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The neighborhood gyro shop needs an efficiency consultant

Lunch during the week is usually more of an errand than an experience, a quick round trip to fetch something edible and cheap that will keep me alive long enough to do it again tomorrow, and thus is an obvious target for efficiency optimization, both from a logistics standpoint as well as in its value-for-dollar. The amiable, well-intentioned proprietors of the gyro shop 2 blocks to the west, however, have confused the process.gyro-photo

I ordered a gyro sandwich to go, and then proceeded to loiter around the tiny dining area while they put it together. Maybe to offer customers a little more for their $6.99, or maybe because it’s cloudy and unpleasant outside, they offered me (and any other waiting customers) a free bowl of soup, passed across the counter in a styro bowl. Spoons were on the opposite wall near the condiments, as indicated by a gesture. The soup was simple but good, some kind of lentil-curry-porridge that was satisfyingly flavorful and warm – too warm, really, as it was too hot to shovel down and needed a lot of blowing, slurping and mostly waiting for it to cool while juggling the flimsy bowl to avoid burning my hands.

Now a gyro takes about 5 minutes to make if you are an average human being. If you are an authentic Greek gyro-making ninja then it takes you about one minute and 15 seconds, which is about how long it takes one of us average human beings to eat two spoonfuls of blazingly-hot soup. And therein lies the dilemma: my gyro was ready, wrapped and bagged for travel back to my desk to eat while I’m working like a good office drone, its tasty aroma wafting from the bag as the chilled vegetables were already beginning to cool the warm slab of meat and the steamy falafel dough. I had paid $8 (after dropping a GW in the tip jar) for this sandwich and its delicate balance of hot and cold foods that is enjoyed properly only when fresh, and yet here I was wasting that culinary opportunity to finish a free bowl of soup. Not only that, but I was trying to rush the soup’s natural schedule by eating it before it had reached its own peak-enjoyment temperature, repeatedly burning the mouth for whom this experience was mostly intended.

I ended up clamping an upside-down bowl onto my soup and shuffling back to assigned seating area number 410 to finish my meal; rescued yet again by my MacGuyver-like ingenuity. But I ask you, gentlemen of the gyro shop – did you think this through sufficiently? While I appreciate the proactive marketing of free soup, the thoughtfulness it shows towards your customers to offer them something satisfying while they wait, and the added value of complementary side dishes on an already value-priced meal, the logistics just don’t work out. Let me offer you some suggestions, based on similar but more successful models:

  • The Chinese and Teriyaki places offer free soup (in real bowls) to customers dining in only. Take-out orders go without.
  • Starbucks offers tastes and samples to customers waiting in line but they are shot-glass-sized, ready to consume immediately, and are finished before the customer’s order is ready.
  • A good restaurant might offer a free appetizer or similar complement when a meal is slow to be prepared. But they usually do not employ Greek gyro ninjas for whom “slow preparation” means “still shorter than a superbowl halftime commercial.”

All in all, gyro shop, I respect your ambition but think you could use some outside consulting. I am willing to accept payment in baklava.

Spending My Time

It was 2pm when I finally decided to leave my hotel room and venture outside. The morning had slipped away from me, like the way a credit card balance adds up to something frightening even though none of the individual charges were particularly significant. My over-zealous internal alarm clock has fully adjusted to Sydney time, waking me up at 7 every morning now matter how tightly I roll down the window shade, so that even today – Monday, a federal holiday in Australia – I couldn’t seem to soak up any more than the minimum number of horizontal hours.

My intention Saturday had been to catch a bus to Bondi Beach, one of those typically-Aussie places on my must-see list, and something I figured would make a cheap date for myself and my Canon traveling companion. Saturday was dreadfully rainy, though, and despite reminding myself multiple times of my adopted Seattle mantra: “if you didn’t do something just because it was raining, you’d never do anything”, I just couldn’t talk myself into a dreary day at the beach. All the visions of sunbaked blondes lounging gracefully on the white sands of Bondi were washed out of my mind by the torrential downpour, and instead I went on an urban walkabout, enjoying my photog trip through the Chinese Gardens and finding some cool souvenir presents for people I wished I could call in the middle of their night. The shopping I did for myself I regret now; a misguided attempt to give purpose to a day without any. Spending money I didn’t have on things I didn’t need was only a momentary distraction, and left me feeling no more fulfilled and instead frustrated with my lack of self-restraint.

Sunday I planned to visit the zoo and Sarah from the local office had offered to join me, but again the weather interfered. It really wasn’t about the animals or taking photos; more than anything I was looking forward to spending a day with someone else besides the voices in my head. Sarah indulged me with breakfast in the city and a brief neighborhood walking tour, but when she departed I found myself again walking briskly through the city wearing my best purposeful look, attempting to mask my complete lack of purpose and sense of total uselessness. I explored some great things that afternoon but in the back of my mind was the nagging feeling that it was all only a means to an end, the purposeful spending of time like one spends the last few dollars of their local currency on the last day in a country. “I have all this time that I need to spend. I can spend a bit here, and a bit more there. That still leaves quite a bit. What else can I spend some on?” In my normal life my time is so precious and it’s agonizing to so intentionally disregard its value.

Maybe it was the exercise of walking the length of the city – I chose not to take the ferry as walking would spend more time – or maybe stopping in a Starbucks at St James Park for something that felt a little like home, but the bloody stub of my adventuresome self-reliance had regrown just slightly as I neared my hotel. I wandered awkwardly into a waterfront restaurant and requested something that, while increasingly familiar, I can never utter without a

trepidatious quiver in my voice: “table for one.” Either oblivious to my malaise or else preying on it like a wild dingo nips at the heels of the slowest wallaby, the icy hostess guided me to a table in the near-empty dining room less than arms-length from a chatty, affectionate couple, and unceremoniously removed the second place setting. Before departing she abruptly notified me that she’d “need this table back in an hour and 45 minutes.” I wasn’t sure if that was meant to sideline the several-hour binge drinking session of a wayward traveler at a lonely table in a stuffy steakhouse, or merely a statement to the poor service she expected her colleagues to be providing me that evening. Feeling unwelcome before I’d even unzipped my jacket, I ate my kangaroo steak and departed as soon as the check arrived. I was home in my hotel room in time to watch both the James Bond movies playing on Fox Classics in their entirety.

Although Monday is a federal holiday here and all my Aussie mates enjoyed the day off, I felt compelled to start the morning working through email, adding tasks to my todo list, and crossing off any small items I could complete without actually needing to talk to anyone in person. In retrospect I think my sub-par emotional mood was more to blame than the work itself, but I came away from several hours of productivity feeling drained and depressed. Like so many things that I ambitiously start with only the best of intentions, actually doing the job that I’ve been working so hard to build for myself is much less fulfilling than was the road I traveled to get here, and the “great opportunity” had begun this morning to feel more like a cage I’d built around myself, confining my influence, authority and creativity into a 9×9 square pen. I’m trying to chalk it up now to needing more sleep, which is most certainly true, but I can’t shake the self-doubt; maybe I don’t really know what I want as much as my standard job-interview-answer belies.

In the midst of my morning of melacholy, I also managed to:

  • break my computer (my personal one, not my work one). My Powerbook G4 has been working so well, and despite being woefully slow has aged gracefully since 2002, with all parts still functioning, the screen as sharp as ever, and even a respectable on-battery awake time. Whenever I’ve been tempted by the new, shiny MacBooks that I most certainly cannot afford, it’s felt good to say “I don’t need to upgrade; mine works very well for what I need.” When I discovered the busted hinge today and silently accepted that each time I now open or close the lid I’m bending the frame, cracking the display and sending my dependable laptop of 6 years another step closer to the grave, it made me want to cry.
  • make the mistake of calling American Express. I thought it would make me feel a little less concerned about my empty checking account to start tracking my out-of-pocket expenses so far on this trip and estimate what I’d be refunded. In comparing receipts and Amex transactions I discovered someone’s been buying 65-dollar tanks of gas with my corporate Amex card in Flushing, NY every day since 1-Oct. Stupidly, I called Amex to report this. For those of you who are ever in this situation, let me give you some advice: wait until you get home from the foreign country before you give Amex a reason to cancel your credit card. It would not have been any more difficult to dispute these charges after I was safely home in Seattle, but instead I made that call and then spent a couple hours arguing with Amex reps, pitting my best patient-yet-frustrated voice against their circular logic and horribly-broken english. Finally my 4th rep along the chain, Lisa in Georgia, made arrangements to issue me a temporary card at the Amex travel office in Sydney, tomorrow. While I can certainly live off my (personal) cash for one day, I will feel much better once I have that replacement card. The emotional difference between “alone in a foreign country” and “alone in a foreign country without any money” is tremendous.

So with those things plaguing my mind, I ventured from the hotel this afternoon – after eating lunch in the hotel bar, the only restaurant in town that wouldn’t ask me for any money – and made my way to St James park with a book. The sun had crept back into the day and was filtering through the trees occasionally, and other than exotic-sounding birds and the unfamiliar voices of occasional passersby, the park felt comforting and somehow normal. I spent the last coins in my pocket at that same Starbucks, hoping it would be a placebo for homesickness again, and it worked a little. I started the Wil Wheaton book John bought me for Christmas, hoping to dive into Wil’s life for a bit instead of wallowing in my own, but I couldn’t help picking my head up partway through every story where Wil realizes how important his family is to him (more important than his career), or what really makes him happy (not the jobs he thought he wanted) and letting the thoughts and emotions around my own struggles with these same things wash over me. Am I working hard for the wrong things, while neglecting that which will really matter to me when it’s gone? Am I making excuses for myself, for my obliviousness to others’ interest in or love for me, for my emotional unavailability, for judging others unfairly? Am I going to keep walking away from great women because I’m afraid I don’t know how not to be single anymore? Do I really believe that I can find my intellectual fulfillment entirely in my hobbies if my job ceases to interest and challenge me?

I gave up on trying to read right about the time the weather started to turn. As the clouds grew darker I marched bravely home – to a home with a splendid view of the city skyline and nothing familiar or comforting that doesn’t come through the internet connection – my eyes squinted tightly against the dirt being flung into them by the violent breeze. Resolutely I trod under the viciously-flapping flags decorating the waterfront, weaving around slow moving tourists clutching their hats and shopping bags against the gale and brushing stray raindrops from my face. Once again, my walk held all the purpose of a king’s messenger on a mission blessed by God, yet on the inside I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to reach my destination, defaulting to it only for lack of a better distraction. From the entrance to my hotel I turned back to snap this photo of the giant harbour flag being tortured by the wind, and then escaped the grasp of the impending storm through the revolving door.

For all my effort to dodge it no storm has really arrived, and my triumphant rush to shelter was just another hollow attempt to create purpose where none existed. I’m not sure I can explain how I feel any more concisely than with that as my metaphor. Yes, I’m a little homesick. Yes, I’m pretty burnt out on being in a different city every other week. Yes, I’m as confused as anyone else at work about what my job is supposed to be now and why I’m supposed to care about doing it. But more than that, I’m worried I’m spending a lot of time without proper consideration for it’s value and in more areas of my life than I’ve previously allowed.

This is how my week is going.

I’m not sure if the universe operates on some sort of yin/yang, good-luck/bad-luck cycle, or if I’m just only happy when it rains, but it seems like when I’m stretched to the limit that’s exactly when every little thing starts to go wrong and every molehill becomes a mountain. These are the kinds of things I’ve been dealing with this week, in the midst of trying to pack, buying a condo, getting ready to move, etc. I apologize for the lazy bullet-point format but that’s what my life has been reduced to in December – a series of lists. It’s really all I’m capable of at this point.

  • I can barely walk, apparently. I’ve been bumping things on other things, tripping over nothing, and otherwise banging myself up just trying to handle seemingly-harmless tasks. I hardly ever injure myself, but in the last two weeks I’ve hit my head on the closet door, closed my hand in a drawer, gouged my back on a shelf, knocked my forehead on the roof of my truck… I’ve become the world’s biggest klutz.
  • I lost my truck/house keys Monday morning. Or very nearly lost them. Last time I’d had them was Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning when it was time to leave for work, they were nowhere. I only have one key to the truck, so unless I found them it would become a giant steel paperweight. Picture my apartment, stacked chest-high with boxes, packing material strewn across the floor, wall-to-wall chaos with nothing in its usual place – this is the environment where I had presumably set my keys down. I tore through the place, opening sealed boxes, unpacking luggage… and nothing. Finally I retraced my last known steps with the keys – to the mailbox and back. I found them lying in my neighbor’s driveway, mere inches away from the gutter where the torrents of Seattle’s rainiest day in the past 50 years threatened them with a watery demise. My neighbor must have run over them as the keys are chewed up, but at least I found them. I was 98% percent to nervous breakdown.
  • I can’t seem to be on time for anything. I went to a meeting an hour early today. In my head, I was sure it was at 8am, and I half-jogged the 5 blocks to the other office building where it was held only to find I was alone in the conference room. Check my phone again: meeting is at 9. This meeting is at 9 every Wednesday and has been since April, but I was sure it was at eight. I was an hour early to my condo closing paperwork appointment yesterday because I seem to have lost all ability to estimate travel time; I spent the extra hour sitting across the street at Starbucks breathing into a paper bag.
  • As it turns out, my truck keys aren’t just chewed up a little. The keyfob is apparently slightly broken. I figured this out Tuesday afternoon when I walked the 5 blocks in the pouring rain to my parking lot and discovered I couldn’t unlock the doors. Some shouting and physical abuse temporarily revived it, but I’ve since been operating in constant fear that each press of a lock or unlock button may be the last one, leaving the truck permanently either dangerously unlocked or locked and immobilized. It’s something I would toss and turn about on a regular night, but this week it’s chewing me up. I really need my truck for the next couple weeks.
  • People keep wanting and/or needing things from me and I keep having to tell them no. It’s not like me to ever decline an invitation or defer to help someone out, and it makes me feel like a selfish, antisocial misanthrope. As I told Hannah yesterday during my massage, I’ve got a list (several lists, really) of things that have to be done this week, this weekend, next week, next weekend, before the 15th, before I leave town for Christmas… and if it’s not on my list, I can’t think about it. Moreover, if it doesn’t urgently need to be done before the 15th, it’s not making the list. The list is already so frighteningly long, complex and full of interdependencies that I can’t conceive it will ever be completed, so I’m having trouble looking beyond the 15th, either. Basically, I’m absorbed with this project. My apologies to anyone that’s trying to get or give anything else from or to me.
  • The weather. Maybe you’ve seen the underwater freeways and manholes-turned-fountains on the news. While I’ve so far escaped any massive flooding, I’m starting to worry it might snow while I’m trying to move; it’s already snowed in the city once this season, much earlier than it usually does here. Or worse – it might get suddenly cold again and freeze the city into a giant skating rink the day I pick up a uhaul truck. My moving help could all be stranded at home. My uhaul truck could get stuck at the bottom of the hill in the condo parking lot. I had hoped to do some outdoor things this past weekend – prune shrubs at the apartment, wash cars, pick up leaves – but 4 inches of wet snow on the ground and almost a foot of rain kept any of that from happening. I realize I’m the fool that is moving in December, but I had not expected it to be this bad.

Normally I wouldn’t lose sleep over these kinds of things – I’d turn them into humorous anecdotes and be done with them. But this week I’m on a deadline. And I hate slipping on deadlines.

October Retrospect – Part 3

Not all of October has been sunshine and rainbows. Actually none of it, since this is Seattle October – it’s been more foggy mornings, hazy afternoons, fallen leaves covering the sidewalks and the occasional bitterly cold wind cutting through my five layers of clothing. Yes, layering is still in – look it up, people.

In addition to our first newsworthy winter storm (admittedly a very low bar for our drama-starved local news stations) I’ve also been brewing a storm of my own since early October, inside my head. As the chaos of this storm has grown with each torturous day and each insomnia-filled night, so has my sanity quickly but silently slipped from my grasp like so many grains of sand pouring out between my outstretched fingers. Lacking clarity of purpose and with no clean space inside my mind on which to organize my jumble of memories, dreams and hallucinations into coherent thoughts, I have been drifting through each day a ragged, hollow shell of a man, consumed in my own anguish.

For you see, I have lost my iPod. Picture a world without music. Like a movie that has no soundtrack, mine has been a journey that lacks accompaniment. My secret weapon for maintaining sanity amidst a tumultuous life, my crutch, my companion, my addiction… stripped from me by cruel fate and a messy apartment.

I don’t truly know when it happened. I’ve re-examined every flash of recollection in my mind so many times that the true memories are intermingled now with both the hopes and the fears, creating a fable that is woven so tightly I have lost faith it will ever be unraveled to separate the yarns of truth from the red herrings spun into gold. There was a day, however, that sticks in the flurries of my mind. A day when I broke routine, when I didn’t put my iPod in the usual place. I needed a little extra 160-beats-per-minute fix that evening and indulged in such on the walk to my parking lot, rather than tucking my friend safely into my bag. When I switched from “walk” to “drive” I moved it from pocket to cupholder – still within arm’s reach. At home it was transported safely into my room, unloaded on the bed along with the other contents of my pockets – or at least, that’s one of the clips played so much in my mind that I’m convinced it must have happened that way. I stacked it with the other things I intended to pack for vacation the next day.

A day went by before I packed to leave, and on that day it was nowhere. I settled on traveling without it – against my better judgement – and left for a week empty of both hand and heart. When I returned the memories were foggy, the clutter piled even higher, and the last known location of the iPod lost deeper and deeper in my mind’s abyss.

Weeks have gone by and the detachment has grown severe. Each day I cease to function a little more, slowly but continuously wilting like a plant denied the sun, retreating into a confused malaise of mumbling, self-doubt and misanthropy. In a rare moment of clarity today I determined to cut my losses, to sever the bleeding limb and cauterize the wound to salvage what of life’s blood still flows in my mind’s musical veins. I found another iPod on ebay, and bid on it, and won. The same model as before, a 60gb iPod Photo, far from the cutting edge but a seamless replacement for the missing puzzle block in my life whose lack has rendered the puzzle’s image irrecognizable.

My purgatory has a limit, and it is marked by a UPS tracking number.

I am teh stoopid

I have been so stupid this whole week. I can’t even begin. It’s a real miracle i’m still able to type, as my brain seems to have failed me in everything else lately. I guess typing is half muscle memory, though… not that those are extremely reliable, either. For a very self-reliant person such as myself, it can be very disturbing and outright frightening when the only person you ever really put any trust in – yourself – suddenly becomes undependable. At least someday when i get old and go crazy it won’t be a totally unfamiliar feeling.

So, you want examples, huh? Humorous anecdotes allowing you to laugh at my expense? Well, i guess that is why you’re here, after all, so i’ll indulge you. There have been lots of little things this week that just keep tightening the straighjacket one lace at a time:

I headed to opening day baseball monday without the two things i really needed: an umbrella for the drenching walk through south Seattle, and sunglasses for the inevitable roof opening. Now i pondered both these things before i left home, but somehow decided it wouldn’t rain and also wouldn’t not rain, so i would need neither. In Seattle you always need one of those, usually both. I chose none. Stupid.

Bought my parking pass for April on friday, and put it “somewhere safe” until i was in the truck again. Promptly forgot about it. Remembered this morning, and then couldn’t find it. Looked in my work bag, then tore the house apart, then found it in the work bag 20 minutes later, suddenly no longer invisible. Set it on the counter so i wouldn’t forget it… and walked out of the house without it. Left my truck running in the driveway, door open, heater on, while i searched the house for it once again. Surprise…it was on the counter. Stupid.

Monday’s iPod fiasco. Ugh. I’m still mad at myself for this one. So – in case you forgot – it’s half worked for the last year. Plays music, charges battery, but won’t talk to Powerbook. So no changing the music collection or playlists. But still usable. Apple store techs said it needed a new logic board, and i found one on ebay last week for $35 – sweet! It came on monday. This is where the story goes briefly uphill, and then plummets straight back down. Installed new logic board, wasn’t that hard. It worked! I couldn’t believe it. I was giddy with joy! Synced right up to the Powerbook, was all set to slap some new songs on there, so exciting! Then i got greedy… and this is where the regret starts. Makes me sick just thinking about it. I thought maybe i should install that update (iPod software update 2005-03-23); probably cool features i didn’t have, and other goodies! I mean it’s working perfectly and requires no update, but i can’t miss out on free features! Right? Stupid. The update totally busted it, now it’s hung in a boot loop with a fried OS. No syncing, no charging, no music… 100% less iPod than before. So stupid. Ugh. I hate myself for this one.

You think i’m done? Ha. Tuesday is errand day, and as it’s officially spring now the skis are headed to storage, and the summer gear is coming out. Plus the stock rims/tires from the Z need a better home than my itty bitty garage. Loaded the Pathy all up with junk. Yes, i did remember to loosen the ski bindings, thanx to Gabe for that. Word to the fellow stupid-heads out there: if you’re going to be an idiot at least have friends that are willing to nag you about taking proper care of your stuff. Anyway, i haul my sorry self and a big pile of gear down to Renton (30 miles) and just as i reach the exit, i realize the key to my storage unit padlock is still at home in Edmonds. U-turn, an hour in traffic back home. Retrieved key from counter where i left it so i wouldn’t forget it (perhaps i need a new “don’t forget this” spot?) and spent an hour in traffic driving back down there. Oh, and 30 dollars in gas, too. Yeah, that was awesome. I am so stupid.

So we’ve concluded that i’m stupid. Yes, standardized test scores cannot compete with this kind of emperical data. Anyone who was counting on me growing up to be a nuclear physicist might want to invest their stock in someone a little more likely to succeed, like or that guy.

Last time i checked, Jerry Bruckheimer was not directing my life story

Been a totally productive day of reading comics on Penny Arcade and watching whatever random cinematic enterprises are being broadcast today on TBS. Right now, it’s Austin Powers 2. It’s kind of funny with the sound off… but not totally.

It’s been a stressful weekend, but maybe it’s looking up. For one, i only have 2.5 hrs of work left. And then i get my two days off (instead of the usual three – i covered for someone today). But i thought i was working again tonight – covering half the night shift – but Vince straightened me out when i came in to relieve him this morning – that’s next weekend that i’m pinch hitting for the graveyard team. And i’m (at least so far) not working the extra day shift next sunday, so that’s a 19-hour workday i managed to avoid.

Vince was also nice (and trusting) enough to lend me his key card to get into the building – and so i could leave the NOC to, oh, microwave some cup noodles, use the bathroom, and scavenge in the candy bowl at the front desk. I somehow managed to misplace mine at the end of my shift friday, and have spent the timespan since then stressing about it and getting frustrated with myself for being such a total tool. This dovetailed nicely with the daily stress of work (not so much the doing nothing part, but the always being on edge in case i have to do something part, that is very exhausting) and both of those were easily interwoven into the stress of packing, moving, and paying rent in two places this coming month. And is it just the weather, the time of year, or what, but why is everyone in a bad mood lately? I know we all need a vacation and aren’t going to get one this holiday season (or maybe i’m the only one that’s working thanksgiving, christmas, new year’s, and all the other major holidays this season?) but that’s no excuse for everyone to be mad at *me*. If you need to misdirect your anger somewhere, send those evil thoughts towards politicians or telemarketers, or some other life form without feelings and a soul.

Ugh. Let’s keep the rants short today. My head hurts too much for long, intense sentences. Although pressing my forehead against the cool glass of the monitor cabinet is very soothing… try not to think about the slimy forehead mark i’m leaving on the glass that wasn’t that clean anyway or the extra-intense radiation at this distance hard-boiling my brain…

What i really need a vacation from is drama. Drama everywhere – work, home, friends, bills, career, cars. Last time i checked, Jerry Bruckheimer was not directing my life story, so why all the accelerating climaxes and confounding plot turns? I did not sign up for this! My contract clearly says “romantic comedy” and mentions something about “occasional moments of cheeky seriousness”. Granted, i have not read ahead in the script (boy, wouldn’t that be nice!) but i really don’t see all these loose ends tying up nicely into a happy ending that involves fading light and someplace picturesque. If anything, it’s more like watching a sweater be unraveled, and at the end all you’re left with is a shapeless pile of twisted thread. And believe me, the thread unravels steadily every day, and i think as it flows out one ear it takes pieces of my brain with it.

Just today my theory was proven summarily true, as i found my key card only moments ago on a shelf in the corner, right where i hang my jacket. Where i hang my jacket on weekdays, that is, when i’m sharing this office and all the chairs are used. But on weekends when i’m here alone, i’m lazy and drape my jacket over an empty chair… and thus hadn’t walked by this shelf or seen my laminated face grimacing up from it’s attached keytag since friday afternoon. Instead, i spent saturday evening tearing apart my bedroom, my office, my Pathfinder, the front yard, and small sections of the street with a flashlight and what must have been an appropriate-only-on-halloween-eve fiendish stare only to terminate my search while still fruitless and seek distraction.

Danielle and i found some distraction at Dave T’s halloween party – and found a good excuse to wear our costumes (that she was mostly responsible for assembling – thanx Danielle for sewing all the patches on my coveralls!). We didn’t stay too late, but enjoyed ourselves for a bit before getting me home to bed so i could work this morning.

With the whole DST switch it should have been a little easier to get up at 5.30 am, but noooo… tired stupid me didn’t set any clocks before i went to bed, so i drug myself out of bed and downtown, and was halfway down the block from my parking space when i brandished my phone (to call Vince to come let me in at the front door – remember i am still key-less at this point) and was greeted with a cheerful “Do you wish to update the time?” which apparently is poorly translated from the Finnish phrase for “Haha sucker! You’re an hour early for work! I can see the L on your forehead from Helsinki!”

So across the street from work with a little over an hour to kill, and running on less than 4 hours sleep anyway, Mr Sandman won me over and i crawled into the backseat of my Pathfinder, covered myself in that blanket i keep in the back, warily set an alarm in the phone i wasn’t sure i could trust, and crashed out fully-clothed in a dark downtown street like the bum that i am.

Some days have all the luck.

The strange little lego freddie-looking alien guy on top of my monitor is staring at me today. Normally i’d stare back, but i’m really tired right now and i just don’t think i’d win. Here’s a funny story for you. Last nite when i got home i noticed there is condensation inside my right light bulb, probably a result of my changing all the bulbs this week and cleaning the engine bay in preparation for selling it (the car, not just the engine bay). So i took the bulb out, along with the rubber seal around it, and set them on top of a nearby fuse box, so the bulb housing could air out last nite. This morning, because i’m stupid, i got in the car and headed for work. About 6 blocks from home i remembered the carefully-balanced parts under the hood, and pulled over. Of course, the bulb was totally gone. At least the rubber seal was still there. I poked around in the splash guards and whatnot, but no bulb. Closed the hood and drove two more blocks before i decided it would be a good idea to grab the rubber seal out of there before it, too, fell thru the cracks. Again, reference my stupidity. Pull over, open hood, grab rubber seal, back in car… people on sidewalk rather curious. Got home, of course bulb is not in the street in front of my house. I had a few spares (at least i didn’t have to go buy one!) and after testing a couple found one that worked. Assembled and ready… oh, wait… rubber seal is still sitting in the cupholder. Okay, re-assembled and ready. Head back to work. Two blocks from home, shiny metal thing catches the sunlight at an intersection. Like a mad person i jump out of my car to rescue it and… it’s an empty pack of dentyne. No, just kidding, it’s the bulb, and no one’s driven over it yet. But i felt pretty weird picking up shiny garbage in the street with cars behind me, it might as well have been a pack of gum. So moral of the story is… if you take your car apart and then go to bed, put a post-it on the dash first so you don’t drive off in a disassembled car in the morning. There is now a pack of post-its in my car.

At least it’s friday, so i only have a few more hours of being behind the wheel or around sharp objects where i risk injuring myself at the hands of my own stupidity. This weekend is Bumbershoot and i have tickets for two days, saturday and monday. There’s several bands i want to see saturday, but i couldn’t get anyone else to commit to going, so i just bought the ticket anyway and i’m gonna go regardless. They’re only 15 bucks, for a full 16-hour day of concerts on a half-dozen different stages. Not exactly a bank-breaker, don’t know what people’s excuse is. But i’m gonna go see Macy Gray and Kinky and REM, and if no one else wants to, well, they can fall through the splash guards too for all i care…