Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Après moi le déluge

This afternoon, when I went to go get my car out of the parking garage, it was in a pool of water about 3 inches deep. Apparently, a sprinkler had burst.

This happened once before, during the tropical storm at the beginning of September. Water flows down towards my parking spot and pools there -- and the drain is about fifteen feet away from where the puddle gets deepest. After the storm, it took about five days before the water had dissipated -- more from evaporation than drainage.

I went back upstairs to go tell the manager about the pool of water, but she immediately breezed right by me, pretending I wasn't there. When I looked back at her office door, she had put up a sign saying that she'd be back in 20 minutes.

I was pissed, and wanted to yell at her. Still, seeing as I had been trying to leave, I decided that I had better things to do than wait around for the woman. So I went back downstairs, rolled up the cuffs of my Rock and Republic jeans and waded through the puddle.

Did I mention I was wearing flip-flops? Ick. (I probably ought to be washing my feet. Again.)

Of course, when I got back an hour later, the puddle showed no signs of drainage, and the manager was gone for the day. And, in a cruel twist, she had put up a notice saying she was going to be out for the next two days.

I asked the concierge whether there was someone he could talk to, but he said he couldn't help with anything like that.

So now I guess the next step is to call the maintenance company directly, rather than going through the manager. And in the interim, I'll be backing into my parking spot, because the puddle is less deep on what is ordinarily the passenger side.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ask Dara Anything! 2008 Edition

I'm still suffering from writer's block.

The good news is that I'm going on vacation soon. Well, not really a "vacation," per se, but down to Florida to see my family and to have unveilings for my mom and grandfather. (Note to the non-Jews, an unveiling is a ceremony where the headstone is uncovered. Tons of fun.)

Hopefully all of that family togetherness will give me something to write about. But until then, I'll have to find other things to do. So, in that vein, here's a fun little game we haven't played in a while: Ask Dara Anything. It's your chance to ask me, well, anything. Just submit a question (or questions) by sundown next Wednesday, and I will answer it. To the best of my ability, anyway. Or maybe not. But you'll get some kind of answer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Observation #1

I've decided that, on occasion, I'm going to post little observations containing the incontrovertible nuggets of wisdom that I've obtained over the years. Hopefully this will be the first of many. Consider them gifts.

This occurred to me on the way into work this morning. I'm sure you can figure out the context if you try.

The harder you try to be on time, the more likely it is that you will be late.

Corollary: When you're in a rush, the person who gets on the elevator after you is, inevitably, going to the next floor.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baseball Jackassery

I went to my last baseball game of the season tonight. It was a crappy game -- the Nats lost to the Marlins big time, and almost none of the big name players, to the extent there are any, even took the field. And it was cold.

I left early.

This is unusual for me: I almost always stay until the end of the game -- regardless of score or weather or a dearth of stars. But tonight, in addition to the crappy game, I was annoyed by two things -- people actually -- and just wanted to get the heck out of Dodge.

First of all, our seats are right near this guy that I refer to as "Baseball Wesley Willis." For the uninformed, Wesley Willis was a 300 pound schizophrenic dude who wrote these crazy little songs performed on a Casio keyboard. He is probably most famous for "I Wupped Batman's Ass" -- which is quite possibly the best song of all time.

Okay, I kid. But it's pretty friggin' hilarious. And awesome.

Anyway, Baseball Wesley Willis does his own version of performance art. He stands up, holds either a beer bottle or a pen in front of his mouth as if it were a microphone, and shouts "Can I have your attention please?" and announces each and every pitching change or pinch hitter, and then either (1) makes a joke about their name; (2) comments on the weather or the stadium concessions; or (3) says something unintelligible that sounds like "Oulet creuset boulet boulet."

He apparently started doing this at the old stadium, where the loudspeakers weren't so good. But in the new stadium, where people can actually hear the announcer and read the scoreboard, he is just, well, annoying and loud.

This is even more so since he has taken to doing this while standing right in front of me.

I try to ignore him, thinking maybe he'll go away or stand somewhere else. But the asinine people around me seem to think it's a novelty act, and applaud him -- and he keeps doing it.


But it gets worse. Today, in addition to Baseball Wesley Willis, there was a girl sitting right behind us who shreiked, approximately once per inning, at the very top of her lungs.

This was not a particularly little girl -- I would guess that she was somewhere between 7 and 10, which means that she was old enough to know better. And her parents were sitting there right there next to her -- but NOT ONCE did either of them do anything to stop this.

In fact, they didn't seem to mind -- not even when people looked at her (and them) in sheer annoyance. If it were my kid, I'd have been mortified.

Anyway, I'd like to thank these people for letting their jackassery totally ruin my last baseball game of the season. But not all was lost: I came home tonight to an email from TINGB, forwarding this article:

Hot Dogs Force Evacuation At Citizens Bank Park

PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ― The discovery of several hot dogs in packages outside Citizens Bank Park brought the bomb squad out and forced the temporary evacuation of the stadium Wednesday evening.

According to police, Pattison Street between Darien and 11th Streets was shutdown as officials investigated the discovery of several suspicious packages near a ticket office.

Fans inside the stadium were evacuated, but players remained on the field during the incident.

Bomb squad members further investigated the packages and determined they were simply several hot dogs in foil wrappers. Sadly, the wieners were detonated as a precaution.

The stadium was reopened at about 5:20 p.m.

"It was clear from when we looked at it at first glance and when you looked at the debris afterwards, there was packaging and duct tape; I don't see many hot dogs sold here with duct tape," Phillies VP of Operations Michael Stiles said. "We just did what we felt was appropriate."

The Phillies take on the Atlanta Braves at 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday evening.

I guess my night could have been worse: No one had to detonate my hot dog.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thoughts on superhero movies

I finally got to see The Dark Knight tonight. I really liked it -- I thought it was exactly what it was supposed to be -- Batman movies are supposed to be dark and serious. And the performances were quite good, especially considering the genre.

But I might have been in the minority: As soon as the credits started to roll, my friend said, "Thank God that's over." She then proceeded to tell me how it was not even close to as good as Iron Man.

Don't get me wrong -- I absolutely loved Iron Man -- but this analysis confounds me. Unless they're the same actors or part of a series, I have a hard time comparing two different movies in that way. I mean, I can say that I thought Brad Pitt was hilarious in Burn After Reading, but kind of lame in The Mexican (and omigod hot in Troy!), and there's a fair basis of comparison. I can also say that I loved the first Spiderman movie, but as the series goes on, I find them less and less compelling. (And don't get me started on Star Wars!) But that's comparing apples with apples and oranges with oranges.

I think Iron Man and Batman are the stereotypical apples and oranges. For a superhero genre movie, Iron Man was a light, fun and comedic character study. It didn't have the same gravitas as The Dark Knight -- nor was it supposed to. Batman, on the other hand, was a completely dark mood, tone, and texture -- which is fitting, considering it was a study of the nature of the criminal psyche. Iron Man was all about Robert Downey Jr.'s performance; Batman was all about the supporting cast -- and Christian Bale almost blended into the background in comparison.

The only thing the two movies have in common are that they're both based on comic book superheroes. Oh, and that I liked them both. A lot.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Diving headfirst into the abyss

When my mom first died, when people asked, I would tell them that I felt like my heart was held together with duct tape and glue. But it wasn't just my heart -- it was everything -- my entire family. And over the past few months, it's often seemed like my whole family has been slowly unraveling in about a thousand different ways.

The best example of this is the communication. In the past, my mother was the hub, and we were all just spokes. Sure, I would talk to my brother a couple of times a month, to my Nana when the mood struck, and to my dad and sister whenever they picked up the phone -- but I talked to my mom almost every day. All urgent messages to or from any of the others were passed through her. Now, I have to call my dad, my brother, my sister, and my Nana -- and occasionally, my aunts and uncles, too -- because if I don't, there's a total communication breakdown.

For me, personally, the worst part is that I've started to worry about my Nana, my dad, and my siblings in ways that I never did before -- because before, if there was a problem, my mom would take care of it. Now, if something happens, I have no idea who would fix it.

All of this is just the set-up, the backdrop. The real story is that my sister, whom I love dearly, is kind of a trainwreck. She doesn't think things through, she has no focus or plan, and she oscillates between being completely, carelessly impetuous, and impervously intractable. In other words, she does whatever she wants without fear of consequence, and is often frustrated by the results, but unwilling or unable to do anything to make it better. And when you call her on it, she either cries or stops talking to you.

In shorthand, I usually accuse her of being "immature and irresponsible," and she usually deflects it by genuinely believing that it's just me being type A. But whatever words you use to describe it, the behavior has gotten her into some pretty bad situations -- the most recent of which is pretty majorly horrible.

As a result, my dad is angry with her -- or maybe just frustrated. The problem is that she can't really tell, because he's not really talking to her. Instead, he just calls me and talks about his disappointment with her. And she complains about feeling alone and abandoned.

I keep referring to this as "the black hole." Because all light and matter gets sucked into the neverending abyss of us all sitting around worrying about how to fix my sister's problems. And the simple truth is that we can't do it -- it can't be done. The only one who can fix her is her.

So tonight, I broke the chain: I called her. And the first thing I did was ask her if she wanted me to be nice or if she wanted me to be honest, and I told her that, from that moment on, her choice was going to define our relationship.

Quite frankly, I was more than a little surprised when she chose honest.

And then, we had a really long conversation -- one that was a long time coming. I told her that I worry about her -- that I'm concerned. I told her that I question her maturity, her responsibility, and her decision-making -- and that I'm disappointed by her behavior. I told her that she needs to grow up and take responsibility for her own actions -- because no one can fix things for her anymore. Of course, I also said that I love her, and that I will be supportive of her.

On the plus side, I think this talk helped: She seemed to actually hear what I had to say, instead of just pretending to listen. And she promised to call me in a few days, which seems to indicate that she finally comprehends that there needs to be a give-and-take in our relationship. The downside is that this was precisely the conversation that she should have been having with my father. But I guess that she needs to work that one out for herself.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Crash and burned

Before I begin, here's a bit of a disclaimer: This is not really my story -- I was mostly an observer. But I'm going to tell it anyway because things like this generally don't happen to people like you and me. So here goes.

Last night, my plan was to finish up some bathroom painting, watch some football, and then watch Entourage and/or Mad Men, and maybe I'd build the bookcase while sitting in front of the tv. My friend volunteered to watch Entourage on my brand-new couch and maybe help with the bookcase. So we agreed to meet for dinner at a neighborhood sports bar after I finished painting.

So, after dinner, my friend was following me back to the condo, and he was stopped behind me at the light. I heard the sound of squealing tires and looked up in time to see a red two-door car going really fast hit the back of my friend's car. Hard. My friend turned his wheel and, luckily, did not hit me.

When the light changed, I went over to the right to park my car along the side street to see if everything was okay. My friend pulled his car over, with his bumper all dented and torn. He somehow hurt his hand, but was mostly okay.

The other driver just drove off, with his bumper almost off and glass from his headlights shattered everywhere. He probably got right on the highway. And neither of us got his license plate number. All we know is that he was driving a red two-door car, either a hatchback or a sports car, and it did not strike either of us as particularly new. And we were both pretty sure that the driver was male.

So, we stood by the side of the road, waiting for the police. Four police officers came by, and we wrote out police reports while they took pictures. One of the officers nonchalantly said, "We probably won't catch him. Unless he's drunk and hits someone else."

So, all night after that, we kept wondering who just drives off after an accident like that. Here's our theories:

  • Someone without insurance
  • Someone who was drunk

For the life of me, I really can't think of any other alternatives.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Politics and Gender

I've been avoiding politics like the plague this year, but everyone keeps talking about Sarah Palin. Of course, those in the know are now talking about Jon Stewart talking about Sarah Palin:

This made me laugh. But this made me think:

I don't care about how Sarah Palin or John McCain take care of their families. I care about how their policy choices affect my family and millions of other Americans.

McCain and Palin get their health insurance paid for by the government (hers in Alaska and his in Washington). Yet they oppose giving the nearly 46 million uninsured Americans the same access to affordable health care.

John McCain's kids don't have to worry about paying for college. Yet he has opposed every single education support program to help others.

McCain and Palin say they will stand up to oil companies. Yet the only energy policy they support gives millions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies to do more drilling and he has opposed every piece of federal legislation to explore alternative fuel sources.

McCain and Palin say they will revamp how Washington does business. Yet his campaign is filled with lobbyists and she has cooperated with Sen. Ted Stevens in funneling federal money for useless projects in Alaska for years. And McCain and Palin have no solutions for Americans worrying about their jobs in a fragile economy.

McCain and Palin want us to leave their families alone. Yet they want to make rules for our families by eliminating our right to make our own choices over abortion, eliminate our access to family planning education or domestic partner benefits, and our freedom from discrimination.

They want to control what our kids learn in school about sex and about science. In short, through the policies they promote and the judges they support, they want the government to have more control over our private lives than at any time in history.

McCain and Palin now say their campaign is about change, too. Yet the only real change they have proposed is a change from a suit to a skirt in the vice president's office and one man fighting a misplaced war for another in the Oval Office.

Ms. Rosen is absolutely right: Talking about Sarah Palin's family or debating about how much experience is enough is a waste of time. It's the policies that matter. And, for the record, there wasn't a lot of that in any of the speeches this week.

Monday, September 01, 2008


It's been a pretty crazy weekend, and there's a lot of stuff going on, stuff I can't bring myself to write about -- and probably shouldn't just yet. But what I can write about is how I've made tons of progress unpacking. In fact, other than books and decorative items -- and stuff for the bathroom that I have to finish painting -- I'm pretty much done. So next weekend, I should be able to buy a bookcase and finish the unpacking. Maybe I'll even be able to paint the bathroom before my Nana comes to visit next week, although I'm not betting on it.

And the couch is going to be delivered on Monday, so I'll be able to watch TV in comfort.