Myriad Randomness – Drought Edition

As you may have heard, there is drought in California.  What does this mean to me, specifically?  I’m glad you asked.  Here’s what I’ve changed.

  • I have a bucket in the shower. I catch the “warm up” to water the tomatoes.  That’s new.
  • I reuse my shower towel “many” times. It is 85+ most days and it dries quickly.  That cuts down on washing.  I did this in college and in my younger days.  No longer is my hamper full of towels.  (You know, that subtle status symbol of being economically stable.)
  • I only run my sprinklers 2 days a week. Usually after 9pm when the sun goes down.  My once envied super green lawn looks like every other sad, green lawn in the Nor Cal.  I haven’t decided to kill it yet.

What does this mean?  We are mandated to cut our usage by 25% from 2013.  May I was down about 50%.  No earth shattering changes.  Just lots of little ones.

I know I’ve been a bit outspoken politically lately.  Quite honestly I’m both thrilled and heartened by many (but sadly, not all) of the responses I have gotten.  Don’t go by the comments here, there aren’t many and I delete all the “I want to kill Ashley” or “I want Ashley to host my Bukakke party” comments.  Most are far worse.

But seriously, how can things continue to unravel in our world?  Pope Francis works hard to bring the Catholic Church into the 20th Century and Fox News calls him the most dangerous man in the world?  People I know on Facebook call him “EVIL”.    I guess the world still must be flat, the sun revolves around the earth and Torquemada was misunderstood.  Really?  You know what I think.  I just can’t understand how some conclusion could be reached, held so tightly and preached so violently.  We know the gene pool is flawed, just saying.

I still love my coffee.  Have you had Equator Coffee?  I’ve been buying their stuff on line (their roastery delivers for free for a $50 order and I have it in 2 days) and now they opened a shop next to the Warfield.  We know mid-Market is on the upswing, but this is huge.  Granted it’s a mile walk from the office, but I get exercise, the coffee is great and they have food too.  Check it out.  Only downside is that their bean selection is limited.  No fear here, I don’t mind the online thing.  The sweet spot is the 2 pound bags.  I’ve been drinking the Brazil 45 Espresso (it makes a mean, well rounded regular cup).  $13.25 for 0.75 lbs.  That’s $17.67/lb.  Or $30.05 for 2lbs.  $15.03/lb a savings of 15%.  Compare that the various coffees at Peets’. They are $14.95-$16.95.  So the same price or less and much more complex and delicious.  And honestly, smelling Major Dickasons at home today, it smelled burnt.  Fantastic coffee doesn’t always mean expensive.  But there are expensive options too.  Ping me if you need coffee advice.

Sandra Bland was in jail for 3 days.  She was arrested for an illegal lane change.  Later, she hung herself in her cell (allegedly).  She was college educated.  She was back in her college town for a job interview. And she was black.  I have about 400 questions.  If you don’t, stop reading this now.  You probably shouldn’t ever come back to this page. I’m sure incidents like this have happened far more often than “white” America realized in the past.  It is glaringly obvious now.  Our blinders are off.  They need to stay off.  I’m not going to pontificate on this today.  But I am outraged.  You should be too.  How can you not be?

I’m pondering a long piece on the death of middle management.  Clearly, I’m not in the top 2% and I see so many fixable issues that are allowed to fester.  That’s what 30+ years of working in corporate America will do for you.  Of course I worry about being to self-centered and whiny.  And that you won’t care.

And for those of you that don’t know, R+L=J.  It is known.  It always has been.   Three words: Tower of Joy.

I’ve read a few things lately that you should might enjoy.  I loved the latest James SA Corey Expanse entry Nemesis Games.  It is getting mixed reviews from my friends, but I’m firmly on board and can’t wait for the show on Syfy.  It looks fantastic.

Tex Thompson’s second book Medicine for the Dead builds on her debut, One Night in Sixes and shows vividly what a fantastic writer she is.  Seriously, in 10 years you’ll wonder how you missed this.  She’s going to be huge.   Trust me.

Did you like Flowers in the AtticJR Johansson’s Cut Me Free builds off a similar premise.  It is defiantly YA, but sometimes I act as if I’m 14, so it makes sense.  I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading more of her stuff.  Especially those that are painted in horror tones.

I’ve never given Leigh Bardugo column space here.  Her Grisha Trilogy is fantastic.  Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising are all great reads.  Her next novel, Six of Crows, is set in the same universe with new characters.  It is scheduled to come out later this year and I’m excited for it.

In the kitchen this year I’ve mastered hummus.  Who’d have thought?  But homemade is so much better than store bought, especially when you can spice it to your tastes.  More lemon? Yes.  More harissa? Yes.  More fresh onion, garlic and herbs? Yes.  Hummus it’s not just for hippies anymore.  No need to wear the tie dye today.  Tomorrow you can.

I’ve also kicked up the frequency on my bacon jam. Bourbon Maple Bacon Jam.  It goes well on crackers, bread, grilled cheese sandwiches AND on your burger.  I made a huge batch and my guests inhaled it.  Guess I’ll need to make more soon.

The view from my building

And I love working in SF.

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Trouble in (slow moving) River City

Just a quick update.  I’ve gotten over my sense of loss related to the missing toothpick.  Today I glanced down because we all look where we are going.  (I was talking about transportation — get your head out of the urinal.) Much to my surprise, there was a royal  blue urinal screen.  My first thought was “what happened to the green?”  (Ok, maybe I do go there. Go! Ha!)

After a moment, I had bigger issues to ponder.  I was quickly past the “blue + yellow = green” stage.  The name of the massive screen was Rough Guy.  It’s logo was stylized diamond in the approximate form of a Weeble.  As you recall, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.  The Rough Guy was more of a top.

Seriously?  You see where all this is headed.  Who thought these were a good idea in an office?  Clearly, they were intended for a night club of sorts.  Or a sex club.  Or both.

Wasn’t it Dr. Seuss who said “Oh, the things you’ll see!” Nope, he said “Oh, the places you’ll go!”   I guess He was right. Although perhaps he should have added, something about the objects, sitting in the places I’ll go.

It was a shitty week.  Hence the toilet humor. <shrug>

(Not So Great) Expectation, or New Uses for Toothpicks

“The San Francisco Airport train on the opposite side of the platform has just been taken out of service,” interrupted my normal morning commute.  Pulling in to the station, it was clear that the platform was full of waylaid passengers, ready to do their best sardine impressions.  My current cozy environment was about to become hot and crowded.  Luckily, I only had a few more stops.  My expectations were set appropriately; I was sitting in the middle of the train and it would be a game of commuter twister to exit.

I was not disappointed; I bumped, grinded and politely asked the woman who shifted 6mm to really move, as her gargantuan backpack still blocked my path.  Keep in mind, she was not a slip of a thing, her backpack was her reverse doppelgänger.  Eventually, I was able to exit the car before the doors closed, thought this was never a certainty.  What I did not expect lay before me.

The platform was overly crowded.  I had not thought about the effects of the mass of displaced humanity on stations down the line.  Nor did I expect the complete loss of common sense that on display like a Melissa Gorga dance single.  Imagine this, a narrow platform, crowded with displaced people, milling about like the children of South Park performing the works of Phillip Glass.  It was neigh on impossible to pass.  I felt like the Black Knight was trying to stop me from going forward.  There was actually plenty of room, but the imbeciles in front of me worked hard to block my egress.  I couldn’t imagine what they were thinking; their actions indicated their desire to force me off the platform into the path of the next train.  Luckily I persevered and made my way towards my morning coffee and ultimately, the office.

I’ve learned to set my expectations accordingly.  For instance, it never fails that at one intersection on my walk to work at least one car will ignore the stop sign and ignore my rights as a pedestrian in a cross walk.  Similarly in Chinatown, people will inevitably decide to veer to their left and force me to my left, because, as you know, “in Chinatown, no one walks one on the right hand side of the side walk.”  I guess I missed that lesson.    Especially today, when the man with the murderous look in his eye walked straight at me as I hugged the curb to my right and forced me to my left.  He must have thought walking in Chinatown was the same as driving in England.  I mistakenly missed that clear connection.  Of course, by now my expectations have been reset.

Upon entering the building lobby a cloud of noxious air assaulted my olfactory glands. In Peanuts Pigpen leaves a cloud of dust in his wake.  Pepe’ Le Pew does similarly with his stink in the cartoons.  Clearly, a woman in my office decided to merge the two characters and use the most offensive scent imaginable.  It was so thick you could almost see it.  I painfully trudged through it, wishing I had a fan to serve as my urban machete in this toxic jungle.  I was sadly aware that this woman had found a fragrance worthy of the name my internal monologue had bestowed it, au de Durian.

I could only imagine what the wearer of this odoriferous assault was thinking.  No one would notice?  Clearly everyone did.  One of my coworkers had noticed another coworker went heavy with her scent each month for a few days.  He asserted that it was her way hiding Aunt Flow from the rest of the staff.  If that was the case today, Aunt Flow came for a month with all of her sisters and half the street urchins from menstrual town.  Clearly her expectation that her condition would go unnoticed were fallacious.  Nothing like attracting attention when you are trying to slide under the radar, right?

Once in the office, my expectations changed.  I sit at my desk, trying to be productive.  I set my goals, realistically as my expectations, which are rarely too far off, are to be ignored, left out and asked to do some minor secretarial duty from time to time.  That’s my typical day.  I’ve become quite adept at laying low, not trying to help where I am not wanted and ignoring the circuitous conversations headed off a cliff when I have the answer they need.  They don’t want my input.  It has been made clear.

One area I look forward to is my (almost) daily trip to the bathroom.  I know you think you know where this is going, but trust me you don’t.  In the late afternoon I visit the left urinal and do my business.  Nope no colorful language, just efficiency.  There, pointing at 2 o’clock is a sturdy wooden toothpick, half under the urinal screen.  Why is this interesting?  Besides the fact it has been there more than 2 weeks, soaking up fluids from a myriad of human sources like some teenage biology experiment from one of Cthulhu’s disciples?  Shouldn’t that be enough?  I mean the bathroom gets cleaned 2-4 times per day.  Perhaps the janitorial staff need special nuclear gloves or tongs? Why are they waiting for the screen to expire at the end of the month?  What makes this so interesting is really a history lesson concerning small minds trapped in conflict with mismanaged expectations.

We moved into a new office almost 2 years ago.  Within a short time, the expectations of the facilities staff were out of whack.  They picked a very beautiful carpet and layout that looked fantastic in several magazines and advertising campaigns.  However, it was both impractical, counter-productive and filled with questionable decisions.  As an example, the carpet.  While stunning to look at in its large sweeping patterns of light colors and (rumor has it) just as stunningly expensive, it is inappropriate for a large office setting.

In an office of over 100 people (seems like a good place to draw the line doesn’t it?) there will be all types of people – considerate, careful, conscientious and altruistic.  Of course with that many people, you will also find some people that are rude, clumsy, unthinking and selfish.  It is just statistics and human nature.  So actions were taken.  Emails are sent out regularly to make sure people don’t fill their cups too full, always use a lid and heaven forbid DON’T SPILL!  If you sit at your desk too much, you must get a mat, to save the carpet.  What is too much?  I think its 2 hours a day. Since conference rooms are in short supply, people sit at their desks.  Yes, there was no expectation that people will react poorly when they are treated like a kindergarten class being unruly at nap time.  The key take away here is that everything was designed for looks, not functionality or actual use.  But don’t say anything; that would be worse.

But, enough about the carpet, back to the bathroom.  One of the first thing I noticed was that urinals were designed for maximum splash back.  This isn’t the master suite at some hotel where you pay $1500 a night, this is an office where functionality, perhaps even minimalism, should rule.  Facilities noticed there were puddles in the men’s room.  The pretty tile floor was not designed to hide the splashes that occur in many such rooms.  So immediately, this became a crisis.  Emails were sent, notes were posted and nothing changed.  The problem is the urinal, not the people.  Somewhere, a woman surely thought that most of the men in the office were doing fire hose impressions to ruin her wonderful bathroom design.  Let me assure you, men have limited control over how much extreme presume they can exert at the urinal.  But since her expectations were that emails and notes would run the people like sheep down the gangway to the slaughter of modified behavior, they were unrealistic.  Unless no one uses the bathroom that won’t be happening.

There were complaints that the modesty panels were being stained.  Too late.  Yes, stainless steel can be stained.  There was the infamous “hit it or sit it” cartoon, where someone drew in yellow puddles.  Then there were the fly stickers so the men had something to aim at, theoretically minimizing splash back.  While these were fun experiments, my favorite was the constant carousel of urinal screens.  One smelled like apple jacks.  One was ginormous.  My all-time favorite looked like square patch of AstroTurf.

Keep in mind, the urinal screens don’t really help if that’s not where the hose is pointed.  It is more to assuage some deranged need to control actions that are in way related to the original flawed design.  After all, Ford didn’t solve its problems with the Pinto through an extensive campaign extolling the virtues of NOT plowing into the rear of the Pinto in front of you.

Remember the AstroTurf?  It became a magnet for any debris that found its way near.  Let me be clearer.  Men shed pubic hair, on occasion.  At the end of the first few days it looked like the shower at the home of a victim on The Strain.  You’d have thought only Bigfoot used the urinal.  Imagine the end of the first week, then the first month, because that was how long the unsanitary removal cycle was.

When I saw the toothpick at the end of end of July, I knew it was going to be around for a while.  That’s why I often go at 2.  I wonder when it will point to 3 O’clock or become extinct, like the Dodo.  My expectations are that it will be my afternoon companion for another 2-3 weeks.  By then there will be more irrational expectations and ridiculous situations to be shared here.  I began to dwell on its ultimate disposal and the discoveries later day Darwins would find and attribute to it, unknowingly

More Black Marks on my Permanent Record

I’ve avoided this corner of the web because I don’t want to seem harsh or only use it to vent. Let’s see how even keeled I can be today.
I’ve been pondering management quite a bit lately; more accurately, mismanagement. I see quite a bit of it these days. People often mistake management for knowing every arcane detail to the point of being ridiculous or completely controlling people so that they can’t make a decision to do anything other than breathe or shit without asking permission and guidance. Of course if management is not highly valued, incompetence and counter-productive behavior is allowed, even encouraged to proliferate.
Industry has looked to flatten management. The stock market and a generation of corporate raiders have shown that middle management was excessive and unneeded; filled with fat. Cutting out those layers in response, without appropriately adding in the skills to handle the world by managing for results and leading people to grow their skills have led to responsibilities being added to existing jobs, without the support mechanisms and guidance to help the average person. I know many people whose responsibilities have tripled (or more) in the past several years. Is this a cause and effect or is it just my time on this earth allowing me to see things differently?
There are many different styles of management and none are always correct. Different people and different situations require different approaches and tactics. I’ve come to realize that management is lost art and most of the managers I work with are a one trick pony. Years ago, I told a VP I was consulting for that he needed to stop managing his staff the way he wanted to manage and start managing the people the way they NEEDED to be managed. It seems simple, but it is not. Some people need to be micromanaged. Others need to be inspired and given goals to achieve. Others need something in between. Very few people need nothing.
Exceptional managers are often exceptional leaders. But let’s be honest, these are two very different skills and do not always go hand in hand. Very rarely do I meet a manager that understands the difference and works to make those two skills work hand in hand. There are also the needs of tactical achievement versus strategic goals. I often see managers not understanding the difference and thinking only about,” what fire do I need to put out today?” Of course putting out the fire that you started does not make you the hero either. I have learned a lot during my career and have lots of examples of styles and performances I use to keep myself in line.
I used to work for a highly decentralized company. I was responsible for IT in one division and worked hard to forge relationships with business users and find ways to improve their environment, creating efficiencies that allowed them to make more money. It was an exciting time and we improved the way things got done. Processes were smoother, productivity skyrocketed and overall profits increased. Of course some small thinkers in the corporate office only saw the increased IT costs.
One day, this company decided to centralize. One “powerful” executive had a few key phrases that guided how he centralized and remade the company, specifically the technical side. At the time I was appalled. In retrospect I see it even worse. He preached that “perfection was the enemy of the good.” On the surface, that might sound like a restating an incremental improvement goal. It wasn’t. It was his understanding that things weren’t efficient and setting the bar very, very low so no one complained and that it looked, like things were changing.
I was different than most people in my position. There were 15-20 us, running IT for the various units. I was an IT professional. I had 7 years of IT management experience prior to coming to this firm. Most of my peers were the guys that “like” computers and were moved from line jobs to IT management. A few were developers that were hired from outside, because developers make great managers. Sadly, most people don’t see the disconnection in that last statement. And again, management as a skill is disregarded.
I’ve always been an achiever. I see the endpoint, wallow through the ambiguity and find results that exceed expectations and change processes. Those results are not possible when you set the bar too low. And when you set the bar high, you identify your issues and solve them. That’s not saying “we can’t,” it is planning for the tough work that follows, even if it remains ambiguous. I’m all for continuous improvement, but creating illusions of success and change are counterproductive now and in the future.
His other favorite phrase was “some people have to take a step backward, so others can take a step forward.” As you recall, we had drastically changed our workflow and increased profits. Since other divisions had not, my division was “ordered” to adopt new processes and abandon the systems and benefits we’d implemented over the previous 5 years. These new processes were basically the processes we had left behind years before.
One example was our accounting system. We were in a specialized financial industry and had a separate accounting system for our clients. When I started, people used to run reports, analyze the reports (ok line item entries) and highlight the report; they changed the data and started over again. This process was a full time job for 1.5 people. We actually built a system to aggregate the data, highlight 90% of the needed changes and show the results of the change in real time. This reduced the effort needed to less than half of a person per month, which allowed us to assign more resources where they were needed.
The new system we required to move to worked similar to the old system, but we had to send our changes to a third party to input the changes and send us reports the next day. The new system took more than 2 people per month PLUS the fees sent to the third party. Not only did we move backward, costs increased, which represented a decrease in management pay.
I guess I forgot to mention that management was incentivized in our division by having a significant portion of pay determined by profitability. Innovation and improvement was encouraged. Yes, there was significant dissent and upheaval. It didn’t matter. It was to be. The other divisions did not have that component, so increased costs meant nothing to them. It was someone else’s decision. The fact that there were differences was completely ignored. I was not surprised the stock price dropped significantly over that period of time.
Needless to say, the innovations we had made were thrown away. 5 years later, a few were brought back as some other manager’s idea. In that way, my current role is similar. I was caretaking a department for several months. I worked with the various departments to understand their needs and goals to improve their environment. The new manager came in and decided that he knew more and contradicted every decision that had been made and cancelled every plan in place. A year later, most of them are back in place, albeit late and not understood. Imagine if he had the managerial skill and acumen to understand thing before he decided he knew best? We need not go in to the other mismanagement details.
In graduate school I did my thesis on the productivity paradox. In a nutshell computers, specifically PCs were supposed to make industry more productive. They didn’t. Much like giving a teenage power tools won’t make him a master carpenter, training, direction and leadership are needed to help one understand the craft and the art of the possible. We have a new productivity paradox. Today we throw people problems and often don’t support them with the skilled (or even competent) management talent to help them achieve and grow. Am I the only one that sees this?
Suddenly I see a world populated with managers like Ashely Broad. THAT might be worse than the zombie apocalypse.

Blue Tuesday

It was a Tuesday, much like any other Tuesday.  Filled with hopes and dreams after the depression that was Monday, but still lacking the joy of a camel on Wednesday.  Nevertheless, dawn broke and employment beckoned.  So, I got up, showered, dressed and joined the commute to work.  This was the day the BART strike ended, but there weren’t many trains running in the morning.  Thusly I drove. Amazingly enough, nothing memorable happened on the way to the office.    When I drive, I park on the street (surely you know this and the parking Nazi at 229 Harrison St.), but then I climb some stairs and take a sky bridge over the train tracks to my office.

Our story will start at lunch.

I decided that lunch should be consumed about 12:30 or so.  I grabbed my book and made my way to Chop Bar for lunch.  I eat there at least once a week and would eat there more if my diet didn’t prohibit me from my previous lusty relationships with their Reuben and Hamburger.  But, at least they have two different salads that allow me to believe I’m eating both healthy and (marginally) decadently.

We may be different you and I, but when I sit at the counter by myself I like to leave an open seat on either side.  It probably goes back to relatively large size and not wanting to encroach on other people’s space.  Or have them in mine.  I don’t like strangers in my space.  Especially, on BART.  So I took a seat one to the right of the couple talking.  She was on my left and he was on her left.

As I opened my copy of The Republic of Thieves, I quickly realized this couple was not a couple.  I saw that there was an open seat between them, but the real eye- opener was his voice.  Gravelly like a rock quarry and grating like brake calipers with worn pads, he was trying too hard to hit on the woman next to him.  He was 3 or 4 beers into drinking his lunch and she was scarfing down the last few bites so she could escape.  “Good,” I thought, “it will make it much easier to read my book.”

I enjoyed roughly 5 minutes of peace when another woman walked in and took the same seat. She ordered a drink and set up her iPad for use.  And then it started.  Reading became difficult and soon reading became a charade.  This was entertaining.

“Is your accent fake? It seems like it.”

He wasn’t happy with that question.  He was from New York and New Yorkers sound like him.  How could she not know?  Turns out she was from upstate New York, so he belittled her for that.

“Is Yiddish your first language?” I couldn’t really believe she asked that.

“Why would you say that!” he raged as though she called his mother a whore.

“My Husband’s Jewish.  You look Jewish.”

From there he attacked her naiveté.  And then he got to the fact that he has triple citizenship: US, Italy and **gasp** Israel.  If this guy is Jewish, I many consider converting. I’ve always thought the Hare Krishnas were on to something.  If G-d wants me in heaven, he needs me to have a ponytail to pull on, right?

Let’s be honest:  he was an asshole and she seemed to one of the people who help keep the average IQ at 100.  Not stupid, but she’s not in line for a Nobel Prize or finishing the Times Crossword Puzzle any time soon.

By now she’s flustered and her food arrives.  She asks for a to-go box and gets out of there quickly, though he is still trying to engage her.   3 minutes after she leaves, he leaves.

At this point I’m the only one at the counter.  I’ve probably read 5 pages. I’ll never finish this book (I did).  I notice the staff gathering at the other end of the counter buzzing about what happened.  I wait a moment. When one looks my way I say “if you want to know what happened I’ll tell you.”

They had missed most of the conversations and thought he was nice.  I dissuaded them of that opinion.  We all had a good a laugh and I went from the guy who comes in all the time to marginally more than that.  Good thing I can chat with some of them about Game of Thrones.  Yeah, I know a bit about that.

A weird experience:  a bit annoying and ending with a laugh.  Not bad for lunch.  But for Tuesday?  Nope.  There’s more.  So much more.

I tried to leave about 5pm, but silly little things kept cropping up and it was just after 6 when I was able to head to the elevator and make my way to my car.  Since I drove, I get off on 2, say goodnight to the guard (yeah, our building has the guard on 2) and walk across the sky bridge towards my car.  Straight across is the parking structure for the building and there is a large apartment complex to the left.

Being the observant buy I am, I scan the building to my left (It’s called The Bond, in case you care.)    Not expecting to see much I looked and saw too much.  I stopped and gathered myself.  FUCK!  I didn’t know what to do.  On one hand I’m appalled. On the other I’m shocked.  I turn and walked back to the guard at the desk.

“Uh, can you call the cops for me?” I stammered.

The young guard looked and me quizzically.

“Not 911. It’s not an emergency, but there is a naked man masturbating in the window across the street.  I really don’t think the women of the building want to see that.”

And by naked man, I’m guessing 6” 375lbs.  He’s got a substantial and firm gut.  I really shouldn’t know this much.

I’m all for letting consenting adults do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, but nothing about this event was private.  It was meant to be a spectacle.  I figured I should do something about it.  I don’t want to be guy who did nothing.  That’s too easy and too wrong.

The guard pulls up the camera on that side if the building and, nope, it stops right below his window. He believes me but doesn’t know what to do.  He radios his coworker.  The coworker won’t talk on the radio and insists they talk on the phone.

When he gets off the phone, he tell me that since it is not in our building he can’t do anything, including calling the cops for me.

Seriously?  I might have been shaking with anger when I left.  So much for doing the right thing.

Years ago, when I worked in the Financial District in San Francisco a coworker caught a guy trying to steal his wallet from his jacket.  The jacket was behind his office door.  We were on a locked floor in a secure building.  This guy was in a ratty suit.  If you glanced, he looked like he belonged in the office.  If you looked, you could see the suit was threadbare and his shoes had holes in them.  I came when hell yelled for me and we escorted the thief to the guard downstairs.

When we got there, the Guard shrugged, the thief bolted out the door.  We looked to the guard who calmly said, “I didn’t see him do anything, I can’t do anything.  There’s too much personal liability and I’m not allowed to.”

That’s when I learned the cameras in the elevators were props and building security is an oxymoron in most cases.

Back in the present, I walked back out of the building and about 10 minutes had passed .  The Wanker, as I was calling him in my head, was still at it, although off to the side, rather than front and center.  As I crossed the street, I realized the light was on in the lobby of his  building.  I walked across to the building and knocked on the window for the desk person to let me in.

I was probably a bit disjoined as I explained what the problem was.  She looked at me like I was nuts.  I asked if she was going to do anything.  Clearly she couldn’t use the “it’s not my building” excuse.

“We got a call about that earlier,” she said.

“Oh.”  I started to leave.  And then I stopped.

“When did you get that call?” I asked.

“Around 11.”

“Seriously? It’s still going on!  Don’t you think this is a bigger problem than that?”

Then she told me in effect that it was none of my business.

I left there madder than a hatter.  No wonder people don’t speak up more often and try to help; doing the right thing can be aggravating when others prevent you from doing anything.

Oh, and he was jerking off, fully naked, in the window again Wednesday after work.  I still see him in the window most nights, but now he stays a few steps back and has at least a shirt on.  I doubt that will last.

 

 

 

Parking Wars: A Descent into Madness

As you might have heard, we had another BART strike in the Bay Area.  This forced every commuter into new modes of transportation.  That meant I had to drive to work.   There were two key impacts here:  traffic was ridiculous and I needed to move my car each day at lunch.  There are plenty of pay lots, but with the abundance of 4 hours spots, and meter maids that only make 1 circuit, it seems silly to pay $7 a day.

You may recall, I have an on-going feud with a business around the corner that harasses people who part outside of their office.  The walls of their office had been cargo bay doors, but now they are walls.  There is one door which might still be a bay, so I don’t park in front of it.

I tend to park other places in the morning, because I can always park in front of their faux driveway in the afternoon.  A few weeks prior I had noticed they had added a new sign on their walls (not the steel doors that protect the walls at night).  They read “Tenant Parking Only  Violators will be towed.”  This is the part of our show where we get to discuss reality and some people’s lack of it.  I have no doubt that the tenants want to park there.  But, as I discussed with a parking enforcement officer, unless there is an official city sign, those signs that were bought on line for $20 hold no weight.  Wow they must be committed to the cause.

(Seriously, check out that link.  Clearly there is a market for people tricking others into not parking in legal spaces.  I bet they make a ton.  Wish I was selling these idiots their signs.  And yes, I know I completely ignore the fourth wall.)

They must have forgotten that the street and sidewalk are public property.  They have no specific rights to stop others from parking there.  While there was a cargo door they had easement rights of access and the right to be unimpeded, but they forfeited those rights when they built walls. The reality is that if they tow someone’s car for parking legally in front of a wall, in a public space, they are liable for the cost and inconvenience. I personally would love for them to tow me so I can sue them and go after punitive damages.  I will.

As delusional as their signs and appeals for drivers to park other places are, they have finally hit a new low.  Last week I got a new harassing flyer.  I put it back in their mail slot, so I’ll have to paraphrase.

[In an angry, yet pleading tone:]

You can’t park here.  We will have you towed.  Really we will.  We haven’t yet because we don’t know how to contact you.  We need these spaces because when we use the cargo door, we need to park the truck at an angle so as not to block the street.  We WILL tow you.

This is so ridiculous that I don’t know where to start.  How about that it’s a very wide street and only a double trailer will block the street?  Or that trucks that are unloading block streets all the time? Perhaps they use the only driver in the US that worries about other cars being able to drive when they are off-loading?  If they park at an angle, how will the cargo be off loaded to the bay, if the truck isn’t flush?  Let that sink in gentle reader.  Reread this list till you realize that it has been proof of sorts.  (I’m sure more than a few of you took geometry in high school.)

Thus, I believe we can safely say that if their goal isn’t to use the bay door as a cargo bay, because the cargo must go the sidewalk before it can be lifted up, then they don’t really need a bay door and the need to not block it is silly.  The truck can park parallel to the parked cars.  I really can’t see how they are making their case.

Therefore, I propose a call to action.  Everyone should find a reason to park in front of 229 Harrison St. in Oakland.  (This is a visual daily double.)   If you look at the picture, you’ll see 4 garage doors:

  1. The first has a stair case in front of it you can park there
  2. I’ve never seen the 2nd open, I wouldn’t park there
  3. The third is an office wall
  4. The fourth is an office wall

This is our cause, take up your keys and park happily.  And when the wicked witch of parking delusions accosts you, tell here Lee sent you.  I don’t suffer fools and neither should you.

This was the start of an exciting several days, don’t miss the next post, you won’t believe my Tuesday.

Trouble Me (with appologies to 10,000 Maniacs)

My regular readers, as opposed to my irregular writing schedule, will know that commuting is a common topic.  And why not?  I do commute 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, more or less.  Today I got into my car and my chariot roared to life.  Soon the radio kicked in and Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” changed my consciousness.  It was 1988 and I was joined by 50,000 of my closest fans watching the Amnesty International Benefit Concert.  Being over the hill, I also like harkening back to my 20s and a simpler time without as many worries.

It was a great show. Sting cancelled so Springsteen and E-Street Band and Peter Gabriel and to play longer sets, which was fantastic, because dreams of blue turtles bored me to tears.  I thought about being 15 and riding my bike to the record store to get Gabriel’s first solo album.  Yeah I was that cool.  So cool I didn’t have a girlfriend, but my music rocked.

As I was enjoying my groove, I came to the 4-way stop where I turn left.  Still, bopping a bit, I watched the car to my left move across the intersection and the SUV to my right turn right.  As the first car  passed me, I pulled out.  (Insert the sound of dishes breaking.)  So much for my groove.  The 2nd car to my left decided the stop sign didn’t apply to her.  She slammed on her breaks and glared at me as I deigned to follow the traffic laws that did not apply to her.

I gathered my wits in time for the SUV’s driver to decide that he was really a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos and the turn was a fake, moving in a pseudo U-turn to cut me off.  Clearly, starting a turn and finishing it is optional today.  I missed that memo.

I moved along my path, keeping in mind I’m only 4 blocks from home.  Ok, maybe 6.  Up ahead is a stop light, with a free right turn.  There are 3 lanes of traffic on the busy artery ahead, but the turn lane is generally pretty empty.  A head sat a car, frozen in terror because all 3 lanes weren’t clear.  You know the driver; he won’t turn right unless they can turn into the fast lane.  What ever happened to merging?  I’m pretty sure this is the same driver that enters the freeway at 30 miles per hour because the people in the slow lane go to fast and they believe NTSB has empowered them to make the world safer.

Before we can turn and I can continue my descent into madness, the song changes to Rainbow’s “Since You’ve Been Gone.”  I turned it up to 11.  Or 12.    The car blocking my progress finally turned and because the artery was open for ½ mile, I had no trouble gunning it and passing them within 50 yards.  The rocking sound track clearly helped push my adrenaline forward and my mood moved from Peter Gabriel inspired Romance to heartbreak’s rage.

Your poison letter, your telegram
Just goes to show you don’t give a damn

My mind often jumps from tangent to tangent.  You know who doesn’t give a damn?  The GOP. My mind is still overwhelmed by this week’s spin that the President decided to shut down the government.  Even after that bastion of integrity John Boehner, decided that previous budget and spending agreements in congress could be left on the side of the road like a hillbilly’s trash, because it was time “to take a stand.”  Seriously?  Politics is all about compromise and agreements.  By showing that previous agreements can easily be reneged on to achieve specious goals, we can only conclude that any future agreements will be as solid as tissue paper.

This entire government shutdown is ridiculous, and seems to be staged by the very conservative right.  Let me restate the facts as I know them.

  1. The GOP does not like the Affordable Care Act (ACA/ObamaCare)
  2. The ACA is the Worst Thing that has ever happened to this country (Noelle Nikpour GOP Strategist)
  3. It is worth defaulting on the national debt to stop the ACA
  4. The GOP agreed to a spending bill/debt ceiling increase then decided to hold the nation hostage
  5. The ACA is a law that was passed. (We all know how bills become laws from School House Rock, right?)
  6. The GOP wants smaller government, isn’t that what they’ve just achieved?
  7. For every action there is an equal, but opposite reaction

My outrage reached a boil as I saw Noelle Nikpour make that statement on TV about the ACA being the worst thing to happen to this country.  Slavery, the great depression, the civil war, the Viet Nam war, Prohibition, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy all pale compared to ObamaCare (they should trademark that name to make sure it is hated by all the people who still think our president is a Kenyan Muslim. Of course he’s neither.)  I am sure there was always an undercurrent of hate and prejudice within politics, but it has become hard to miss.

I’ve put it out there; either you agree with me or you don’t.  I’m not going to change your mind and I respect your right to your opinion, though I believe the conservative movement often wishes we liberals and moderates were not allowed to have opinions.  What I want to do is bring two significant points forward that mean quite a bit to me and probably should to you.

First, when the government defaults and that seems to be the ultimate goal of the Tea Party influenced GOP, you and I will be affected.  When the economy tanks, those of us over a certain age and having attained some success are deemed expendable.  We can be replaced at 70% efficiency at 75% of the cost.  Leadership, influence and helping other achieve more are less important than pure cost savings.  I have been let go too many times not to understand what happens.  Hero on Monday; too expensive on Friday.  We all can be replaced.   I have been.  You might too.  Lifetime employment ended in the 70’s we didn’t see that till the 90s.

Since the GOP has taken the government and legislative process hostage because they do not like a law that was passed, how long before the Democrats do the same thing?  What does this mean for our way of life and democracy as a whole?  This is the political equivalent of a spoiled child taking his ball and going home.  Eventually that child either grows up and learns or has no friends.  I’m not sure we have time for the GOP to lean that lesson.  They have already spent years shouting that they refuse to.

I’m more depressed than I am angry.  And I’m plenty angry.  All that’s left is for the evangelicals to remind us that this is the first stage of the rapture they want and the rest of us are going to hell.  I expect that message in the second half of October.

 

It is Thursday, I needed to Write Something for You

As you know, I really don’t write enough here.  Part of that is my inspiration, which is limited.  I commute, that’s 2-3 hours every day seeing things that might inspire comment and snark.  I’m sure many of you are tired of my BART observations, but that is what you are getting today.  Much like Courtney Love said, you’ll live through this.

Today I was getting on the escalator when I realized the train I thought I’d missed was loading on the platform above.  It was a train that started at my station, empty and going my way.  What more is there to love?  I had thought I’d missed it, but it had been sitting there just waiting for me like a daytime hooker on a hot day.  As i rushed to move up the escalator, I quickly came upon two people, moving in tandem, there was no passing allowed apparently.  When the announcement was made that the train was boarding, they kicked it up a notch; from standing still to moving like banana slugs.  They must have thought this was Santa Cruz.

I probably should have bowled them over, but my mother taught me manners.  I tried to intimidate them into moving faster but they were oblivious to my need to be on that train.  In the old days, my station was the end of the line.  Every train was empty and I could have my pick of seats only constrained by the people in line ahead of me.  There would be 4-8 people in line and 40 seats beyond the door.  This train was like that.  Normally, I need to go to an end of the train, where the 5 of us in line have our pick of 8 seats.  As delightful as that sounds, when there are only a few seats, they often include the seats for the infirmed and seniors.  While I am AARP eligible, I prefer to not hold the seat when blue hair or pregnant woman gets on.   And they will.  That leaves fewer empty seats.  And inevitably all the empty seats are next to:

  • The gangster spread across both seats
  • The larger person who takes up more than half the seat
  • The woman doing her makeup, spread out across both seats, who will inevitably hit me 3 times doing her lashes or get make up on me
  • The person going to the airport whose bags prevent me from sitting comfortable
  • The idiot on the phone telling her friend what a dog her man is or the man having a 45 minute conversation with a stockbroker about how big his portfolio is.

Riding BART is a shared experience.  You often ride the train with many of the same people, as people arrive the same time each day.  We are all, it seems, creatures of habit.  One of my preferences is to not be touching the people I sit next to.  Odd right?  Other people have the habit of expanding their space.  I’m not sure if they are pushing boundaries or if they are oblivious. Either way I hate sitting next to them.

I recall several times when the rider sitting next to me moved their leg, then their arms.  They might have stretched.  Suddenly, they were growing like tribe of tribbles, eating into my space faster than locusts eating corn in farm country.  Before I knew it was against the window, my face pressing into the glass in some odd caricature of  an octopus looking for a way out.  I may as well have been spread for the police to pat me down for weapons or drugs.

I think you can understand why I prefer the empty trains. I can pick my seat, out of the sun, and use my evil eye superpower to keep the undesirables away.  Sadly, it turns out that I am the undesirable seatmate I’ve noticed lately that the seat next to me is one of the last to fill.  I don’t think it is my rugged good looks keeping people away.  I’m pretty sure it is my non-skinny frame and lecherous leer.  Seriously?  Do you really think I leer on the train?

I wind up waiting for the next train.  I’m first in line in the back of the first car.  The first and last cars have the fewest passengers because people hate walking to the end of the platform to ride the car only to have to walk back to leave the station at their destination.  If everyone rode a lark they wouldn’t go to the end because it takes to long.  There is always a reason.  When the train comes, I look to the left and see there is one seat in the middle of the car.  No Dice.  I don’t want to sit next to the obese woman talking on the phone.   I don’t want the single seat by the door.  Looking left I see an open seat in the last row, next to a tiny woman.  This whole process takes about 1 second.

I make my way there, fully committed to the process and my eye on the prize.  As I move into the seat, I see this woman is roughly 5’3″ and 95lbs soaking wet.  She is also asleep and has her right leg extended so that it takes up roughly 30% of my leg room.  ARGH.    Must be the circle of life.

 

 

 

 

As the Garbage Can Turns, a Drama in Several Scenes

Opening Scene:  

A middle-aged man in frayed purple robe stumbles toward his much-needed coffee.  He is tired from a long night, needing caffeine to push his energy level towards acceptable.  He has a horrid case of bed hair and  a  hard time looking above the floor.

Its near 6am and the sunlight is just starting to invade the dark house.  A noise catches his attention as he emerges from the long hall.  He detours from the coffee to see which truck is stopping to pick up from the cans he put out 6 hours before.  But he sees no truck.  Confused, he reroutes to the coffee.  Something is wrong, but he’s not sure what.

As he pours his coffee, a message from the sponsor, Peet’s Coffee, is displayed subtly.  He looks over his coffee.  It is dark, black and rich.  The camera studies it, making sure the audience knows it is from Peet’s.  It is not Folgers.  Taking the first sip, a smile can almost be seen taking shape on his face.  Almost.  On the second sip, there is a spark of intelligence in his eyes.  He walks back to the front window to look out at the street.  An white obelisk can be seen taking shape where the coffee pot had been.

Looking through the sheers that pretend to obscure the view of passer bys, the obvious hits his waking brain cells. “My Garbage Cans are not there.  THEY ARE GONE!”

End  Scene 1

Scene 2:

Our hero stands on his doorstep, in wonder.  A typical SUV, white, approaches.  The soccer mom driving it shields her kids from the fright on the stoop.  It appears that she is pushing down the gas pedal to avoid some unseen demon chasing her down the street. He takes another sip of his coffee.  To his right he sees his neighbors cans.  The neighbor always puts them on his property, not that it is a big deal.  Maybe they are his.  The sun is just starting to warm the day.  He walks across the dry grass to the cans he sees.  They aren’t cans; they are really large containers that he calls cans. When he was a child they were cans and difficult to take to the street.  These have wheels.  If they had been wheeled in the 70’s he would have never complained about taking the cans out and in.  Or in and out, but that topic is for another day he thinks.

He walks over to the neighbor’s containers.  He looks at them while he sips his coffee.  Coffee is like a cigarette in many ways.  A hard habit to break.  Something to keep his hand busy.  Back to the purpose at hand.   The address scrawled on the front is similar to his, but not his.  These are not the cans he is looking for.  Looking down the street he sees lots of cans, but there does not seem to be any duplicates in front of the houses he sees.  There is no sidewalk, so he wanders back across the lawn to the doorstep and walks back in.  Looking perplexed, he closes the door.

End Scene 2

Scene 3:

He stands  in the foyer.  Looking in the mirror he realizes he looks like shit.  Setting down his coffee, he tightens his robe, thankful he’s not on a Megan’s Law website.  Picking up his coffee he calls down the hall.

“The Garbage Cans are gone.”

“What?”

“Gone. Stolen. Adios.”

“Did you take them out last night?”

“You saw me  do it.”

“oh.”  Pause   “Are they in the driveway?”

“No. And not within 50 yards of the house.  Nothing in front of the church either.”

“You should call the police on the non-911 number.”

He shrugs.  It wasn’t a suggestion.  Time for more coffee he thinks and wanders back to the coffee pot.

End Scene 3

Scene 4:

He sits in front of a computer.  The city police department website is up.  The camera shows how ridiculous it is.  It has lists of reasons why and why not to call 911.  But there is not a “non-emergency” number to call.  Except for community service.  “Do garbage cans that wander away fall under community service,” he wonders.

A screen appears above his head to the right, like thought balloon in a comic strip or book.  Little Nemo and King Morpheus appear for 2 seconds and blink out.

Music plays, with a very short violent cut in:

I can walk down the street, there’s no one there
Though the pavements are one huge crowd. 
I can drive down the road; my eyes don’t see, 
Though my mind wants to cry out loud, 
Though my mind wants to cry out loud. 
Dance floor is like the sea, 
Ceiling is the sky. 
You’re the sun and as you shine on me,
I feel free, I feel free, I feel free.

On the screen a large burly brown refuse container dances down the street with a lithe blue recycling container .  They match the beat and the brown container twirls the blue one then stops and does a Michael Jackson Lean/point in time with the first “cries out loud.”   He continues.

The blue container stops locking and popping in time to opens to the sky and her spread her arms to the suns warmth with the last few lines.

The cans wander down the road, bopping to the rhythm, getting smaller and fading into the distance.

From off stage to the left comes a voice.  “This is ridiculous.  Cartoon garbage cans dancing throws off the noir vibe that is going on. Stupid.”

From the right comes another, more nervous voice. “It’s what the kids want these days. It’s his Wilfred moment. It’s Burroughs. Wait till we bring in the Steely Dan and the bugs in the scene 6.”

“He can dream about being Burroughs all he wants.  This is more Pat the Bunny than Naked Lunch.  Maybe we should shoot for Goodnight Moon.”

There is laughter from both directions

“We both know Noir was a pipedream anyway.”

“Yeah.”

Our hero  looks up quizzically as the makeshift thought balloon fades away and the voices go back to their hidey holes.

He looks at the website, realizing he’s reporting a theft.  Amazingly enough he found the right page.  Under items stolen, garbage cans are on option.  There are so many fields to fill in.  Clearly some bureaucrat realized that all this information was needed, but no one thought through the user experience.  Each can needed to be described and valued.  $5k seemed like a realistic number.  And the timeline of the event?  separately for each can?  He had no idea exactly when this horrid event happened.  No wonder there was no number to call. No one in the PD wanted to write down or input this information.

He sips his coffee and ponders a new fact.  Not only does this on-line report require his driver’s license, it requires it twice. On separate screens.  Really? it couldn’t auto populate since it already was input?  No wonder people have such low opinion of many government workers.  If industry turned out crap like this, they’d be ridiculed openly.  Wait.  Never mind.

Yelling down the hall semi sarcastically, “Police Report filed.”

“Thank you.”

Fade to blue, like the recycle bin.

End Scene 3

Scene 4

Black fades to gray.  A shape is in the left side of the screen.  It slowly resolves to our hero, though not completely.  If HD is 1080 this is 272 pixels.

Ethereally:   “You are the third caller in the queue.”

Fade out.

Fade in.  The shape has moved left.

“You are the <pause> second <pause> caller in the queue.”

Fade out.

Fade in.  The shape appears to be sitting. He might be drinking coffee.

“You are the <pause> first <pause> caller in the queue.”

Fade out.

A very long pause.

Fade in.  The shape appears to be a huge blog.

“Hi! This Cathy how may I help you?”

Fade to black

Slow fade in.  Our hero is putting the telephone back in its dock.

“Well that was easy.  They are delivering new cans tomorrow.”

“Wow.”

Fade to black.

End Scene 4

Scene 5

A silver car approaches our hero’s house.  It pulls into the driveway.  It stops.  The audience can hear the emergency brake being set.  The door opens and our hero emerges.  He’s dressed in casual, but very stylish business attire. It is clear it has been a long day by the wrinkles in his shirt.

He looks out and the camera pans right.    There centered in front of the house in the street is the blue recycling bin.

He stands there astonished.  Only one?  He would have understood two or none. But one?  Why?

In his mind’s eye, or in this case the ridiculous thought balloon screen,  he sees a giant green dumpster.  The dumpster taps on a large box.  His brown refuse bin emerges from the box wrapped in chains, his lid covered in black plastic.  The opening beneath the lid appears to have been shot through with nails.  As it steps out…

From the left, offstage: “And no fucking Tarantino either!”

Roll Credits:

Special thanks to:

Concord California Police Department
Concord Disposal
Nameless Neighbors
Cream
Film Students Everywhere

(Song Credit: I Feel Free by Cream. Written by BRUCE, JACK/BROWN, PETER CONSTANTINE/LANGMAID, BEN/WOOLFSON, NICK)

And now for something completely different…

Protestations to the contrary, I really never fear for boredom.  On a daily basis I look around me see things that are so silly, ludicrous and stupid I can’t help but laugh.  The other day I was leaving the train station and an older, frail woman seemed oblivious to the rules of the escalator.  You stand on the right and people walk to left.  You’d think being older, frail – indeed small—she’d have no issues keep the left size clear.  Nope.  She had lots of bags and placed them in front of herself.    I could almost hear the station operator saying “Back up on Escalator 2! All Agents to Escalator 2!”

Later in the week, I was again stuck behind a slow, older woman.  And if you realize I’m in my 50s, you recognize this is odd during the morning commute.  I thought she should have been at home at her kitchen table, agonizing over which pills to take why the Sudoku book sat lonely, begging for attention.  She had an odd slow shuffle and traffic pattern of commuters prevented me from passing her.  When finally my opportunity to make a jailbreak came, I down shifted for acceleration and she stepped left in front of me.

Hitting my pedestrian brakes, I was dumbfounded.  Had she traded Sudoku for radar?  I re-shifted, hit the wheel hard the right and made my move.  I took one step and she shuffled back to the right, using the wall the same way a good cornerback uses the sidelines.  At this point I slowed down, gave up and took video to send to the producers of “The Walking Dead” in hopes a finder’s fee for showing them how zombies really should shuffle.

We know that all bad things come in threes; of course there is one more commuting anecdote.  Coming home one night the train was crowded and day was hot.  Getting home any time between 6 and 7 means 2 things:  it’s hot and there are lots of people.  This had been train that started at the airport; there were too many people with luggage.  I think travelers should stay off commuter trains.  The train gets us to and from work; the side benefit is that it takes people on vacation. It’s bad enough they went away while we work; the semi oblivious way they use their luggage to create a steeplechase is just ridiculous.  Isn’t there a law about being oblivious in public?

I had finally crawled over several steamer trunks and piles of gift bags to get off the train and make my way to the escalator.  Amazingly enough the left side is open and we are descending from the platform smoothly.  This time of year this is amazing, because there are always kids coming home from San Francisco who just stand 2 across and 2 deep unaware of the rules we adults have.  Sadly, my euphoria is short-lived.  Just ahead of me is a man with 2 large suitcases on the escalator.  With both of them in front of him, it is obvious to me he has not developed or considered his exit strategy.

I hate be insightful.  Right on cue, he and his bags left the order of the escalator and mad a pile at the bottom.  The people walking on the right had to stop, forcing those not paying attention to walk into them.  The people on the left were coming off faster than the buffoon and his bags could get out of the way.  There was jumble of arms and legs and “heys.”  It was ugly and ludicrous in a way that only stupidity could be.  How could he not know to wait till the escalator was empty or, god forbid, use the elevator.  Yep, there is an elevator for just this reason.

But ridiculous things are not limited to my commute.  This week I was catching up on several TV shows on the DVR and while the DVR makes avoid commercials easy, it minimizes them more than eliminates them.  Sadly, the bumper for the TV show “Save Me” was unavoidable on several occasions.  Yes, I was watching NBC.  The tag line for the show is, “She choked on a message from G-d.”  Seriously?  All I can imagine is that this 3 second clip is on heavy rotation in Wal-marts in the Bible belt.

I kept wondering when the Westboro Baptist Church was going to start their protest.  This seemed like this is right in their wheelhouse.  The second or third time I saw the indigestion inducing spot, I realized the start was Anne Heche.  I know that here resume has been far from stellar, with many mediocre titles to her name, but everything about this resonates career ending.  I don’t believe this is the vehicle to give her cache.  After all, isn’t the first thing you think of when I say “Anne Heche” is “Ellen’s ex-girlfriend?”

NBC generally has decent comedies, but their dramas tend to, shall we say, suck.  I guess they are trying to pull their comedies in line with those dramas. I know when I think the path to TV rating success I think NBC taking a cancelled concept from HBO and putting their own unique spin on it.  I’m thinking next time someone says Anne Heche you’ll be thinking, “ wasn’t she just cancelled?”  That’s right, I’m choking on a message from NBC.