Friday, October 26, 2007

Water, water everywhere and finally a drop from the sky

We've been in a major drought here for the past few months, so much so that the Governor of North Carolina has asked people to turn off the water when they brush their teeth.

Really?

Maybe I'm strange, maybe it's that I'm from California, but who the hell leaves the water on while they're brushing their teeth. Assuming you brush as long as you're supposed to brush, that's 2 minutes of water running for no reason whatsoever.

I've also had two occasions when I've watched someone in a restroom at my office turn on the water, wash their hands, then walk over, grab towels and dry their hands, then walk back and turn off the water. I've *never* seen this anywhere before... ever.

2/3rds of the world is covered in water, but most of that's not potable (as our friend with the albatross around his neck lamented in his famous tale). When you live an irrigated desert, it's easy to forget that if the aqueduct bringing you your water dried up you wouldn't have long before you'd go thirsty. But you are definitely keenly aware that water is precious.

Living here in North Carolina, it would seem that water is mostly taken for granted. Atlanta's about 2 months away from running out of water. That seems like a long time, but unless we get a lot more rain in this area, it's going to pass quickly. Maybe once someone turns on their tap and gets nothing out, they'll start thinking a bit more seriously about conservation.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Too many new shows, too little time

My wife and I have been trying to take in some of the new shows this fall season and while a few have fallen flat, there are some surprises.

First, a dud. "Life" kinda turned us off with the whole "zen" thing the lead character does, rambling to himself about being detached from the world around him. The big problem for us was that there's really no good hook that grabbed us and we saw it turning out pretty much the same way as "The Evidence" and "Blind Justice": Interesting but Canceled.

However, "Journeyman" has turned out to be a nice surprise. About 40 minutes into the first episode there's a "whoa!" moment that really piques your interest and by the end of that episode, you're thoroughly invested. The whole time travel angle brings a lot of possibilities to the table but the core of the show isn't really sci-fi, it's really about following your instinct to do what's right.

Another show that's got potential is "The Big Bang Theory" which is kinda like a version of "Friends" retitled "Geeks". It's surprisingly funny thanks to a mix of awkward and physical comedy and it helps that I'm sadly familiar with some of the more geeked out jokes that pop up.

My wife's new find is "Dirty Sexy Money" about a lawyer just starting out working for a rich New York family (complete with all the socialite stereotypes) while also trying to figure out who killed his dad, who was the previous lawyer for the family. It's like a soap opera in prime time, but with a lot of shock value moments like the live lions brought in for the family photo shoot or the polite blackmailer who sold a sex tape to a higher bidder but hopes that this won't affect any future business they might conduct. It's got Peter Krause from Six Feet Under and Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin, so it's got a stellar cast that plays well against one another.

"Pushing Daisies" is a unique show to be sure. First, is the fact that it's narrated story-book style. In fact, the whole thing plays off like a fairy-tale in a slightly twisted land of make-believe. It's got hints of Tim Burton, Roald Dahl, Jeunet & Caro and Terry Gilliam, except not as dark on all accounts. One wonders though, how long the premise can be maintained, considering that if the male lead touches the female romantic lead in any way, she'll die.

Finally, I've been happy to see that "Bionic Woman" has taken off well. Borrowing actors from another successful sci-fi series - Battlestar Galactica - has helped them, but at some point they're going to have to cut that umbilical. Katee Sackhoff, who plays (played?) Starbuck on BG does a great job as a damaged anti-hero; the first Bionic Woman who lost control and a piece of her humanity in the transformation. So far, every episode has included either another actor from BG or a reference to the show. In the pilot, a prison guard was played by a BG actor and in the third episode, the unethical doctor who created the bionics for Sackhoff's bionic woman is played by another recognizable BG actor. Amusingly, the second episode had no BG actors, but featured a clip of the show playing on a television in a house they were walking through.

Our Tivo is working overtime.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Babies R Us R Cool

This past weekend my wife and I spent a combined total of 8 hours at the 2 Babies R Us stores in Charlotte. I'd scream, but I'm too tired.

You see, we're cursed. We like something and there's a good chance it won't be available. Or, if it is available, it has been or will soon be discontinued.

My wife found a bra she really liked: discontinued.
We registered for this really cool bar ware: discontinued.
I think we've got a list somewhere.

Anyway, my parents wanted to buy the furniture for the baby's room, so we went to purchase it this weekend. But the set we wanted to get from before was out of stock and not at the warehouse either. It would be at least 2 months before they got it in. Trouble is, we're due in 6 weeks. Not going to work.

It's available in white.
But it doesn't look good in white.
86 that set, let's find another.
Cool, found a great one: crib, dresser/changing table, hutch, armoire.
Except the hutch is on backorder.
No problem, it's not essential, we'll pick it up later.
10% off for opening a new credit card and 15% off for buying 3 pieces of furniture.
Except cribs aren't included in the deal.
But the hutch would have been.
Ok, let's get the glider and matching ottoman too while we're at it.
Sorry, that glider's been discontinued from the store.
You can special order it from the manufacturer, but it will take 12-15 weeks.

Can we get the grungy floor model?
Yes, $200 off.
Ok, but we'll need to order new cushions.
That'll be $200 and 12-15 weeks.
*sigh*, ok. What about the ottoman?
That's broken, but they've got one up in Concord (35 miles away).
Do they have a newer glider?
Yes, but it's incomplete, they don't want to sell it to you in that condition.

So to get all the furniture and discounts, we buy the floor model and I fly up to Concord in my old BMW to pick up the ottoman. Turns out the glider up there is only 2 months old (compared to 4 years of people "test-gliding" the one we'd already bought).

Will they sell it to us?
Yes, but it's missing a spring.
Why's that?
We took it out for a customer that wanted 4 springs (instead of the 3 it comes with).
If I say I don't care, will you sell it to me?
Sure. $50 off.

I buy both the glider and the ottoman and manage to squeeze them into my car and drive home.

The next day, we go back to our local store and return the old glider (that we never really took possession of yet, it was going to wait in the back room until all our other stuff showed up from the warehouse. BUT, my wife now wants 2 gliders so we'll be able to have one upstairs and one downstairs. So we special order another glider. Oh, and we get them to give us one of the springs from the old glider so we can fix the new glider.

All said and done, they managed to coordinate all the coupons and incentive discounts, the staff was super helpful and patient and we got everything we needed, including a much nicer bedroom set than we'd originally planed to get.

And it only cost us twice what we'd gone in to spend.

Yeah...

Highschool Reunion (not)

So my 15-year High school reunion is coming up in a few weeks. Part of me's glad I'm living across the country with a pregnant wife and can't make it. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing my old friends... I just don't like that I have to qualify that with the word "old".

At my 10-year, there were a few people with babies and a few with much less hair. I can only imagine what everyone will look like this time.

And then there's the fact that I was skinny in high school and ballooned up in college so much so that a few people didn't recognize me at my 10-year reunion. Well, I got thin and started dating, then yo-yo'd for a while and lost a bunch for my wedding and now I'm back hovering around my usual 240. Maybe I'll be thin for my 20-year reunion.

In case you're wondering, I went to a private school, so if they had it their way, we'd be having reunions every year to keep reminding us that we're better off for their education and that we should donate to support the coming generation of students. Never mind that it costs more than some colleges to attend high school there.