing is that there are bike lanes everywhere here. In my town it is a rare road that doesn't have a bike lane, and a decent-sized one at that, next to the curb. OK, that isn't shocking. But what DID surprise me is that cars are allowed to drive in the bike lane for the last 100 feet before an intersection if they are turning right. So I am sitting at a light, waiting to go straight, and suddenly there is a Lexus beside me, in this not-anywhere-near-standard-size lane. I was...surprised. Of course, I have gotten used to that too, and only rarely do I see cars and bicycles competing for the same lane space.

And since I am on bicycles....Let me tell you about the bicycle uniforms. In my town people ride bicycle in packs, and they all have uniforms. OK, not uniforms. I call them that. They are these high-dollar, ritzy spandex getups with brand names and sponsor names and I don't know what all over them. They are riding bicycles that cost as much as my first car and wearing outfits that cost as much as the bicycle. And they ride together 20, 30, even more at a time. (Can you imagine THAT in a not-anywhere-near-standard-size lane?) I am sure they are bicycle clubs or something. They ride single bikes, tandem bikes, recumbent bikes, all kinds of bikes. Couples dress in matching uniforms. Boy, do they have a LOT of money! And VERY fit calves! My husband and I don't remark on the packs any more. What we DO remark on is seeing someone, anyone, riding a beach-cruiser bike in cutoffs and a tee shirt. Now THAT is worth a comment!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Southern Girl

My long-time best friend, C., was raised one block from me in a small town in Arkansas. One small-town block. Three houses away. So imagine my surprise recently when she told me that she didn't think she was "Southern." All I can figure is that there was some sort of a bump in the Mason-Dixon line (like a wormhole or a fluctuation in the space-time continuum), because I know I was raised in the South (cap S). I guess it is the difference between her mother and mine. But my mother was every inch the Southern lady. Just get my mom mad and listen to her accent deepen. She never raises her voice, but she could make me feel like I was being sliced and diced.

But whether I have a "southern" accent or an "Arkansas" accent or just a good ol' "hick" accent, I have an accent, and it has been the source of amusement to store clerks and fellow employees and bus passengers all over SoCal. After three years out here, I feel that my accent has faded considerably. But I am forced to rethink that assessment every time I say "Thank you" to a 7-11 clerk and hear the standard response: "You're not from here, are you." In fact, like "I can name that tune in three notes, Bob," I can elicit that response with a single word: "hello."

For example, I have a tendency to put too many syllables in some words (hotel = ho tay el) and too few in others (you all = yall). And my long a's sometimes sound like long i's (so that Katie can be mistaken for Heidi). But that is not what it is that makes the biggest difference between Nancy speak and SoCal speak. How do I explain it. My ups are where their downs are and my downs are where their ups are. It is a different lilt, a different rhythm. It's like every sentence ends with a question mark instead of a period or something.... It's just different.

The president of the company at which I currently work loves to introduce me to visitors so they can hear me talk. He takes great pride in the fact that I am from Arkansas. I think it is his version of "hiring the handicapped." I don't mind. I turn it on and throw in a few "Howdie doos" and an "I'll swan!" and an "It's nice to meet yall." And if they are really curious, I press a white handkerchief to my brow, complain of the vapors, and offer everyone a mint julep.

One time my daughter, my husband, and I were riding a city bus from the bus station in San Diego out to the zoo. There was a man on the bus who was a bit, ummmm, crazy. He was talking non-stop to anyone and everyone. My daughter and I didn't say a word, not to him, not to each other. However, as we got off the bus, he said to us, with a grin, "Southern Belles, eh?" I will never figure out how he knew that. I don't THINK we had our southern belle name tags on that day.....

Someday I am going to make a comprehensive translation guide for SoCal speak (e.g., Interstate 5 = THE 5; sliding glass door = slider). I think it will provide valuable assistance to those who follow me out here.

Yeah, I know. I am just a country girl with delusions of grandeur. So sue me.

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Friday, April 23, 2004

You Can Check Out, but You Can Never Leave

Here is what I am learning about looking for a job in the U.S.of A.

If you don't live in California and you are wanting a job in California, California companies don't trust that you really MEAN it, because you don't actually know what the cost of living is like out here. Therefore, California companies are starting to look more and more for people who already live in California and have recovered from the original sticker shock of moving out here (through intense therapy or, perhaps, a brain transplant). Unfortunately, one can understand their fears; many have taken candidates all the way through to the final offer before the candidate has realized that a house worth $150K in Podunk is going to run him $1mil in Ellay.

If you do live in California and you would like to move OUT of California and get a job back in the Midwest or the South, the companies there don't think that you really MEAN it because, after all, why would someone from THERE (Ellay) want to work HERE (Podunk), and they aren't really going to STAY, and you know the guy's wife is going to hate it, and what if he's into surfing or boating and there's no water around here, and the first time it turns cold he will turn tail.....

So...if you are out there, you can't get in here; and if you are in here, you can never get out there.

*banging my cup against the bars*

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Well, I am mourning the death of my electronic pencil sharpener.

*dabbing at eyes with hankie*

I loaned it to the "OTHER" Nancy, and she killed it.

Someone had the brilliant idea that it would make good giveaways for trade shows to have pencils made of recycled denim. And the "OTHER" Nancy was sharpening the pencils. Unfortunately, my pencil sharpener seemed to be allergic to denim. God rest its circuits. *sigh*

Do you have any idea how useless an editor is without an electronic pencil sharpener? I might just as well go home.


The "OTHER" Nancy said it was a "mercy killing" because it was an unattractive pencil sharpener. I think she puts too much emphasis on physical beauty.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

An apology

I would like to apologize for at least one of my gross generalizations in a previous post. I have come to see the error of my ways. The fact that people don't say hi to me is not due to lack of manners on their part. It is due to the fact that I am, in point of fact, invisible. I didn't know. I am sorry.

Here is how I figured it out. It is some amazing sleuthery...

Last night my husband and I were walking our dog. Let's say, for the sake of a visual reference point, that we were walking south on the sidewalk. Walking toward us, to the north, was a young Asian mother (how DO people stay that skinny? I swear I don't know) and her son. Driving along the street beside us, going north, was another Asian woman in a white car. Got the picture?

Just as Asian mom reaches me, nearly stepping on the dog, Asian driver calls out, "Can you help me?" Apparently she needs directions. I stop and turn toward her, ready to give her aid. But she is not looking at me. She is looking at Asian mom. I look at Asian mom, who continues on her merry way, walking over my dog, as if she hears nothing. She is ignoring Asian driver. Hmmm. Well, no biggie. There's still me. I turn back to Asian driver with a solicitous smile, again ready to offer aid. Asian driver looks past/through/over me and drives on.

See? I am invisible. First Asian mom walked all over my dog. Second, Asian driver didn't even see me, though I was six feet away from her. I had no idea. I really thought I was visible. Silly me. So, I apologize for my rudeness in ascribing rudeness to my neighbors. I guess this explains a lot.

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Monday, April 19, 2004

Caution: Gross Generalizations Ahead

So my question is this: is there some sort of form that people sign when they are preparing to have children in southern California that is an agreement that they will not raise their kids with manners? Surely it must be widespread and well organized. It can't be chance. Kindly consider the following, offered by way of evidence.

1. No one in SoCal ever says "excuse me." If someone walks in front of you when you are perusing books at Barnes and Nobles, or steps on your foot as s/he pushes his/her butt past your face in the theater, no one, but no one, ever says "excuse me." I realize that I am probably hypersensitive to this issue, being a child of The South as I am, but how much energy would it take? Three syllables. You can mumble, I don't care. I'd even take one syllable "'Scuse."

2. No one in SoCal ever says hi. (If they do, I guarandamntee you that they are from out of the state. Ask them. You'll see.) I have lived in my neighborhood for nearly three years now. I have lived with the same neighbors (plus or minus five, allowing for the transient nature of my city) for the same amount of time. I can walk my dog right by them walking their dogs, and they will not, not, not say hi. They won't even make eye contact. Do I look like someone who is going to try to convert them to Mormonism if they make eye contact? I am a gray-haired old lady, not likely to be a serial killer. I don't have Amway boxes in my garage. What would it hurt? (Again, forgive me....I was raised by people who would carry on a conversation with a fire hydrant and leave it changed for life.)

3. Now this isn't manners, per se, but as long as I am on the subject---no one in California would ever think of knocking on your door to "borrow a cup of sugar." In fact, our next-door neighbors, who became good friends of ours in spite of being Cali natives, warned us about that when we moved in. "Never," said Bev, "never ever go to your neighbors to borrow something. We just don't DO that in California." Now I have to say, I did indeed borrow Bev's ladder once, and I even left a spare key with her. I think I was trying very hard to make her a southern neighbor. She came close, but still no cigar. She sure didn't leave a key with ME! (But what do I know. When my next-door-neighbors in Arkansas were getting ready to move, it was a real challenge sorting out who had whose tools, garden hose, etc.)

4. Drive down the 5 or the 405. Watch people changing lanes. See? Cars in California are sold without the turn signal option. It's as clear as day. No signal. A Cali native signals intention to change lanes by....changing lanes. You can move, you can stay where you are, he doesn't care. Here he comes. But if you make the decision to stay, you better be ready to deal with his wrath. What the hell are you doing in the lane he intends to occupy, you &%#^)!?!?

5. There is a positive relationship between the level of stupidity of the driver and the level of rudeness of the driver. The stupider they are, the ruder the are, and the wronger YOU are for being on their road, in their lane, in that intersection, in your driveway, in your bathroom, whatever. Breathing. You should not be breathing. Where in the world did anyone get the impression that Californians are laid back? What marketing whiz started THAT whopper? Put a steering wheel in the grasp of any of them and just watch. Laid back my ass.

The question is, of course, can this be reversed? If we moved enough southerners in here, could we, by force of will, overcome the rampant unfriendliness? Unfortunately, no. I am sad to say that it is contagious and infects even the healthiest well-mannered person. After a while, one just gives up.


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Friday, April 09, 2004


Re/ the post below: I knew you would want to know this.

As of yesterday at 5:00, just moments before they reopened the street, people were still driving up to the barracades, looking confused, and doing a U-turn. In fact, at noon yesterday, when K and I were entering the complex, we saw a car drive right through between the "Road Closed" barracades and keep on a-goin'. We were tempted to sit there and wait for him/her to come back out so we could point and laugh. But we had more sense and better things to do....

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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Road Closed

Over two weeks ago, the street department in my fair city put up a warning sign regarding an upcoming closure of the street outside my neighborhood. Now this was not a SMALL sign; it was a 6 x 8 foot electronic sign that detailed what part of the street would be closed and from what date to what date. The week before the closure, they added smaller signs along the side of the road. The weekend before, they had the flashing sawhorse signs standing by. There was PLENTY of warning.

Bet you know where I am going with this.

Why are smart people so stupid? Why do they drive by the 6x8 electronic sign and all the smaller orange signs and all the flashing signs, right up to the blockade? Why do they then sit there as if they are waiting for the light to change? Why is there a constant U-turn parade outside the gate of my neighborhood? Do people think those signs apply only to OTHER people but not to them? Do they think that someone is going to come out and move the blockades and say, "Oh, YOU can come through...this doesn't apply to YOU!"

How long do you think this will last? The road is only going to be closed for five days. I wonder if the motorists will get used to it before then?

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Monday, April 05, 2004

THOSE people

I have become one of "those" people. You know them...the ones that your mom hoped you would grow up to be...the ones who put the little toilet seat liners on the toilet lid before they sit down. I am ashamed. Aghast. But I have something to say in my own defense.

I work in a VERY nice office building with a lot of very upscale women. They spend more on a pair of shoes than I spend on a month's worth of groceries. So why in God's name are they air pee-ers? You know the ones I mean...the ones who hover a foot over the toilet seat and let'er rip, sprinkling everything liberally. Keep in mind, there is a dispenser of toilet liners (some call them toilet gaskets) in EVERY stall. Why not use one? Why air pee? Why dribble on your expensive shoes? But still they do.

For a long time, I tried the "be alert" approach to avoid sitting on a wet rim. I have to admit, I am less than totally alert some times, and a few wet bottoms were more than enough. So, after *mumble mumble* years of flaunting bathroom seat hygiene, I have become a gasket user. My mother would be thrilled.

And while I am at my office bathroom rant, what IS it with people taking cell phone calls in the bathroom? Do they think that the people on the other end really want to hear that barrel echo and those strange noises in the background? Do they think the poor schmuck in the next stall really wants to hear how wasted they were Friday night and what the guy looked like Saturday morning? I guess I know why they spend all that money on shoes, but the guys they are picking up don't sound like the kind to appreciate the investment.

And piling their books and briefcases on the counter so that the only way to wash one's hands is to douse their belongings?

And shouting to one another from one stall to the next?

Oh my God. I AM one of those people. The gripey ones.


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