Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Then There's This Holiday Party...

Your office one. Nothing says Xmas like a pot-luck lunch in the conference room. This year someone brought traditional Xmas empanadas instead of the usual ham. So, that was interesting. Carved myself a lovely slice of empanada. I usually go with the veggie platter which no one eats. This year I went with pie. Which everyone would have eaten if the person that brought the special individually wrapped cookies hadn't tried to one-up me. Christmas is not a competition, people!

So once we've all eaten our meal in relative silence - as a group we get together once a year so you would think there would be more to talk about...

Then let the games begin! Or more accurately, let's do the White Elephant gift exchange. The best part about this? The fighting over the rules. I keep hoping that one year it will end in either a brawl or tears but usually just a lot of raised voices. One can live in hope though...

Our limit is $20 which some people seem to think means $5. Last year someone received a $5 Starbucks gift card. Embarrassingly, they continued to search around in the festive gift bag but to no avail. Sometimes you get a good gift, like the person that received my cheeseboard set complete with slate blackboard plate and chalk so you can write the names of the cheese on it. I tried really hard to get that back but there's a rule that says if someone "steals" it instead of keeping the gift they chose, it can only be stolen twice before it's dead in the water. 

I think it would be a lot more fun if we all opened the gifts we picked, put them in the center of the room and hit an air horn with a free-for-all. I would bite and scratch and I bet I'd come out of it with a lovely cheeseboard set. The problem with this game is that we're a bunch of people who negotiate for a living so you're lucky if you come out of it with anything.

This year I actually did ok, got myself a lovely soft blanket*. Although I started out with chocolate. Which would have been nice to eat under my lovely soft blanket with the candle that the person next to me got, burning in the background. Could not close the deal with them though.

All in all, an awkward end to the year.

*Thank you Harvard School of Negotiation. Yet again, you have paid for yourself.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Parties

It's that time of year where everyone is going to their work Christmas parties. Some of these are very elaborate affairs - like my corporate one for the whole company. NBCUniversal opened up Universal Studios Hollywood for the first time to all the employees for free rides, free food and games and a chance to watch the Whoville spectacular. Pretty fancy...see

See - I was totally invited.  Didn't even have to sneak in.
In case there was any doubt...
Look, I'm in Paris.  Says so.
Also says I am in 1938 so am apparently time traveling in a different country.
The dessert buffets set up all over the Park.  It's ok though, I only had one.  Of everything.  At each table.  Even with my math that comes out to more than necessary.
The Grinch.  Made the kids laugh by burping.  So I burped too.  Silence.
Whoville red carpet.  Not a pee stain.
See, just my shadow.  Damn, shadow adds 10 pounds to the camera.Apparently from the waist down, I am just a blob-like creature. In a muumuu.
Whoville copper - and just a very small section of my face and hair.  On review, it was the best section so I had to crop the rest of myself out.
Something else Whoville-like.  Grinch's house?  Grinch gramophone?  The nice thing is someone is bound to want to correct me...and then we'll all know!
Whoville Christmas tree.  Looks exactly like mine at home.  But not as good.  A bit flashy if you ask me...
Anubis just walking around like he owns the Park.  Although to be fair, was not about to quibble with him.  Park's all yours, buddy.

Anubis gets Osiris on the line...Dude, you should come down to the Park.  There's like free food and hot chicks,  Especially this blonde one that just walked in front of me.  She something about me being a party favor and therefore she's entitled to take me home.  Need you to cover for me.

Bright lights and slightly suspect outfits.  Apparently these people are not up with the Corporate dress code.

Really great shot.  By me. 
Jurassic Park - excellent timing.  By me.  FYI - if you were on that ride, you got wet.
Even the stars in the sky cooperated for the party...look Orion's belts.  And his guitar strings.
Someone "Santified" a statue...
Perfect Minion ornament.  Could not "borrow" for my tree because they had people guarding them...I swear I was going to put it back.
Took some great shots of live animals they had:
The back of a baby fox
The back of a penguin.
Bloody animals see me coming and do this deliberately.  Not too minutes earlier they were all cuddling and doing tricks with small children.  Soon as I approach, they become back-facing statues.  I do question the intelligence of putting these live animals together. You have a baby fox, penguins and a huge eagle. Which you can't see because I went to take his picture and he gave me a look suggesting it was a questionable idea.   Then he ate the other two animals..
Who doesn't want to visit a land called Krusty??  Sounds idyllic...
You can not pick these Minions up and pop them in the back of your car.  They are for looking at only.  Who knew.
This one looked like trouble anyway
See.  he's going to attack the man and hug him to death from behind.
Even Spongebob won't play nicely with me...

And for the piece de resistance...a video showing the lighting of the Whoville Christmas tree.  It's all very nice but feel like they copied me a bit since I do this every evening at my house.  It's a little more elaborate because I don't like to do anything by halves but maybe I can give them some tips for next year...

Have every confidence that this video will not work...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Thoughts

"That's so interesting"
"Hmm, interesting"
"Really, how interesting"

No one thinks it's interesting when they these things. Secretly they are thinking about cake.

Other things people say that they actually don't mean:
  1. Take care. Take care when and of what? And for how long? Until you see them next? I think this might be a cop out. Because if something happens to them between the time you saw them and said it and the next time you saw them, it's clearly not your fault because you told them to take care and they apparently did not.
  2. Thinking of you. For how long are you thinking of them? Because if you're not thinking of them constantly for ever and ever then you're not doing it right. You have to be more specific. For instance: "Thinking of you between the hours of 10am and 11am for the next two days". Then you're on your own.  Although that seems like quite a long time to just sit and think of someone.  I can't even get through 8 minutes of Shavasana, thinking of nothing.  Also what happens if the thoughts of them that you are thinking aren't very nice?  I think to really cover yourself you should go with "Will be thinking only nice thoughts of you and possibly sending good vibes for 8 minutes starting at 10am tomorrow".  Disclaimer: These are thoughts and vibes only, there are no promises that anything will come out of this.
  3. Praying for you. I don't use this one since I don't do any praying. Except when I really need something and quite frankly that has not panned out since I didn't win Powerball. Again. Possibly my prayers were not directed in the right way or to the right person.  Because someone at the Lottery Commission is not getting them.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Who Wants To See The End Result?

Am not a big believer in having everything matching. I think you should put as much on as you can with little regard for fancy ornaments. If you have ornaments from your nieces when they were three and six, they should have pride of place.
Clearly takes after her aunt - can you believe this is the work of a three year old?  The way the ornaments are placed on the star means something. I think she was trying to recreate an M&M cookie. 
More home-made greatness - some angels made a long time ago out of that shrinky-dink stuff.  
Nice lips, lady
Jesus. Face like a bashed crab, this one.  I don't think she gets a lot of angel dates.

Very serene.  Don't know if I would be with that haircut.  Although Marilyn mole is a nice touch.
Can't go wrong with a little Kiwiana...
This is a New Zealand Wood Pigeon or Kereru as we call it. He's looking a little nervous because Albert is eying him up and already smacked him a good one across the top of the head.
I don't know where these came from but they're shiny and sparkly, so whoever gave them to me, clearly knows me well.
Bug on a tree.  With glowing red eyes.  On second thought, this seems somewhat sinister.  But will leave it where it is because I am lazy and don't have back-up ornaments.
Seems a little more harmless.  Glowing green eyes just mean it's jealous of the other one's higher position on the tree.  Might have to take turn-about.
 And the crowning glory - the angel.  Because I don't have a Star, Albert wouldn't get up there and I have to go to work during the day.  Plus with the wobbly, leaniness of the tree, I think it might be an OSHA concern...
Hawaiian Angel - because it's the place of my birth.  Also we have the same hair, just a different color.  Kind of a big ball of fluff. Those look like skulls on her belt - which is not very angel-like.  Possibly "kills" in order to be supreme top of the tree angel?
And here it is - beautiful. Really showcases my artistic talent. Who else gets up in the middle of the night to see the twinkly lights on?
Shout-out to the wall for holding it up...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Getting A Xmas Tree - The Finale

Sounds quite fancy doesn't it? You would think I'd gotten the tree to beat all trees. Like this one:
This is at the mall by my house - The Grove.  It's the largest Xmas tree in North America at 100 ft - so clearly my 10 ft calculations in my previous post, were spot on. I might have made that up but I can say that I verified the fact by looking at it and it was f&%$ing tall.  I should submit that entry to Wikipedia.
Anyway, I decide not to get this one and go for something that will fit in my house and not overwhelm my ornaments. Ta da!
Now, I don’t know exactly what size this is but I can say that my tiny foot stool dwarfs it. In a tree versus foot stool fight, my money's on the foot stool. This tree was hard won. By the time I got it home, I was all f*%$ Xmas, this is bullshit, man. But the wine calmed me down.

The first place I went to wanted to charge me $28 for something half this size plus a $12 holder. I think not. Possibly they weren't aware of my Harvard Law School of Negotiation diploma. However, they may have had one of their own because when I said no and walked away, they let me. Hard to come back from so I really did have to leave instead of just loitering at the corner.

Next place was Whole Foods and they don't do small trees, however they were prepared to chop the top off a big one and give it to me. Only catch was, I had to buy the big one first. I saw straight through their plan. Thank you Harvard Law School of Negotiation.

On to the next where they were selling X size of tree* for X number of dollars. The one I picked was $45 dollars. There were some canny people measuring the trees and trying to talk the guy into selling them one that was clearly between two sizes for the lesser amount and he wasn't budging. Think he went to Harvard Law School of Negotiation.

Finally, I ended up at Home Depot. Along with all of Los Angeles. So that was fun. There was a massive line to get your tree trimmed, evened up and put in some kind of safety Spiderman net for the drive home. Newsflash people, the tree was cut from the ground, it's already dead. It won’t notice the wind running through its branches on the drive home while strapped to the roof of your car. It won't even feel a thing if it slides off on the freeway.

I was given a tree from the $20 area - where no one else was looking, this is America, after all, bigger is better - about the size of a small child which is how I'm now measuring everything. Decided it didn't need any trimming or protective gear so went straight to the front of the payment line. See, used my Harvard School of Law negotiation skills yet again - not only did I pay what they wanted, I took whatever tree they gave me. This course has paid for itself a thousand times over already.

But just when I thought it was all over and I could look forward to the decorating, they informed me that the person in front of me - apparently the only other person there who wanted a "petite" tree had taken the last stand. Not to worry, I thought, Rite-Aid is on the way home, I'll get one from there. No, I won't, they just sold out. No big deal, I'll pop into Target. For the record, no one just pops into Target - you come out with stuff you didn't know you needed and no money. And no Xmas tree stand. Luckily I have Kiwi ingenuity – stuck it in a casserole dish in a tall sided basket. Very classy. A bit wobbly and leany but that could also be the wine.

And after all that effort, turns out this is not the finale and you'll have to come back tomorrow for the finished product. And the nostalgic ornament memories. So, that sounds fun, doesn't it?**

*Wasted on me since feet are just what I keep in my shoes.
**Who else thinks I write great stuff when drunk? I just read this over and it's brilliant. Not even going to proof read it or reread in the morning. This is gold. Driving when drunk is bad, texting is bad but typing is the bomb!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Getting A Xmas Tree

I'll be honest, it's been a while since I've had my own tree and it's because I firmly believe, you need four things to make it memorable and worthwhile:
  1. Family or a significant other. With family, you can reminisce about the ornaments and their history as you put each one up, including all the really shitty ornaments that you made as a kid that your mother kept and loves dearly and wouldn't dream of not hanging them on the tree*. With a significant other, you can make it romantic by wrapping them in popcorn chains and eating it off...I think I've made my point
  2. Snacks that are terribly bad for you - not the popcorn because that's supposedly healthy, also can be quite strenuous exercise if you do it right. See above.
  3. Wine or your choice of alcohol
  4. Albert
Well two out of four isn't bad. Although, I have to say, the wine participated a lot more than Albert. I think at one point, he just left.

Anyway, this year, I decided to suck it up and just do it without feeling sorry for myself for not having 1 and 2 above. I did not succeed in this but I did end up with a tree. I went to my storage unit, retrieved the very cleverly labelled (by me - not only am I artistic, but I'm clever.  And organized) box that said Xmas decorations and took them home to see what I had. In the morning, I was all for getting one from Trader Joe's but had to rethink my options.

Think this is ten feet high.  Also, don't know how high ten feet is since I was brought up on the metric system but after a few calculations..seems right. 
Room for just the one ornament. So, that wasn't going to work. Because I have two.

And now for the're going to have to wait until tomorrow to see how it turned out. How's that for a cliffhanger? Did she get one? Was it the right size? Is it a Noble fir or a Douglas? Stay tuned, all your burning question will be answered tomorrow. Because I have to go to bed now because of the wine in the aforementioned number 3 above.

*Quite right, really, I am very artistically gifted.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Some House Buying Observations

You see a house you like, you make some inquiries as to its availability and set up an appointment to check it out. 

You take a look and maybe if it fits your requirements, you make an initial offer. At this point you have to invest a certain amount of emotion, otherwise you wouldn't be interested in living there in the first place. You start imagining where your furniture would go, things you would change, your first Xmas, hosting all the family. 

You anxiously await the realtor's call. You don't want to contact them as you're trying to play it cool - no big deal, houses come and go - but inside you're wondering why he hasn't called ? Was your offer not good enough, did you have too many buyer conditions or is the house just not that into you? 

Maybe you leave a casual message, suggest that you're going to start submitting offers on other places to see if that will make him get back to you.

If he's a good realtor, he will get back to you eventually, completely oblivious to the fact that your life has been on hold until he calls.  Then he delivers the bad news - someone else was better than you.  The buyers preferred someone else.  They suited the house better, they had more money, they didn't want a Builder's report*.  If he's a bad realtor, he just never calls and you're left wondering, what did you do wrong? A few weeks later you see if was sold and realize it was never meant to be...

So you start over.  Check out some houses online, visit a few open homes and start to pinpoint your next target.  And so it goes, you repeat the process all over again, convinced you've found the perfect place and no other will do.  But it's ok because there's no way, this one will slip through your hands.  It was meant to be**.

A bit like trying to find a man.  But not to worry, there are plenty more houses in the sea***.

*Quite frankly, they don't sound very smart, fiscally responsible or a good fit.  
**On reflection, it apparently was not meant to be.  You got your emotions invested in a shitty house with gas leaks, impending sink holes in the yard and asbestos.  You've become attracted to not just a fixer-upper but a complete shit hole.  
***Which is a terrible place for a house to be.  You should definitely ask for a Builder's report if you're planning on buying an house that lives in the ocean and is not a boat.