July 27, 2004

What do we want? BRAINS!!! When do we want ’em? BRAINS!!!

Filed under: Funny Stuff, Laws and Sausages — tomemos @ 2:27 pm

Vote Bush/Zombie Reagan in ’04!

The FAQ is the best:

“Zombie Reagan would have been able to shrug off his 1981 assassination attempt and eat his attacker. He and President Bush enjoy clearing brush together.”

“Zombie Reagan has all the genial charm and old fashioned American optimism that we grew to love in the 1980’s. His appearance has changed slightly and he speaks with markedly different cadences — as is common with zombies — but he is everything he was in life… Except warm! Ha ha!”


July 20, 2004

He won’t leave town ’til you remember his name

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 10:21 am

A website is selling magnetic “Kerry-Edwards ’04” bumper stickers.

Because, you know, they’re easy to remove.

Is it just me, or does this send the wrong message?

July 19, 2004

I hear words I never heard in the Bible

Filed under: General Me — tomemos @ 1:15 pm

I’ve alluded, in the last couple entries, to problems I had with the transfer of power to the two young women subletting my apartment. I think I’ll finally go ahead and tell you about that. To be sure, the problem has been settled for a long time, but it was so stressful and ludicrous that I didn’t want to jinx it by posting about it while it was still going on. That, combined with the normal quantity of procrastination, led to the long delay you’ve just experienced.

And so I present The Subletting of Tom’s Apartment, a tragi-farce in five acts:

Act One. Failing once again to learn from the lessons of the past, I gave myself one day to pack up my things, get my apartment ready for my subletters, and get to the airport. This was a bad idea. I failed, I left the apartment in a less-than-pristine state when I fled for NoCal, and on the ride to the airport (thanks Pat and Joe) we discussed how an extensive apology and an offer of a partial rent refund would probably be a good idea. So I sent my subletters an e-mail not long after arriving on Saturday night, telling them what they could expect and offering them part of the rent back. They e-mailed me back and said, “That’s fine, thanks for being up-front, we can work it out.” So I figured everything would be cool.

Act Two. On Sunday morning, I got a call from the two of them, asking where the heck my roommate was, they wanted to move in. I explained that I had assumed [and in fact had SAID] that they would contact him to figure out the best time to move in. I gave them his number and told them to work it out with him. Two minutes later they called back and said, indignantly, that he had hung up on them. I stammered that I was sure that this had been a phone error (I’m still 60% sure of this) and that they should call back in a few minutes. Here I began to notice a disturbing trend about my subletters (hereafter known as Good Cop and Bad Cop): Good Cop would be having a decent conversation with me, then hand the phone over to Bad Cop, who clearly was a fan of the “get tough, talk fast” approach (which, thinking back, fit the way she had dealt with me in person, too). She had clearly learned her tough businesslike voice from TV, so the overall approach ended up sounding fairly silly, but it worked on me because I felt so guilty about leaving with so many loose ends. Anyway, I got off the phone with them, still nervous about what they would think when they saw the apartment.

Act Three. And god, what didn’t they think! I still have the e-mail from them somewhere; I didn’t want to delete it while everything was still going on, and now that it’s over I’m afraid to look near it. They were outraged; they called the apartment squalid and unlivable; they said they expected me and my roommate (which is to say me–can you imagine me trying to get help from my roommate on this?) to pay for a maid service to straighten it up, and they expected a full refund of the June rent. Also, if I tried to argue with them on these points, they would “take [me] to court.” Again, in retrospect his all seems pretty silly–I know I’m not the cleanest, but I know squalid and my room wasn’t that–but as you can imagine, at the time I was scared stiff, particularly since I was already cowering with chagrin at the way I had left the apartment.

I composed myself enough to write back and reason with them, saying that it seemed unfair for me to forfeit the rent entirely; the initial response, from Good Cop, was not encouraging (Bad Cop was already looking for new places, apparently), but eventually Good Cop (not Bad Cop, tellingly) came around and agreed that, if I paid for a cleaning service, they would pay rent from the time after the cleaning service left. (She also explained that by “court” she meant “small claims court to get the deposit back”–pretty funny since they had only paid me half my deposit at that point.) So all that remained was to work out this cleaning service thing and I could forget about it. Do you notice that all of these acts end with a sentence like that?

Act Four. Enter my roommate. It turns out that, when the subletters saw the messy apartment, they stormed out in a huff, leaving–you’ll love this–the door unlocked and the key on the table. My roommate was reasonably annoyed by this. What was unreasonable was his suggestion that I find someone else to rent the room, this late in the game, from four hundred miles away. And what was really unreasonable was that he essentially stonewalled my attempts to work out a time for them to get the key back from him, not answering my calls or e-mails. It got to the point that I was considering going back to Irvine for one day, just to oversee a key transfer (or, hell, clean the apartment myself).

Act Five. Finally, two days before the end of the month, I wrote my roommate and threatened to contact the property office and blow the lid off of his own lease violations. The threat didn’t make him very happy with me–his response included sarcastic allusions to how “wonderful” it was living with me–but it worked, so even though he wasn’t very happy with me he did give GC and BC back the key and everything worked out, after a week and a half. Apparently the maids did a good job, as well–on June 30, meaning that thanks to roomie’s stalling I did indeed give up the entirety of the June rent. By then, it was just nice to have the thing over with, and even for a few days afterwards I didn’t check my e-mail without a feeling of dread.

So what did we learn from this? The experience was a progression from feelings of guilt and chagrin at my flakiness to the feeling of innocence that comes from being dicked over. Good Cop and Bad Cop (mostly the latter, it seems) milked my mistake as much as they could, and my roommate got one last passive-aggressive twist of the knife in. The whole thing was particularly frustrating since I had to conduct all this business long-distance, without a cell phone (left the charger down in Irvine in my rush), and so roommate could make himself impossible to reach whenever he wanted. Of course, I also learned to give myself more than a day to get out of town next time. So yeah, that’s the whole mess. I guess it’s one of those adulthood things–as Julie said, I went through all of my housing problems at once. (If only that were true.)

Since then, things have been good, and I’ve genuinely felt like I’m on vacation (funny since I have a 9 to 5 job). The apartment is working out great, driving’s going well (I’m testing in ten days), I even made it back to Karate (only once, but more to come). I’ll have to deal with the cast of characters again at the end of August, but in the meantime I’m enjoying the blissful silence wafting up from Irvine.

July 8, 2004

We’re the goon squad and we’re coming to town

Filed under: Laws and Sausages, The Old Dirty War — tomemos @ 8:23 am

If I linked to every outrageous political article out there, I’d be posting all day. But this one, from The New Republic, deserves special attention:

The Bush Administration is pressuring Pakistan to produce Osama bin Laden before the election.

Here’s a particularly salient quote:

“…an official who works under ISI’s director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed tnr that the Pakistanis “have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs before [the] election is [an] absolute must.” … [A]ccording to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that “it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July”–the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. ”

So that’s good news, right? Less than three weeks until bin Laden is captured! (We’re still waiting for the Saudis to come through on those low gas prices, though.)

[Thanks to This Modern World, which apparently got it from Talking Points Memo.]

July 1, 2004

And if a double decker bus crashes into us

Filed under: Get your motor runnin' — tomemos @ 2:03 pm

I drove for the first time today! Julie took me into Emeryville in the wee morning hours, and I got behind the wheel in a big parking lot (parking lots occupy something like 75% of Emeryville’s surface area). There, observed by no one but Julie and several perplexed Toys ‘R’ Us employees, I drove around, tentatively at first but eventually working my way up to “kind of tentatively.” After a while, I drove a bit on surface streets in Emeryville and Oakland. I had one near accident (at one point I couldn’t find the brake pedal, but found the accelerator okay), and I rolled over one curb, but there were no catastrophes and my face will not be on the news tonight accompanied by the words, “..are still looking for the moronic driver of a red Dodge Neon.” Even when we accidentally ended up on a ramp that passed dangerously near the highway and other cars, I didn’t die.

So that gave me kind of a buzz. Actually, the buzz has lasted most of the day (it can’t all be the coffee I had this morning)–as pathetic as this will sound to you longtime drivers, I’m still struck by how little effort it takes to make a car accelerate, or turn, and I don’t yet trust myself to harness that safely (with good reason). At the same time, it’s exciting that, with the slightest pressure from my right foot, I immediately reach a speed it would take me thirty seconds to get to on a bike. So I regard the prospect of my next driving session with a mixture of excitement and dread.

The ultimate goal of my driving, of course, is to get to the level of comfort where I don’t feel compelled to write blog entries that are, to most of you, equivalent to descriptions of washing the dishes or making toast. Not there yet, though.

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