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September 29, 2005

Help Save Field's

Keep it Field's

As you're most likely aware if you live anywhere in the Midwest, Marshall Field's was purchased by Federated Department Stores (which owns Macy's). It was just announced last week that the Marshall Field's name will be replaced by Macy's.

Field's is a landmark and a Chicago tradition. The Marshall Field's Company has been around for over 150 years; the State Street store has been open, I believe, since 1881. The thing *I* remember Marshall Field's for is Christmas. Every year in November, the Walnut Room--the "fancy" restaurant in the middle of Field's--gets a gigantic, three-story-high Christmas tree. It used to be real, until it became a fire hazard. Every year the tree has a different theme, and the entire store is decorated to match. The windows along State Street and around the corner are filled with scenes from the well-known fairy tale chosen as the theme for the year. They've done everything from Snow White to Harry Potter.

Every year on Veteran's Day, my mom, sister, grandma, grandpa and I would take the train downtown. We'd get to Field's early, rent a locker for our big winter coats, and stand in line for what felt like hours (this was before restaurants had pagers). We'd always observe the moment of silence for the soldiers while in line, and smile up at Grandpa while we did. We'd finally make it to the front. We'd ask to be seated right under the tree. Grandma would make my sister and me pose for a dozen different pictures after we ordered our food, usually Field's Specials (gigantic salads with everything), and hot chocolate in souvenir Mistletoe Bear mugs.

After lunch, we'd start our Christmas shopping. We'd spend time appreciating the windows before walking back to the train station for home. That was our family's tradition almost every year I've been alive.

It just won't be the same without Marshall Field's. Macy's is everywhere--Field's on State Street is Chicago.

If you can take a second, sign the petition here: Save Marshall Field's

Just for good measure, a picture from last Thanksgiving: the Marshall Field's Clock on State Street

September 27, 2005

A little aggrevation with the morning coffee

It's official. I hate 5:30 Alarm neighbor. I don't even know who it is, but someone in the building next to me sets their alarm for 5:30 and then doesn't turn it off. So it blares ENH ENH ENH ENH for an hour. It's incredibly obnoxious, and when my (very soft radio) alarm is set to go off at 6:15, I spend the last 45 minutes before I have to wake up in a state of annoyed half-sleep. Every. Single. Day. I almost screamed "Turn off your damn alarm!" out the window today.

It's probably the same neighbors whose TV sometimes overpowers mine in volume, and who have woken half of the two buildings (evidenced by a half-dozen windows slamming shut) with Very Loud Sex on occasion.

Really, though. When the weather's such that everyone in the county probably sleeps with open windows, have some consideration! Especially when your building is close enough to another that you could practically spit into your neighbor's bedroom. If it needs to be that loud, then keep your windows closed, at least. Grr!

Great way to start the day, eh? (That should be a line in the next JC song -- every other word rhymes. *g*)

For my own reference -
Laptop Fund: $355 + $115 + $20 = $490

September 19, 2005

High Finance... Or Something

Furthering my quest to be financially responsible, I joined my company's 401(k) today. Now I'm really a grown-up.

I honestly don't know why it took me so long to join. I think in Illinois, I thought this job was temporary. I was determined not to stick with it for more than a year. Then, when I decided I was moving, I didn't know if this job would last here in California. Like, it was a vehicle to make the move, but it didn't have to be anything else. And while I was in Encino, I was miserable, so I really didn't think the job would last long. And with all that uncertainty, why join the 401(k)? Especially when you're not 100% vested for five years, y'know?

Now, I guess it's a sign I'm much happier with work. There's more I want to do with my life, ultimately, including going back to school. But for now, I may as well suck it up, accept my fate, and be responsible for my future retirement. Plus, if I get a 4% raise annually (HA! Ahahahaha! Riiiiight...), I could have $2,534,142.00 when I retire. And I'll still have money when I'm 99 years old. Sounds pretty good, eh?

September 18, 2005

Saturday, Sunday

The trees along my street were trimmed this weekend, and I think that made it feel like fall, somehow. It's been beautiful here, in the 70's and sunny with a bit of a breeze, and the weather along with less leaves on the trees just brought out an autumny feeling.

It's been a moderately productive, mostly relaxing weekend. I spent yesterday going through all my credit card statements since I moved out here. I categorized every penny spent into one of a number of cateogries, then added everything up and averaged it for the year. I also worked on a budget for the coming year. It feels good to be organized and know where money is going (and where it shouldn't be spent!).

Last night, Sean and I went to see the play Ryan's been doing the lighting for. He did a fine job! ;)

I spent today doing laundry, watching Freaks & Geeks, and book shopping. In light of yesterday's financial overhaul, I probably shouldn't have spent the money, but for some reason I never feel guilty about buying books. Even though I have a bunch of books waiting to be read, I bought three more:

  • Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence by Paul Feig. I went specifically for this because, well, he created Freaks & Geeks, which is so, so good, and in doing my usual "new TV show" research, I came across the book. And many good reviews of the book. So.
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. This was recommended to me while searching for the above book (when Barnes & Noble didn't have it). Looks pretty good.
  • Shopgirl by Steve Martin. I picked it up on a whim. It kills me a thousand times over to have the cover from the movie (I hate having books with the cover from the movie!), but I couldn't for the life of me find the original cover in the store. I saw the preview for the movie a few weeks ago and instantly wanted to see it, so I thought I may as well read the book first.

Now the only question is which one to read first. I'll let y'all know how they are once I've finished.

I'm actually looking forward to work tomorrow. Is that weird? I was in a training class for most of last week, and will spend most of this week there as well. But tomorrow I'm in the office. I've kind of been antsy, being away. Like, I know there's a ton I'll need to catch up on, but I'm also looking forward to seeing my coworkers. I guess that's a good sign, but it's a feeling I haven't had towards work in a long, long time.

September 16, 2005

Commercials, Never Again

So I have another "new" show; this one Ryan bought on DVD. We've been watching Freaks & Geeks in this house lately, and it's actually really, really good. I spend about 90% of every episode feeling sorry for one character or another. *laugh* Makes you want to run right out and watch it, eh? You really should. It's funny and quick and real. And the high schoolers actually look like high schoolers. I've seen 7 out of 18 episodes since Wednesday night.

With all these shows on DVD, I'll never be able to watch commercial TV again! I've gotten used to that instant gratification: lingering shot of a character after just having discovered something shocking/revealed something important/etc... fade to black for commercial... and BAM, right back into the thick of things! Without having to wait through the commercial! It's great! And, even better than that? The next episode starts right up when this one ends! TV shows on DVD are definitely the way to go.

In non-TV news, Caitlin is in Chicago right now, staying with my parents. I'm totally jealous, in the way one gets when one hasn't been "home" in over nine months, since last Christmas, and has to pass on the perfect opportunity to go home because plane tickets are too expensive to only go for the weekend. *sigh* Why must travel be so expensive? Anyway, Caitlin auditioned for American Idol today. Sadly, she didn't make it, but I'm sure she was awesome. Since there was no audition in Atlanta this year, and the Tennessee audition was canceled, there were apparently record-breaking crowds for the Chicago audition. Maybe next year, my friend. Maybe next year.

And that, as they say, is that.

September 11, 2005

Four Years Later

In posting my previous entry, I was reminded again that it is September 11th. I felt funny posting on this date and not mentioning it, so. Here's my moment to remember the horror, the loss, the sadness and the fear that was four years ago today. And to remember a more innocent time in our country, before security checks at every large public venue, getting to the airport two hours before your flight, and the USA PATRIOT Act, among the many changes a terrorist attack on the country prompted.


I've been watching a lot of Nip/Tuck lately (which, by the way, is the best show ever!). In fact, it's almost enough to prompt us to get cable. If we weren't all potentially moving out within the next few months, we would. The show is that good. Y'all should watch, seriously. If only for the completely gorgeous, if cocky and slightly raunchy, Dr. Christian Troy. Yum. *laugh* You may have to cover your eyes for the surgery bits (I do), but the show is so complex and well-acted that it's totally worth putting up with the 10% of graphic slight-grossness.

Right now, on the verge of the start of Season 3 (spoilers for the previous two seasons to follow...), Sean McNamara has recovered from being attacked by the Carver and is performing pro bono work on the Carver's other victims. He's in the middle of a separation from his wife, Julia, and has been seeing Christian's ex-girlfriend, porn director Kimber Henry. Matt, the son Sean raised (but did not father... that would be Christian), was involved in a hit-and-run accident back in Season 1 and has not yet come to terms with it. Seventeen-year-old Matt is also reeling from his recent break-up with his 40-something transgendered Life Coach (not that he knows she's a he). And Christian, just having lost his non-biological baby to its biological father (the baby's mother found out she is HIV-positive), has just been sliced by the Carver. We don't know if he survives (but we assume he must, as he is half of McNamara/Troy, Plastic Surgeons). Now, if that's not a gripping television show, I don't know what is!

Speaking of plastic surgery, I guess it was time for Wandering Aimlessly to get a facelift, too. Thanks to Krissy, we have been upgraded!

I'm still playing with things a bit. Commenting is back! One of the huge problems I had with the comment function before was the masses and masses of junk comments I was receiving. In fact, with this upgrade, I'm able to edit comments. I discovered that I had over 25,800 spam comments!! I had turned off email notification back in February when I started getting literally hundreds of spam comments emailed to me every day. Therefore, I set the comment function to Registered Users Only. I haven't completely figured it out yet, but I think you need to register for TypeKey (free). If some of you could try, just so I can see how this works, that'd be good.

And that's about it out of me. It's been a quiet weekend... worked yesteray, bummed around the house today. Sometimes you just need a lazy day or two where you don't get out of your pajamas until well into the afternoon. *g*

Lastly, if you can...

September 08, 2005


I had the day off yesterday, so I took Ryan to Disneyland. He needed a dose of the Happiest Place on Earth. ;) It was great because this is most kids' first week back to school, so the parks were practically deserted.

Ryan he hadn't been to Disneyland since childhood. We got there a little after 10 and started out at California Adventure. We knocked out everything he cared to do (Soarin', Grizzly River Rapids, the ferris wheel, the swings in the big orange, Hollywood Tower of Terror, and a few smaller things; California Screamin' was shut down. Boo.) and made our way across to Disneyland a little after noon.

Ryan and I were very glad to find out that many of the restaurants in the park serve vegan alternatives. We went up to the Info Board and asked the girl working where Ryan could eat, and she called a couple restaurants for us to give us alternatives. Very helpful!

The longest lines (by far) were 30-minute waits for Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain. We got fast passes for Indy and decided to endure the line at Splash Mountain. Most other lines were ten minutes or less. Score! We did Pirates, Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain (twice), Splash Mountain, Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, Gadget's Go Coaster, Snow White, Winnie the Pooh, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Pinocchio, the teacups, Star Tours...

And Space Mountain is very recently reopened (it was still being worked on in June when I was there with Sarah and Aarti), so that was neat. It's so much better now! I don't know if they've redone the one at WDW like this, but it's set up more like a normal roller coaster, with side-by-side seating and lap bars and everything. This fantastic music is playing out of speakers in the backs of the seats through the whole thing, which totally *made* the ride, I think. So great. Hee!

It was SO much fun. We shut down the park at 8, hit World of Disney to pick up a wedding gift for some friends, and were back home a little after 9... twelve hours after leaving the house in the morning. *g* I got a little sunburned and my legs are tired today. I'm definitely wearing comfortable shoes to work!

September 05, 2005

Labor Day

Today, there will be no activity that could even be construed as being work. Good thing I got my laundry done yesterday. Heh.

We saw The 40 Year Old Virgin last night, and OMG with the funny! And, as an added bonus, there was a scene near the beginning where Andy was walking down Ventura Blvd. in Encino, and he strolled right past my old Encino office. *laugh* That was probably filmed while I worked there, too, so I wonder how I missed it.

I've been feeling nostalgic this morning, for some reason. I was browsing a website full of Disney fonts (with pictures taken at the theme parks to demonstrate each font), and I got that pang of longing. I want to go to Walt Disney World. It's been over two years since I was last there, which is in sharp contrast to the preceeding few years when I made the trip to the Land of the Mouse more than once a year on average, when I wasn't already working there. Disneyland is nice, but it just doesn't cut it.

I'm pretty boring of late. This past week was jam-packed with activity and very enjoyable, but it's not anything that's edge-of-your-seat or anything. On Tuesday I went to dinner at a little Italian restaurant in Studio City with Alicia and Crystal. We had quite a time chatting over our gnocci. Mmm. Wednesday was dinner at SanSei in Sherman Oaks with Jan and Sean (more enjoyable conversation), followed by ice cream at Cold Stone. On Thursday, Sandra and I went shopping for a farewell gift for one of our employees. We spent hours walking around the mall in our suits and heels, and eventually crawled into Payless to purchase flip flops for our aching feet. Afterwards, dinner at El Torito. Friday was the farewell party at Yamato's, where the food is prepared at the table with flashing knives and billowing flames and lots of excitement.

Basically, I ate my way through last week. Yee-haw!

And this weekend has been full of Nip/Tuck Season Two (SUCH a good show! We're almost contemplating getting cable so we can watch the third season as it comes...). We did go down to UC-Irvine for a little party Saturday night, which was fun. Felt like I was back in college, only this time we were hanging with the grad student crowd. Good times. There was the aforementioned laundry and movie going of yesterday, and... we come to the conclusion that my life is dreadfully boring. I'm okay with that, though.

September 02, 2005


As I watch all the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, it makes me unbelievably sad. I've never been to New Orleans, but I always thought I'd like to go. Now, it's gone. Even if they rebuild, which I suspect they will, it'll never be the same.

I heard on the news yesterday about that "Renegade" school bus a twenty-year-old boy had borrowed (with permission from the police, he said) to pick up any refugees he could find and drive them to the Astro Dome in Houston. And how at first, the folks at the Astro Dome didn't want to let them in, an entire busload of desperate people, because they hadn't come officially. I'm so glad the Astro Dome threw their plan out the window and decided to accomodate anyone who came.

And also, how the people arriving at the Astro Dome wanted nothing more than to watch the TV news, to get information on their beloved city. Strange how they were there, but knew less of the situation than the rest of us across the country and the world, glued to our television sets. And banks of telephones are set up at the Astro Dome so that refugees can contact their friends and families. It's amazing what people can do. Disasters bring out the best (and, unfortunately, the worst) in humanity.

I have a friend from near New Orleans, and last I heard he was overseas teaching English to children in Korea. I hope now he didn't move back home. And that his family is safe. I also have a friend from Biloxi, Mississippi who has been in my thoughts. I hope he and his family are safe, too.

It's easier with something like 9/11 because there's someone to blame it on. The terrorists did it. We can be mad at the terrorists and point fingers and even, if we desire, try to fight back. The devestation caused by a natural disaster, while equally atrocious, can't be pinned on anyone but Mother Nature.

A friend pointed this out to me, and I thought it was pretty good. Michael Moore can be a little out there, but he does have a point.

Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.


Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.