Diary of a SubUrban Housewife


August 30, 2005

No Longer Hot and Bothered

Filed under: Angel Music,Family Stuff — Beth @ 11:34 pm

It seems over the last year we have had some climate control issues.

Recall the spider in the heater incident of earlier this winter?

While that sucked, truth is, I’d rather be too cold than too hot. When you’re too cold you can always throw another blankie on, but when you’re too hot…man that sucks.

And I’m here to tell you it’s been hot here in LALA land. Temps were in the triple digits every single day last week, and into the weekend. We’ve seen some relief the last couple of days if you call high 90′s relief.

Anyway… It’s been really hot here. So our central a/c has been working hard over the last week. I will point out that we are responsible about the thermostat, because while I hate to be hot, I’d hate to turn over every single penny of my hard-earned salary to the Department of Water and Power to pay for the electricity that we would consume using the a/c 24/4.

So the thermostat is on a timer and is at about 75-77 when we’re home, and at about 85 during the day — we don’t want the house to heat up too much and suffocate the pets, but no sense in running it pointlessly.

But Sunday evening, when we’re all home, getting ready for a new week, is not luxury a/c time. That’s prime usage time.

And when the fan thingie on the a/c started to make funny noises at 9:00 Sunday night I was not pleased.

(On top of this new fan noise, we’ve had an ongoing issue with the a/c where every time it turns off you can hear water rushing around. It’s gotten better since we cleared out the line, but you can still hear it. I wondered if the water rushing noise issue had something to do with the fan thingie? But…one never knows.)

So I did the only thing I know how to do when it comes to home a/c repair: I turned off the a/c and changed the filter.

I came back in and turned the a/c on. It started right up this time with no weird fan noises. Ta da. I was waiting for the angel music to start.

Well, just as the harpists were warming up, Zoe got out of bed to tell me and Chuck that the a/c was making a really bad noise. We investigated. Sure enough, it was a really bad noise. I did the only other thing I know how to do when it comes to issues with the a/c…I turned it off.

It was already almost 10 on a Sunday night. It had cooled off outside. I opened the house up, moved the fans around, and figured I’d let the a/c have a little rest. I mean after all, it had been a really hot week and it had been working like crazy. A little rest. Yeah, that would fix the problem.

So about 11:30 we toddle off to bed. I figure an hour and a half is a good amount of rest. I go to turn the a/c back on. Then I have to turn it back off immediately. The really bad noise was still there. It may have sounced even a little worse at this point. Oh the horror.

I went to bed with the windows wide open, fan going at high speed. Luckily it was cool out and I slept quite comfortably. But I knew the comfort was not going to last for long. The temps were supposed to go into the high 90′s again Monday. Ugh.

Early Monday I called my friend the heating and air conditioning dude who did such great work with the spider issue and explained my predicament. I’m here to tell you Sal rocks. Had someone been home he could have had a technician come by that afternoon. Alas both Chuck and I were at work and neither could break away to get home. But he promised to have the guy out here at 7:00 Tuesday morning.

OK, in the big scheme of things I knew I was really lucky. It’s primo a/c usage time. That means it’s primo a/c breakage time. Had Sal not been the rockinest HVAC guy on the entire planet I’m sure we’d have had to wait a week for a service call.

So Monday night was hot and sticky. Chuck and Zoe were clever enough to spend most of the evening at his mother’s air conditioned house. I was not that lucky. I seriously considered sitting in my car in the driveway with the a/c going full blast. But I decided that perhaps that wasn’t such a brilliant plan.

I faced the inferno that was my house. I came in Monday night. In a moment of delusion I tried turning the a/c on again. Yeah, really bad noise still there. So I opened up the house, adjusted the fans, and realized things could be much worse.

Anyway…the HVAC babe showed up at 7:02 this morning. He and Chuck talked. A/c dude made some adjustments. Cleaned some stuff out. And otherwise looked like he was fixing things. I told him about the rushing water noise which he thought was rather curious, but not the current issue.

I left for work and left Chuck large and in charge.

When I phoned about an hour later he informed me that a/c dude had some kind of a/c emergency and would be back with some parts later that day that would hopefully solve the problem. That’s all well and good that he had an a/c emergency somewhere, but I was having one right in my house. And Chuck was leaving in a few hours for the airport, so how was a/c babe going to get back in to finish the repairs????? Enter the leap of faith department. Chuck left the front door open so a/c babe could let himself in and fix the a/c.

It seems the flux capacitor we didn’t need this past winter we did need this summer. So we have a new one. And that rushing water noise was the problem because apparently all the water that was rushing around in there shouldn’t have been and somehow corroded the freakin flux capacitor. So he fixed the water line issue and the a/c is humming like a kitten.

Once again, the angels can sing. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

August 23, 2005

By Any Other Name

Filed under: My Old Man — Beth @ 9:27 pm

Growing up my family had a miniature Schnauzer named Pixie. She was a great dog. She suffered many indignities at the hands of three little girls, but remained calm, gentle, and sweet. She lived a very long happy life, and my mom finally had to put her to sleep at the ripe old dog age of 17. I was in college and hadn’t lived with my mom or this dog for at least five years, but I cried like a baby when my mom called with the sad news.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that at some time in my formative years, Pixie needed to get pills for something or other. Apparently the highly sophisticated wrapping of the pill in American cheese or slathering it in peanut butter did not work, and in order for my dog to take the medication one of my parents had to crush it up and sprinkle it in her dinner.

There was a specific tool used to crush the pills. It was called a Pill Crusher and it looked like this:

Whenever my dad needed this amazing veterinary tool he’d request the Pill Crusher.

Then I grew up and learned that this is not some amazing tool of veterinary science that we were fortunate to own — non-vets though we were. I learned that it’s a regular old tool available at pretty much any hardware store. But it was not until I was an adult that I learned that this tool has another name besides Pill Crusher. It’s called a vise grip (or if you’re in England a mole wrench).

But for whatever reason, I never internatlized that it’s called a vise grip. In fact, a few years ago when my dad was doing something handy and needed the vise grip he asked for the Pill Crusher. I knew exactly what he wanted and even knew where to find one.

My husband has not been very quick on the whole Pill Crusher uptake though. For years he’d be performing some amazing feat of home improvement and would ask for a vise grip. He would be met with a blank stare and I would have no clue what he wanted. He’d then stomp around the house, finally locate one, show it to me and explain — with visual aids that this is what he wanted. And without fail, I’d say, oooooooooooh, the Pill Crusher, you should have just said that.

Well, tonight Chuck was once again performing some amazing repair act and needed a tool. He wondered if I knew where the specific thing was that he wanted. He asked me for the Pill Crusher! I knew exactly what he wanted. Alas, I had no clue where it was. But I knew what he wanted.

August 19, 2005

Work–A Four Letter Word

Filed under: Work Stuff — Beth @ 7:12 pm

I’ve been very quiet on the subject of work lately. The thing is, the work thing has been incredibly complicated.

On the one hand I love my fellow co-workers and the company I work for. On the other hand I was a dedicated contractor stationed full time at THE CLIENT FROM HELL. The nicest thing I can say about the woman who was my client was that she was consistent in her inconsistency. I could say a lot of really hateful things about her, but what would be the point of that?

There were nights I’d come home in tears and have to literally wash the stink of her off me.

Finally on Tuesday I’d had all I could take and called into the office to talk to someone. Anyone. I called the senior account manager, in tears. She said she’s phone right back with our HR director. Instead my boss, the director of project management phoned.

Between tears and moments of lucidity I told him what had been going on–something Chuck had been urging me to do for weeks. He was very kind and reassuring and told me he’d be in touch.

Wednesday passed without a word. I was getting nervous. Being stationed out in the hinterlands I’d hoped that I hadn’t been forgotten.

On Thursday he called and said they’re taking me off the account–effective immediately.

The thing is, I was hired to work specifically on this account. I had a lot of the skills the client claimed she wanted (none of which were used), but my skills in other areas were light (to say the least) and those seem to be what she needed. Skills I do not (and never claimed to) possess, and the personality of a spineless ragdoll who was willing to be a victim. To sum it up, not me.

But as I said they were taking me off the account. So I was feeling a bit of a failure (to say the least), and more than a little nervous. Would I still have a job?

My boss assured me (because I asked point blank) that I did, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would become of me. I was to report to the home office today to develop a plan.

I spent most of last night in various states of angst and depression. Should I have just sucked it up and continued with the abuse? Not really my style. I was facing total job insecurity and unemployment. It was not a pretty picture.

So I put my brave face on this morning and drove down to the office. I figured whatever happened would be just fine. If I was going to be fired I’d take a couple of weeks off and then start sending out resumes. I could always get a temp job as a secretary.

Well…I had a long talk with my boss this morning. They’re going to put me into heavy duty training and a mentoring program. All the skills they knew I didn’t have when they hired me will be mine in a matter of months. I’m going to work with one-on-one with one of the senior project managers. I’ll handle multiple smaller installs and projects to start with and then move on to bigger and better.

So I’m feeling pretty good about things once again.

August 14, 2005

Down The Drain

Filed under: Around the Neighborhood — Beth @ 3:47 pm

It was with great sadness that I learned that my beloved Olympic Spa is featured in Los Angeles Magazine‘s August “Best Of” issue.

Looking for the newest, best, and/or otherwise grooviest is something Angelinos take very seriously. And now that the Olympic Spa has been featured as one of “the best” it will be overtaken by the nipped and tucked crowd.

I used to revel in the fact that I was one of the very few non-Korean patrons. While that will no longer be the case, I remain hopeful that utter lack of glamour will keep all but the most intrepid from returning for a second visit.

August 9, 2005

Silence is Not Golden

Filed under: Angel Music — Beth @ 12:43 am

The battery died in my car last Wednesday night. Of course I discovered this Thursday morning trying to jet out of the house to make it to a meeting a good hour’s drive away and still had to get Zoe to camp. When I turned the key in the ignition and nothing happened, instead of my usual course of action which would have been to freak out, I just figured we’d go back in, grab Chuck’s keys and take his truck.

Of course, this was the one day he decides to take the truck and not the motorcycle.

But I still did not have an attack.

Instead I called my mechanic, Mats. I love Mats. He knows that I am a delicate flower when it comes to matters of my automobile and treats me accordingly. Mats said he’d come and get my car. Then I called Enterprise Rent A Car. I love Enterprise because they send fresh-faced college kids to pick you up to get your rental mobile. I explained to the rental driver dude that I was running late for a meeting and when we got to the rental office he took me to the front of the line and expedited my rental. And somewhere in the middle of all that I called Chuck. I love Chuck. He was shocked that in the midst of all this I was not freaking out.

So Mats replaced my battery and did a bunch of other stuff to my car and I picked it up Friday night. So juiced up and good to go I turn the radio on. But oops…the battery got pulled. That means I need to re-enter the code for my anti-theft radio.

I tried the code I thought it wss. Then I tried it again. And a third time. And I’m here to tell you, three is not the charm. In fact three is the number of chances you get before the radio locks you out.

Friday night I searched high and low for the stupid code for the stupid radio, but no luck. So bright and early Saturday morning I drove in silence to the nearest Volvo dealer to get the code for my radio. I got some jerkoff Saturday replacement dude who was not very happy to be working that day. He asked for the VIN for my car and I explain to him that the VIN won’t work because I got a replacement radio when the car was under warranty and they have to look up the code in some secret magical Volvo book of radio codes. To look up the code they need the serial number information from the radio itself.

The jerk tells me they’re going to have to charge me $98 for one hour of labor to get a service tech to pull the radio and get the information off the back of it. I all but laughed in this guy’s face. To pull the radio all you have to do is push two little buttons on the side of the radio and they turn into little handles that you use to pull it out of the dash. (You see, I went through this once before when I replaced the battery a number of years ago.) I told the guy there was no way in hell I was going to pay $98 for something I could do myself. And Mr. Asshat Service Manager said fine, go do it yourself. So in the parking lot of the Volvo dealership, parked illegally, I pulled the radio. I proceeded to write down all the information that they would need to get the code and brought it to the parts desk myself.

At the parts desk I actually encountered the one semi-helpful person at the entire dealership to proceeded to look my code up in the computer. But she was having issues with her password. Arg. She took all my radio information and phone number and promised to call me Monday when her manager was there and could help her.

So I drove home, in silence.

Then Sunday rolls around. I have to drive out to an installation we’re doing, so tune free I drive an hour north to Newbury Park. To pass the time, because apparently I cannot sit in total silence in my car, I spent the time on the phone. Fine. I have to drive back home after the installation…still no tunes…I spent the drive home on the phone.

Then it’s Monday morning. I’m going to have to sit in traffic while I once again drive to my client in the hinterlands.

I still have no code for the radio and I’m not even sure I’m going to be able to get it to work without maybe pulling the battery because, recall, I’ve tried three different codes and none of them worked and now the radio not only doesn’t work, but it’s locked me out.

I call the jerky dealership again with the vague hope that maybe in the bright light of Monday morning some miracle will have happened and they’ll magically be able to find the code for me that they couldn’t find 48 hours ago. I speak to a different service manager than the jerk from Saturday and he takes all my radio information down and puts me on hold. Now normally I do not love being put on hold, but at least there was music. The guy couldn’t find my code in the book but suggested I bring the car in because they might have to call Volvo for the code.

I all but begged him to put me back on hold for the duration of my drive so I’d have music, but I decided that was too pathetic even for me and talked on the phone the entire way into the office.

Then at around 10:30 I had a brainstorm. My client is blocks from a huge auto mall and I figured there had to be a Volvo dealership, so on my lunch I went and had a look around. And poof, right there, a Volvo dealership. I went into the service department armed with all my radio information and explained to the guy my dilemma. I then gave him the piece of paper that had all the information about my radio on it. And I explained how the previous dealership wanted to charge me $98 to pull the radio. I knew I liked this service guy when he said that was the most absurd thing he’d ever heard.

He went out to my car with me just to make sure that we had all the information he needed and five minutes later he came back with the magical code (which I wrote on the side of the radio in purple Sharpee so if this ever happens again there will be no question what the freakin code is).

But…the radio was still in lockdown mode. I asked if pulling the battery would unlock it and he said no. The only way to reset the radio is to leave the car on for two hours. You turn the key to the first click on the ignition and let it sit. So when I got back to the office, I put my faith in the higher powers of people who watch over red Volvos and left my car in the parking lot with the key in the ignition turned to the first click. And because it is my only key and the keyless entry clicker will not lock the car with the key in the ignition I had to leave the car unlocked.

So yeah, my car sat in the parking lot for two hours unlocked with the key in it, all so that I could make the drive home tonight once again with tunes.

Two hours to the minute later I return to the car and realize that I had not in fact turned the key to the first click and the freakin radio was not cleared.

Leap of faith once, may as well go for number two, so I once again left my car, unlocked, with the key in the ignition, in the parking lot of my office, this time absolutely positive that I’ve turned the key to the first click place.

And one hour and fourty five minutes later I could delay no longer and had to go to an appointment. So I had to turn the car on. It was a short drive away and I was hoping that as long as I had not turned the car totally off, I would still be able to get the radio going. But no.

So I drive home with no radio. I was sick to death of talking on the phone so I drove home in total and depessed silence.

I figured I was going to give this whole clear the code on the radio one last shot, this time in the safety of my driveway, where I’d be able to leave the car for two hours and five minutes (just to make extra special sure) and this time decided to leave the power on the radio on. The guy at the dealership said to leave everything off but I didn’t think that was working.

At 9:30 tonight, with great trepediation I approached the car. I was thinking lovey musical thoughts as I opened the driver door to peer in to the radio.

My heart leapt with joy as I looked in and the radio no longer said OFF. Finally, it said CODE.

Slowly and carefully I entered the code. It appeared on the screen for a moment and then the radio tuned in.

Angel music came out of the speakers. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

August 6, 2005

Blog This

Filed under: Webishness — Beth @ 12:09 am

To say that I attended BlogHer last weekend wouldn’t be exactly accurate.

A more accurate description would be that I crashed the BlogHer closing cocktail party; scored some swag, free drinks and hors d’ouevres; and chatted with some interesting (and some not so interesting) women; but mostly I just needed to get away and wanted to see GraceDavis and needed only the flimsiest of excuses to avail myself of her more than gracious hospitality and attend her post-BlogHer brunch.

Brunch was lovely and attended by lots of interesting women…but…

Isn’t there always a but?

OK, I know that the point of the whole brunch was a post-mortem on BlogHer. And yes I know that GraceDavis’ home is a palace to wifi connectivity. And yes, I know brunch attendees were encouraged to bring their laptops and blog to their hearts content. But….

I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of people who have an on-line presence in the nearly 10 years I’ve been writing online. The thing about getting together and meeting people who have an online presence is to take the opportunity to talk to them. Get to know them as an actual person. Not to sit and watch each other type things on our laptops (btw: I left mine home).

There were several times over the course of the day when a bunch of women would be sitting there, next to each other, busily typing away and uploading. The they would surf over to read what had just been uploaded by the person sitting next to them, and perhaps leave a comment. To me, it would have been far more interesting to actually chat with the person perched next to me.

Meeting a fellow blogger gives you the rare opportunity to see if the voice you hear in your head when you read someones words on the screen match them. It’s a chance to actually get to know someone as an actual real live flesh and blood human being. To have discourse. Interchange. Dialogue.

In the way it was when I met Grace and her peeps for the very first time. And when we met for the first time there was some discussion of blogs, but it was mostly just talking. About stuff.

I don’t mean this to sound bitter and like I didn’t enjoy myself, because I did — enormously. But over the last week I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my visit and why I maybe sometimes felt like the odd woman out.

I missed the bonding, Kumbaya experience of BlogHer so that may have something to do with it. But I think the bigger reason I feel like something was sort of off is that I’ve realized a couple of things:

1. I don’t actually blog.
2. I’ve been at this for a long time so it’s not all new, shiny, novel, and exciting.

Let me clarify those points.

As for the first, to me a blog is a compendium of links to interesting sites and information. While I sometimes offer links, and maybe a short throw away entry here or there, mostly what I do is chronicle my life. In essay form. This is what the first online journals were. That’s what this is.

I used to have to use special software (Dreamweaver if you care) that resided on my hard drive. Entries had to be uploaded. It wasn’t something you could do from any pc anywhere in the world where you had an internet connection. And now that blogging is all the rage I avail myself of all the modern conveniences this rage has afforded — so maybe this is just an online journal in blog format?

But the biggest difference is perhaps the fact that with online journals there were no comments. Sure, you could have an e-mail link on your journal (which I did). And people would often write to me to comment on something that I had written. But there was no interchange between readers as there are with blogs.

You wrote what you wanted. You uploaded it. It was out there. End of story.

When I spoke about this with some of the women at Grace’s brunch and explained the no comments aspect, on more than a few occasions I was met with a completely blank stare, or was questioned as to why I would want to put something out there if I couldn’t get comments on it. It was almost like comments are some kind of validation that what you’re writing is worthwhile.

Then there’s the whole I’ve been at this for a long time thing. Yeah, for like seven years or something. And while seven years is not a long time in the big scheme of things, to have been doing this online for seven years, pretty much non-stop, makes me an old timer. So the newness and excitingness of seeing my words, thoughts, dreams, and foibles on the www is not all that thrilling anymore.

I don’t feel the need to put something out there several times a day, once a day, or sometimes even once a week. I write when I want about what I want.

I guess it boils down to the fact that I choose to actually live my life. Not just blog it.

August 5, 2005

It’s In the Mail

Filed under: That's Incredible! — Beth @ 7:12 pm

I received the following e-mail today:

“I’m curious. I’ve seen your navel-ring…but could I see it in a full shot…ie. with you in an outfit? I’m a housewife too and I am considering a piercing…..Elpie”

Yeah, sure. I’ll get right on it.

August 2, 2005

May the Force Be With You

Filed under: Zoe — Beth @ 10:53 pm

I am in the process of shopping for a new car. As a result, the entire family is keenly aware of everything on the road these days. The top choices right now are the Infiniti G35 (sedan, not coupe), and the Lexus GS300. So it is not unusual for Zoe to see a car and ask what kind of car it is. If she thinks it’s cute she thinks we should get it. Not cute results in an instant no vote from the princess.

So this morning on the way to camp Zoe sees a car up the street and asks what it is. I tell her it’s a Jetta. “A Jedi?” she asked. No, I told her a Jetta. She told me that’s much better, because if you have a car and it’s a Jedi then you’d have to worry about having to defend everyone from Darth Vadar, and that it would be difficult to drive and use a light saber at the same time.