Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Christmas 2014.  God bless us, every one.  (Says the Buddhist atheist.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Saga of the Office Plant

Sorry for the lack of blogitude lately.  It's the time of year.  Silver bells and snowmen and walking in a winter wonderland and all that.  Actually, this being Dallas, the weather's been a lot like spring.  It only got seriously cold in the last few days and the odds of snow are kind of remote.  Dallas is persnicketty like that.  One year it snowed six inches on the first day of spring while on Christmas it was 76 degrees and sunny.  I blame global warming.  And our weather guy voted for Mitt Romney.

Speaking of great seismic shifts in the fabric of reality, and my boss told me the other day that he's giving me more work.  He said that's the problem with doing a great job.  You do a great job, they give you more work.  It's fine, though, really, except that one of the cases goes to trial in three weeks and nothing, and I do mean nothing, is ready.  I'm frantically paging through my project management books over here to design a critical path and a PERT diagram so as to get it all done. (Project management stuff is great.  I'm giving serious thought to going back to school long enough to pick up a certificate in PM.  It couldn't hurt and it might help a lot.  There's just always so much going on.)

To really get an idea of how the new job is going, though, you'd have to talk to my plant.

This plant--I call him Robert and he sings a mean baritone--and I have been together for a long time.  Since about 2007, which is a long time for a plant.  A vendor gave him to me and he's been on my desk ever since, getting bigger, shooting out little baby plants and just in general providing greenery.  I think he's some kind of ivy but I don't really know.  What I have figured out is that if you water him once a week and keep his leaves trimmed, he makes a fine, if quiet, companion.

Robert Plant has seen it all; late nights and early mornings, crazy bosses and great big ugly deadlines.  And lots of ordinary days.  So I'm kinda attached to him, if you hadn't figured that out.  When I finally got my new desk, which took three or so weeks (there's a lack of desk space at this job, but it's getting better). I brought him in from home and put him in charge of the front counter space.  Then Monday came and I took him down to water him.  And that's when all the trouble started.

Robert's planter doesn't have a drip catcher.  I'm not sure why; maybe it was flawed from the beginning.  My MO for watering him has been to put the whole plant in a trash can and water him there, so that any drips run into the trash can.  Great idea, but the first time out of the box at the new job it flat out didn't work.  I put the plant into the trash can, expecting it to catch on the rims, and instead it slid all the way down and got stuck.  Kind of like when a glass bowl that's just the right size accidentally slides into your garbage disposal and--yeah, you can't get a grip on it to get it back out because--yeah.  So Robert's stuck in the trash can and I'm stuck trying to pull out the lining in hopes of jarring him loose.  Instead I tear out the whole lining by accident.  The plant stays right where it is.

There's an obvious solution to this problem, isn't there?  Unlike the glass bowl stuck in the garbage disposal, you can turn the fricking thing upside down and dislodge the plant.  Right.  Except that the plant's full of high-grade expensive dirt and it's a nice carpet, as industrial carpets go.  So I hunted down a box, took everything out of it and tipped the garbage can over into the box.  Er.  It didn't work.  Well, I mean, the plant was dislodged, all right, but I flat out missed the box and ended up with high-grade expensive dirt all over the underside of my desk.


Okay, I cleaned it up as best I could, and that night the janitor came in, probably scratched his head a few times and then vacuumed the rest of it up.  (Hey, I could be a vampire.  I need the native soil of my homeland under my desk or else I shrivel up or something.  It's possible.  I do work nights sometimes.)  And that was my first day at my new desk with my plant.

See above re: project management.  Yeah, there's a certain bitter irony to the whole thing, isn't there?
Well, anyway, if I don't blog before then, happy everything, everybody.  And have a blessed New Year.  And if you bring a plant to work, make sure he has a drip catcher.  Maybe I'll get Robert one for Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What Happens in Phoenix...Part II

Aha! You foolishly thought I'd only write one blog post about our thrilling experience flying to Phoenix!  No such luck. After all, we'd only just managed to get to Phoenix.  We still had to get back.  And why it should be any less interesting on the return trip, I have no idea.  Neither did the travel gods, who for some reason just didn't care for us this time around.

I might add, though, that the time we spent in Phoenix was fine.  We hung around with my parents, sister and other relatives, went to an amazing museum (the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale; definitely check it out if you're ever in the neighborhood) that I had to pry Joan out of with a crowbar, and caught up with some of my friends.  But getting there was not half the fun.  Getting back wasn't very good either.

For the record, I am firing myself as staff travel agent.  Not only did I get us a flight out that required us to catch a Wonder Shuttle at four o'clock in the blessed morning, I got us a flight back that changed planes in Albuquerque.  Flights that change planes need to be avoided like the plague.  Any time you change planes, you multiply the chances that something can go wrong.  And given a chance to go wrong, most things will oblige, at least occasionally.  So we need a new travel agent.  Applications are being solicited through this blog.  All applicants must be marginally sane, understand and believe, as we do, that all airlines are evil, though some are more evil than others.  Okay?  Okay.

Moving on:  Our flight actually arrived in Albuquerque about ten minutes early, and it also showed up at the gate right next to our next departure gate.  This meant that not only did we have time to buy a sandwich, we also didn't need the nice wheelchair guy that showed up to help.  Unfortunately, I'd bought a sandwich in Phoenix, assuming that we wouldn't have time to buy one in Albuquerque.  So we had this slightly smashed roast beef sandwich to share, complete with soggy bread and smears of what looked like salad dressing on the outside of my purse.  Oh well.  It was pretty tasty anyway.

Upon arriving in Phoenix, though, we had a problem.  No ground transportation.  Joan called Wonder Shuttle, which told her to wait until we'd picked up our bags and then call back.  We got the bags (or rather, I got the bags - note to travel agent applicants: I'll still get the bags.  It's why they pay me the big bucks) and Joan called Wonder Shuttle again.  The dispatcher guy told Joan they were "having trouble getting drivers to return to the airport," so it would be 30 to 45 minutes before they could pick us up.

Mind you, they knew we were coming.  We had to give them our flight numbers and all that when we booked (and prepaid for) the ride.  Why they were now telling us, close to midnight at the end of a very long day, that they couldn't pick us up for close to an hour made absolutely no sense.  And what were they doing, in the 15 minutes between our first call and our second call?  Playing "Tetris," apparently.  Or maybe something ruder that can't be typed into a religious-type blog like this one.

Anyway, spending 45 minutes standing outside in the dark and cold at Love Field, which isn't exactly the wisest place for a pair of women to hang out alone at night, wasn't high on either of our lists.  I had some money left, so we basically said "fuck it" and grabbed a cab.  And as always happens when we grabbed a cab, we took our lives in our hands.  Not since we whipped around the statue of Benito Juarez in downtown Tijuana on two wheels have we had such an entertaining high-speed cab ride. I dunno what the speed limit is in Highland Park, but we probably blew through it by about double.  In between clinging to the lord help me Jesus bars inside the cab and covering our eyes as we careened through red lights, Joan said, "Why don't you call Wonder Shuttle and ask for a refund."  I said, "If we survive this, I certainly will."

We reached the freeway and were forced to slow down to around seventy miles an hour.  I called Wonder Shuttle, told the annoying voice-automated system that I was requesting a refund, and got the dispatcher Joan had talked to before.  "Hey," he said, "I think I can have a van to you in about ten minutes."  "I'm sorry," I told him,  "We're already in a cab and gone."  He transferred me to a supervisor, who apparently was supposed to talk us out of it. Out of what?  Out of being in a cab and gone?  

Ponder this:  I had only very recently been asked if I was sure I was in Phoenix. Now somebody was trying to talk me out of wanting a refund.  I don't normally handle situations like this very well.  All the same, I didn't blow up and I didn't tear this guy's head off.  I just used my Best Paralegal Voice to tell him, "We were told 30 to 45 minutes.  That's unacceptable at this hour, so we got a cab.  And we'd like a refund."  My Best Paralegal Voice must still work, because he said, "Okay, that'll take three to five business days."  By the end of this sentence, we were in our driveway.  I think the hyperspace thrusters on this cab were kind of warn out.

Anyway, we made it home in one piece, I didn't yell at anybody and nothing disappeared from either of our suitcases, except Joan's grey robe, which thankfully reappeared.  So all's well.  Sort of.  Except for needing a new travel agent.  Again, I'm screening resumes.  The salary's not great, but the benefits are pretty cool.  Er, or so I hear.