What is this ‘window’?

I used to spend my lunch hour going for walks. I no longer am afforded that luxury because, unless I want to stay 10 hours a day (and I don’t!), I gotta use all my break time for pumping. But today I had to run across campus for something, and it is a spectacularly beautiful day. It may be February elsewhere, but right now it’s a blissful 75 degrees and sunny here. That’s not what I’m here to talk about, though. I would’ve had to forge across campus even if it were cloudy and a brisk 65. In my errand, I walked past the office building across the street and what I saw stopped me dead in my tracks.

They have windows.

That OPEN.

It is absolutely criminal that any of us should have to be inside on a day like today anyway. Especially given that our faces will be melting under the death star very soon. But an office with windows that OPEN?! I have never even conceived of such an enviable fringe benefit before that moment. I mean, anyone can have a window in their office cube. I have even had a window in my office before. Sure, it looked out on a dingy poorly-lit hallway, but still. But a window that functions?

Mind. blown. Then I thought, um, hello? This is not novel. The only thing that made this moment noteworthy whatsoever is that I’m unfortunate enough to work in an environment controlled entirely by someone else. Redoubling my efforts to work on my own business plan.

Why Not Just Outlaw ‘Fun’?

I just read this NPR article about how the LA Board of Supervisors has outlawed fun footballs and frisbees during the summer. As their excerpt notes, “The basic idea is to protect the general public from flying objects during the peak summer months, when beaches are at their most crowded.” I guess, but then why are beach balls and volleyballs still okay? Cuz no one’s ever been bonked in the head by one of those…

What’s next, LA Board of Supervisors? Outlawing dogs happily racing along on the beach? Eh, those probably are already forbidden. Cute babies racing away from the little waves? Sandcastles?


An Unofficial Mommies Group

It turns out that 4:00 on a Wednesday afternoon is prime-baby time at Safeway. I think they might not even let you in the door if you’re not toting a wee little one. Too bad I don’t know any of these ladies. We could be friends. But since my only opener is “OMG! How old’s your baaaaaby? Can I see how cute?!” I think I’d be considered a weird creeper and not friend potential. Well, there’s that, and the fact that the other moms seem to be able to get their act together enough to be properly attired out in public. Me, on the other hand? I’m wearing sweatpants, I’ve got toothpaste on my sleeve and spit-up on my shoulder, I’m sporting mis-matched Christmas-themed socks, and my only makeup is that I have 2-day-old mascara flakes still lingering on my eyelashes.

I don’t belong to any mommies groups, and honestly, I’m not sure what the hell they’re about or if I’d have anything at all in common with them. But as a working mom, I don’t really have much of a choice. All the baby-mommy events seem to be during the week. Story time at the bookstore? Mid-morning on Tuesdays. Story time at the library? Mid-morning on Thursdays. Breastfeeding support group? It’s on Wednesday mornings. Kindermusik? That’d be during the workday, too. Baby swim classes? I can barely get to work and home on time, nevermind scoop her up and get her to a swim class that starts at 5:00 and is half an hour away. I keep thinking about how much of my time with Baby is spent taking her for walks to the park or to go see the duckies in the canal, and how that activity probably won’t even be possible once it gets hot (which is Any. Minute. Now.)

I’ve got to figure out how to make some mommy friends so, if nothing else, she (and I) can have some friends over for indoor playdates once it gets hot. But they better be mommy friends who don’t make me feel inadequate since I seem to be the only one here not sporting skinny jeans, a fluttery but immaculate tank, and hair that doesn’t look like it’s been poorly corralled with vaseline after six hours in a wind tunnel.

The Problem(s) with Craigslist

I have mixed increasingly negative feelings about craigslist. Like all websites, its utility has faced a diminishing law of returns – its usefulness declines the more people use exploit it.

I used to think that what would help was if there were some kind of buyer/seller pricing app or plug-in, a tool that would mine craigslist listings for any item and recommend a fair selling price based on the pricing data and how long the listing lived on the site. A Kelley Blue Book-style tool for craigslist, if you will, like the ebay seller tools. But then I realized that all that would tell you is what the seller asked for. Not what the item actually sold for, if it even ever sold.

Craigslist suffers from the same problems as Yelp: the lack of any oversight means that there are no standards to ensure any consistency or quality. On Yelp, there’s no rhyme or reason to what 1, 3, or 5 stars means. What constitutes 4 star service to me might be 3 star to someone else. And what I think is 1 star food might get rated as 5 star by some reviewer suffering from ageusia.

The other problem they both have in common? There’s no floodgate to control the number of identities or postings one can make. Are these sites assuming we’re dumb enough to believe the number of users is representative of the real number of unique users? Twitter, anyone? Just because there’s “Bill,” “Wee Billy Winky” and “Will-e,” all of whom go gaga for the food doesn’t mean that some fanboy hasn’t logged in under 3 different identities. And that’s not even counting all the self-promo ‘reviews’ planted by corporate hacks, owners, bots, and paid reviewers. Likewise, some craigslist yahoo might think their ugly-ass orange chair is worth $500 when I wouldn’t pay $5 for it. Or, just because someone lists their chair for $500 and it sells doesn’t mean it sold for $500. Hopefully the buyer negotiated to trade it for their mean cat.

And all of that is setting aside all the many, many other problems. You have the flaky buyers/sellers. You know, the sellers who, when you text to let them know you’re at the apartment complex gate, text you back to say “oh, sorry. Just sold it to someone else” even though they knew you were on your way 10 minutes ago. And the buyers? Don’t get me started. Texting at all hours, berating you in ALL CAPS EMAILS for not having responded to their other grammar-poor email from 10 minutes ago, never showing up for the agreed-upon exchange. You have the sellers that abuse the listings, listing their item multiple times every single day, making sifting through the listings about as effective as flushing the display toilets at Home Depot. And let’s not forget the whole recent spate of craigslist-based crimes that make the buyer/seller exchange just downright scary. Even if you could eliminate the criminal element, the site is just useless these days.

Related: where am I going to offload my old loveseat now?

The Great House Hunters Mystery

A couple years ago when I was visiting my folks, my mom got me hooked on House Hunters. And now every time I see it, I can channel their reactions. Their biggest mystery for most any episode is “How can someone who’s only in their 20s afford a $400,000 house?!?!” See also: “How can someone who works as a [occupation] afford a [dollar amount] place?” It’s true – it is odd that for so many episodes the math just doesn’t really make sense to me. And that’s not even counting the episodes where it’s some spoiled 20-something whose mommy and daddy are footing the bill their place. Other frequently cited mysteries include: What is the big deal about a double sink? Why do all of you need your own sink? (Seriously. If someone can explain this to me, I’d be grateful). And, Why are you hinging the purchase of a HOUSE on whether or not it includes a $750 dishwasher?!

But for me, the greatest mystery of all is the home visit at the end of the episode after they’ve settled in to their new place. How the hell do these people afford their new furniture? I just saw an episode where the couple needed a bigger house, so they selected a large 4 bedroom place that was at the upper end of their price point, and yet in the after segment, they’ve got it furnished with a brand new high quality giant leather sectional, accompanied by oversized plush recliners, and a super modern coffee table. WHAT. THE. HELL. If you can barely afford your house, how did you come up with an extra money to furnish it?! You might be thinking that I’m just jealous. And you’d be right.

Walk. Repeat.

I am exhausted. Despite baby sleeping longer and longer at night, I am about to face plant into my keyboard. Baby is super alert during the day, which is not necessarily new or tiring in and of itself, but she also requires something NEW. Every. 10. Minutes. That toy? I’ve played with it before. That cute baby in the mirror? What, like I’ve never seen my reflection before? That book? I’ve CHEWED IT ALREADY. WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?

One of the few activities that distracts her from the same old, same old is going for a walk. Maybe it’s because a walk is different every time. Even though I have established markers to hit – the school, the park, the other park, the fancy ‘hood with the horses & ostriches – I just take whatever street suits me, going whichever way something catches my eye as long as it advances us towards one of the markers.  Maybe she, too, notes something different every time we go around the neighborhood even if the highlights are usually the same. The good news is it buys me some time – whatever time is spent walking is time I don’t have to be coming up with some new game, activity, or destination. So we go for walk after walk on the weekends, especially. Certainly it could be worse. It’s beautiful outside. Not too hot, not too cold, and it’s nice to get some fresh air & exercise. Besides, we gotta compress our enjoyment of the outdoors while we can – before long I’ll be bitching about how it’s too goddamned hot to put on pants.

The bad news is it requires me to be both awake and moving. Don’t think I haven’t questioned at least one of those requirements – somehow strapping her stroller to the treadmill and turning it on while I go  take a nap, but I think that kind of “walk” wouldn’t have nearly the same effect on her. So til I figure out a way around the whole awake AND moving at the same time thing means that I am very, very tired.

In Which My Netflix Recommendations Get Screwy

My dad just got a Kindle Fire. And since he doesn’t have a Netflix account, I logged in as me on his Fire so he could stream whatever he wants to watch. And he’s been enjoying it a lot, watching all kinds of things.

The problem is that now Netflix thinks I want to watch all kinds of things that I really, really don’t. To be fair, that was already an issue because My Better Half™ watches all kinds of archaeology & nature documentaries that I couldn’t care less about. But now my Netflix recommendations are SO off it’s laughable. I might enjoy Jane Eyre? Hells to the no. Hello Dolly? Goodbye Netflix!

I like to imagine that someone was standing by some giant dot matrix printer spitting out something like a seismograph chart that plots out everyone’s likes and dislikes and when mine came along, they noticed something so off that they hit an alarm and are now have hired herds of people to work around the clock to recalibrate their suggestions algorithms.

Bitter, Party of Two

Daycare is right next door to Trader Joe’s. That produced the following conversation this morning.

My Better Half™: I HATE the people who come to Trader Joe’s first thing in the morning.

Me: Why?

My Better Half™:  Because. They are just there to shop for lavish things. They clearly have nowhere they have to be right now. All they have ahead of them today is a leisurely schedule of making extravagant meals out of their delicacies. Do YOU spend your mornings menu planning for the day and then leisurely shopping at Trader Joe’s?

Me: Uh, no?

My Better Half™: Right! Because you have to be somewhere. At a JOB. My point is this: they don’t have to go to a JOB. I FUCKING HATE THEM.