Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Stuck in my head

All day I've had the song "I'll remember you" by Skid Row in my head. It's been in heavy rotation on K Rock. I'll blame it on the station's new format - old stuff, less alternative.

Then I've been trying to remember who is starring in the new Pride and Prejudice movie. I finally remembered to check imdb. It's Keira Knighly - who I liked in Bend it Like Beckham - who is playing Elizbeth Bennet. I still need to see that long version with Colin Firth. I should add it to my Netflix list.

And if figures, Skid Row is in my iTunes player!


I thought it was kind of fitting that the theme for our ATC swap at RAKScraps was "home." After all, I just moved back to the one place I've always called home. Having my own apartment, furniture, appliances never really made a place "home." My various apartments were just places to live - usually with horrible neighbors, termite problems, leaks - until I could find some place else.

Well, I picked this quote because it reminded me of my other home - RAKScraps! It is definitely a place where people understand me. And it's like some of my other past "homes" - The Daily Targum or the Rover. People put up with me and my craziness!

The flood

With all the trouble I've had with my apartment, my last day there was typical. I went there today to toss some old furniture and clean the floors. At one point while I was mopping, I noticed the floor was much wetter than it should be. It was then I realized there was two inches of water all over the bathroom floor and it was pouring into the living room. I spent three hours trying to mop it up - but I gave up when the water started turning red. I had also noticed some water seeping out of the side of the house and into the street. I had called the guy who takes care of the building and didn't hear from him, even after several more messages. I finally got him to come check it out around 8:30. He think it was coming from the roof and through the wall. We also found more water in the closet when he got there. I am so glad my furniture and everything was out of there. So on the one hand, I am tired and achy and wasted most of my day. But at least there wasn't damage to my stuff. And now I gave back the keys and I don't ever need to go back there.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The move

I think I am finally recovered enough to write about the move on Sunday. It was pretty crazy.
I hired movers this time because my friends had a hard time getting some of my furniture into my apartment. It's an apartment that's down a narrow little alleyway and they put some ugly tears in my couch.
So I went with a company that my storage facility recommended. The guy gave me a good rate and said he might be able to do better once he saw what he was in for.
I am always a nervous wreck before moving. I didn't have much help this time around. I'm not really friends anymore with the guys who helped last time. One of them was Khoder, who is in Fla. with Randi, and the other is my brother, who had appendix surgery this year and shouldn't lift stuff. Mom just had knee surgery. Dad almost had a heart attack. So I was packing and getting things ready on my own.
Saturday night Mr. Mover called me to say they couldn't finish their Saturday job and would need to wrap it up Sunday morning. So he wouldn't be there at 8, maybe 11. Well at 11:30 he called me to tell me they still weren't done and that the person they happened to be moving was Alicia Keys. (Don't know if I believe that! I said Alicia should pay for my move since I was being inconvenienced!
They finally showed up a little after 1 p.m. I had been waiting all morning. The fridge and AC were already unplugged, I hadn't eaten all day, and I had worked the night before. That means I was not in a good mood.
This truck was huge. It didn't fit in front of my building and they had to park it illegally at the end of the street and wheel all my stuff down there. The crew of 5 guys was pretty impressive - they had everything out of there in under an hour.
So we were all ready to leave but no one could fine Mr. Mover. He wasn't with the truck. He had his keys and he didn't have the phone. We were sitting outside baking waiting for him to show up for almost 20 minutes.
When he got there - I told him I didn't think this was very professional and he said he didn't need my business or need to be there. I must have gave him the dirtiest look ever because he said he's take the time off and got things moving.
They had me ride along in the truck because we had to make several stops. My fridge was going to my mom's friend's house. Some of my stuff was going to mom's. Then other stuff had to be picked up, and then we had to head to storage.
Well this guy would not shut up! He went on about how he almost died because he hadn't eaten all day (mind you neither had I) and that he'll get the job done and I'll be so impressed, blah, blah, blah. He wanted to borrow my phone so he could call his wife and his girlfriend, and then told me about how being a mover is a great job because the women won't ever know where you are. Real nice.
When we got to my mom's, he spend another 20 minutes chatting with mom and grandma while the crew did all the work moving my stuff upstairs and the other stuff into the truck. They were done and he was still yapping away.
I will give the crew a lot of credit because they got it all done - with 3 stops - in 3 hours. But I told this guy, if I ever recommend him (which I won't) I would tell people to make sure to make him food so he doesn't disappear on you!

I spent the rest of the day (and most of my time since) trying to sort through everything and make myself at home. The computer is set up and internet connection working properly. Also got the cable connection in my room set up. Of course, I only found my hair brushes today, but that's not as important!
I still need to clean out the old place, take down my posters, spackle and paint a bit. For now, my goal is just to unpack at least 1 box a day. Got four done today, so I'm not doing too badly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Rocky RAK

My friend CathyRose from RAKScraps was so cool and did this LO for me! I took this photo a few months ago, and it's just about how he looks now. Mom and I are doggie-sitting while his parents are in Florida. He's just lounging around - so glad he's comfy while I'm doing all this unpacking!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Page design

I worked on a fun project a week ago. I love all the animal photos. I am such a sucker! (Can you tell which photo reminds me of Rocky?) The centerspread was always the best thing about the section, but a photo editor always put it together. But it has now been rightfully handed off to the page designers.

Moving nightmare begins!

I knew something was bound to go wrong. It always does. In fact, I thought something did go wrong already when I tore open my thumb moving some crates, and then Randi and Khoder - two of the most reliable people in my life, went to Florida!
Well the mover - who gave me the best rate and a pitch about what a great job he's going to do for me - called and said he can't be here at 8 a.m. His crew couldn't finish a job today and they need to finish it tomorrow when they are supposed to be moving my stuff. Well, he says they should arrive by noon, but that doesn't make me very comfortable! He told me it should be a 5 hour job - which includes 3 stops. First we're dropping off my fridge at a friend's house, then we're unloading at my mom's and then off to my storage unit.
The only good thing is that I can sleep in a bit, considering I'm working tonight. Mom and I can move stuff like my clothes and computer before they get there instead of after.
I do not handle moving well. I am always a complete nervous wreck. And right now is no different. My stomach is fluttering and I don't feel like eating the Greek salad I ordered for dinner.
Usually the night before I move, I go out and get drunk. Don't think I ever planned it, but it just happened that way. When I left Connecticut, my friends from work threw me a going away party. When I moved to Cliffside, I had been out all night (got home at 7 a.m.!) with co-workers. And then when I moved to my current hovel, I had been out with my ex and friends at our local Irish pub. Half of the guys who were supposed to help me move never showed up because they were passed out drunk.
Tonight, I plan to stay home and get some sleep. Well maybe I'll scrap, but I'm not going out!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Now that I've gotten all that out...

Now I need to laugh about something. I took this picture of Rocky the other day. We're doggie-sitting this week. He stuck his head in the corner while I was trying to take pictures of him for Leila's catchlights challenge. Think he was trying to give me a hint.

Packing up.

In a few more days, I'll be leaving this lousy apartment behind the garage and down the alley way. Most of the shelves are empty, my books are gone, but my Beatles posters are still up and my computer is still plugged in. They'll be the last thing I take down. I've been packing and carting stuff out of here for the last few weeks, but it still feels like I've got nothing done.

I know this move is good for me, but I'm still upset. I'll be moving in to my mom's house, just a few blocks away. And at my age and with my good job, I feel like such a loser. But it's something I need to do. I need to pay down my debt, and I need to get away from these horrible people upstairs playing music all day and night and from landlords who don't seem to care if the ceiling leaks all over my computer or if the toilet keeps flooding. Ever since the owners bought this house, it seems that everything that could go wrong did.

On the plus side, mom and I work very different hours. So I'll have the house to myself during the day, and she'll be asleep when I get home. It's kind of like having a roommate you never see. And I'll be saving - the rent for this hole of an apartment is ridiculous. Gas prices are ridiculous. The new and higher interest rate on my student loan is ridiculous. I'll be able to pay for this now, and maybe I won't feel horrible about not having money for Christmas gifts or I can actually go on a vacation.

The biggest things I hope to gain from this is I can finally get rid of Matt, my ex-boyfriend. The so very charming when you meet him or introduce him to people, but horrible, secret life-leading type in reality. He helped me find this apartment when I needed to get out of my crazy housing situation. He spent more time here than I did, which explains why I'm still finding memories of him as I pack. A purse he got me. Some crumpled up papers with phone numbers, scrawled in his handwriting. A rap tape. A really gross jar of grease in the cabinet that I know I didn't put there because I don't cook. Ticket stubs from our trip to Lake George. All of it now in the trash where it belongs. The worst and hardest thing: A hole he put in the wall that he put there when I told him I was breaking up with him. I've had it covered with a U2 poster for the last two years. After that happened, I knew I was doing the smartest thing I've ever done in my life. But I still need to fix it. It's already filled in, just needs some paint. Then it's goodbye.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tech girls!

My scanner still isn't working! But I found a cool story about Best Buy and other companies finally realizing that women are into technology!

Gadget firms start to notice the gals
By Ellen Lee

Gina Hughes is a girl's girl used to living in a man's world. One of three women from her small Texas community to enroll in the U.S. Marines, the 100-pound recruit was the only one to survive boot camp. She went on to study computer science and land a job as a Web designer in Silicon Valley.

Recently, she has also become a techie diva. Actually, she became the Techie Diva, with a Web site (techiediva.blogs.com) about gadgets for women, one of a small but growing ring of Web sites focusing on technology from a female perspective.

"I saw papers saying women ... just don't feel comfortable with (computers and gadgets)," she said. "Starting this blog was sort of rebelling against that mindset."

It's just one of many signs of how women are flexing their power in a realm long considered a man's world. Women influence 89 percent of all consumer electronics purchase decisions, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, and account for the majority of the more than $100 billion spent on electronics each year.

Now, retailers and technology manufacturers have begun to pay attention to the buying power of their female customers. Like their male counterparts, women use technology to help them navigate their busy lives, from their cell phones to their laptops to their handheld organizers.

The shift is happening on all fronts. Retailers are becoming more and more aware of how they're selling consumer electronics, including making an effort not to talk down to their female customers. Manufacturers have begun to take a closer look at how they design and market their products, from playing up the features that will catch a woman's eye to running advertisements in women's magazines. And women themselves have taken an increasingly active role, such as designing fashionable accessories for the gadgets they can't live without.

Cindy Allen and Lois Fox of Atlanta founded CarryCell a year ago after they became frustrated with their cell phones. They couldn't clip them to their belts, as men do, and couldn't easily find them in their purses. So they fashioned "clothes" for their cell phones, small cell phone purses made as miniature boots, prom dresses, business suits, even poodle skirts, that they could use to carry their cell phones.

"I still feel like most of (the gadget accessories) are for men," said Fox, who as a real estate agent depends on her cell phone for her livelihood. "I'll go into any of those cell phone stores and all you see are little black (belt) clips when you buy a phone."

Debbie Anne Jaffe of Novato started knitting cases for iPods after she bought one a year ago. Though she didn't set out to make them for women, the colorful, furry covers -- including one collection that resembles the Addams Family's Cousin Itt character -- have largely attracted a female audience, especially those who want something that stands out from the silicone cases found in most electronics stores. She now sells them on Hotromz.com and in select shops in Europe and the East Coast.

"Stuff in computers has always been geared to men, but why not (make it more feminine)?" she said. "It's a big market out there."

The fashion industry's biggest names have also made technology couture. Baby Phat fashion director Kimora Lee Simmons designed a gold case encrusted with diamonds for the debut of the PlayStation Portable earlier this year. Her line also includes a pink, diamond-studded Motorola cell phone and a line of cell phone cases that can only be described as bling-bling. Betsey Johnson, Anna Sui and Escada also have their own line of cell phones. And Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Christian Dior and Valentino have all created fashionista-worthy iPod cases.

Aneta Genova, a former designer for Ralph Lauren, remembers looking around a few years ago and seeing mostly black, boring gadget accessories. She has since created a line dedicated to fashion for technology, from digital camera cases to laptop bags. A less expensive line of iPod cases will also be sold at Target in July.

"They're my two passions, computers and electronics and fashion," said Genova, who earned a college degree in computer science before going on to fashion school. "I wanted to do something new, fresher. (It's) much more about the concept of fashion for technology instead of fashion for people."

The tipping point comes as gadgets become more mainstream, cheaper and easier to use, attracting consumers across all demographics.

An entire generation of women have also grown up chatting with their friends via instant messaging, text messaging on their cell phones and keeping a diary online. Sahar Rezaie, a 23-year-old corporate sales recruiter in Walnut Creek, knew exactly what she wanted when she bought a new cell phone: the ability to text message, play cool ring tones and look stylish. She went into the store armed with information she had gathered online about carriers, prices and phone models. "I usually do research so I don't get talked down," she said.

The neon sign of the shift can be seen in the bubble-gum pink that has invaded technology's traditional black, white and silver, from iPods to laptops.

But turning the gadget pink is only a superficial attempt to attract female customers, one that could potentially backfire, said Paul Rand, partner and director of Ketchum Global Technology Practice, which has helped clients such as Kodak and Best Buy better market to women.

"The companies (targeting women) earnestly are still few and far between," he said. "There are still a majority of companies doing it on a rather feeble approach. (Throwing on a pink cover) only goes so far."

Kelly Faber, a 25-year-old from Walnut Creek, has refused to purchase anything in pink. "Pink to me is a very young color," she said. "It reminds me of being in high school. ... Would you buy a pink suit and be taken seriously?"

The smart retailers and manufacturers are focusing on how products can help or fit into their lives, Rand said. It's no longer about megapixels, gigabits, speeds and feeds, but about how the digital camera can capture their child's first birthday or a handheld organizer can help a busy woman track her diet and fitness schedule.

PalmOne created the Zire handheld line armed with research on the demands of its female customers. It included making the handheld lightweight, stylish and easy to set up, and creating a display that shows the day's tasks when turned on. Introduced in October 2002, more than 1 million were sold in the first seven months, and more than 50 percent of them were snatched up by women.

Many of the features could be appreciated by customers male or female, but the added features came from feedback "we heard loud and clear from our female customers," said Rose Rodd, director of marketing communications at palmOne. Later models also included photo and video playback, which have also appealed to women.

To reach female customers, palmOne advertised in magazines such as O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Vogue, Working Mother and Redbook. It also focused on how the organizers could help them: for "marathon moms," a means to stay on top of their family's schedule and their work schedule; for students and young professionals, a gadget to help them get ahead; for the businesswoman, to stay on top of their job and act like a personal assistant.

When it comes to shopping, retailers are also recognizing that it's not about pushing the gadget's latest features, but showing its practical uses. They've also found that women tend to do more research, don't buy on a whim and demand to know more about the product's benefits before they take the plunge.

"Women want to know, how does this help me solve a problem?" said Dennis Syracuse, senior vice president of Sony retail stores. It's not dumbing down, he said, but more of a challenge to justify "what these things are and if it's worth it."

Sony began designing its retail stores about two years ago to attract more female customers. It created wide aisles to accommodate families toting children and strollers. It included a concierge at the center of the store to help busy shoppers. It reduced the number of products to cut down on clutter and confusion. The stores, such as the ones in San Jose's Valley Fair and Palo Alto's Stanford Shopping Center, are located in shopping malls, positioned near high-end fashion retailers such as Tiffany's and Coach.

Big box retailer Best Buy took another approach. In its Dublin store, one of 18 in California and Nevada geared to its target demographic of upscale suburban mothers, it turned down the loud, blaring music and displayed banners featuring women and children happily using the latest gadgets. Its center aisle is wide and filled with technology-themed toys, from a Hello Kitty alarm clock to a SpongeBob SquarePants television set. A tot-sized table is ready with paper and crayons and it's right next to the store's personal shopping service center.

Modeled after retailers like Nordstrom's and Macy's, the personal shoppers help customers shop: customers can make an appointment, let the store know what they're looking for, such as a Father's Day gift. When they show up, the assistant will have already set aside several suggested items. The personal shoppers also wander the store, assisting customers, and ringing up their purchases so that the customer does not have to wait in line.

"This is a multibillion-dollar opportunity," said Bart Reed, consumer marketing director at Best Buy. "We do value women customers. We do realize there are things we can do better to serve them. ... We don't have our share of the female market."

Tanya Swedelson used Best Buy's personal shopping service when she bought a Sirius satellite radio for her sister. She returned this week to look into buying an MP3 player and pick up a Father's Day gift.

"Before you had to search for them," she said. This time, "they came right up to me so I quizzed them."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Just reading...

This blog entry by Cindy Sheehan in the Huffington Post. Her son died in Iraq and she is camped out in Crawford, Texas, trying to speak with President Bush.
Even if you don't agree with what she's doing, the comments are amazing and insightful. There are people who support her and others who think she's crazy and dishonoring her son. It perfectly illustrates how divided we are in the country.

Monday, August 08, 2005


One of my co-workers has a thing for keeping track of celebrity death trilogies. I don't know if I'd call these all celebrities, but it's a sort of strange trilogy.

1. Al Aronowitz. This guy was so weird to us when he came to speak to us at our editoral board meeting at The Daily Targum. He started telling us about how he hung out with the Beatles and Dylan. And we just thought he smoked too much pot, but turn out I was reading some stuff on the Beatles years later and came across his name. He wasn't making it up.
David has this photo on his web site. We think he looked like Mr. Furley.

2. Ibrahim Ferrer. I was listening to his album today and I was so sad. I just love this man's voice and I was lucky to see the Buena Vista Social Club a few years ago. If you haven't seen the documentary about them, you should! It's hard to believe such an amazing voice can come out of such a little, skinny man. I remember listening to BVSC a few Christmas ago with my grandmother and she told me all about listening to Ben More in Cuba.

3. Peter Jenning. Always my favorite news anchorman. I was off a few weeks ago and got to watch the evening news, and noticed he was still not back yet. :( I just saw the news that he died on CNN when I got home tonight.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Vote for ROCKY!!!!!

I entered this photo of Rocky in a photo contest at photowow.com. You can click on photo contests and then enter this number: 31438

Rocky and I appreciate your help!!!!