Wednesday, March 25, 2009

spring is when...

...the temperatures start regularly hitting 70 degrees most days, and we get more sunny days than cloudy days, and fewer rainy days than in winter. OK, I can understand that, that makes sense. Apparently, however, it is also when some of the trees grow new leaves or burst into bloom, and others let their leaves turn red and fall to the ground. Couldn't they come to some sort of consensus on proper arboreal seasonal behavior? The six month perfect summer is only a month away. Schizophrenic as the climate is, I have no complaints. Just mystified confusion.

Friday, March 20, 2009

what is this madness of which you speak?

The other day, I was at work and I walked up to my manager and another coworker as they were engrossed in conversation. My manager turned to me and asked if I had filled out a bracket. 

It was the beginning of the day, we were about to go into a meeting, and I had no idea what he was talking about, and was momentarily concerned that I had overlooked some work-related thing that I was supposed to have filled out. 

My confusion must have been very apparent on my face, as he then said, "March Madness? ...Basketball? ...College basketball? ...The championship? ...Are you filling out a bracket for the office pool?" 

Oh!! Much relieved, I said that I had not, and did not plan on filling one out, due to my (very obvious) total lack of knowledge and interest when it comes to sports. 

I was better able to seem less ignorant in Europe, where the only sport that anyone ever talks about is soccer. In the States, however, there is always something going on -- football, basketball, baseball, hockey -- and they overlap, so a non-sports person can never be sure what kind of game people are referring to watching "the game," and someone who is completely uninformed about sports (like me) is clueless about what kind of playoffs are going on at any given time. 


At least it wasn't some work-related thing that I had forgotten to do.

Monday, March 9, 2009

rage, rage against the dying of the light

One of the random benefits of living in the States is that Daylight Saving Time starts two weeks earlier and ends one week later than it does in Europe, so we get three more weeks of light lasting later in the evening. This makes an even bigger difference when you take into consideration the relative likelihood of sunny days in California versus Switzerland. 

Perhaps in Switzerland, where people wake up at ungodly hours to get to work by 9, 8, or even (gasp!) 7 in the morning (and where clouds often obscure any direct sunlight), it makes the morning commute darker for a while, but here, where people wake up a bit later (and the sun is more likely to shine cloud-free), it just means that the sun is around for more actual waking hours. Sweet.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I've lived in a few different places before moving to California -- Denver, Houston, Delaware, Cambridge, New York, and Zurich -- and they are all very different places, but one thing that they have in common is the way the seasons work. 

In the spring, the grass starts growing and the trees start budding and growing leaves. In the summer, everything is green. In the fall, things turn colors, then turn brown and die. In the winter, the world just waits for spring to come back again.

Not here. Here, the seasons are all backwards, inside out, and upside down. Confused. In the summer, the grass is brown and yellow, fried to a crisp in the dry sun, but the trees are green. In the fall, nothing changes. In the winter, some of the trees get with the program and shed their leaves, but the grass gets confused by the sudden appearance of rain and turns green, and the flowers come out. 

I'm not sure what will happen in spring. Probably something weird. Spring is probably when the marshmallow bushes grow Peeps, which are then picked by hippie elves and sent to drugstores around the country.

not so flexible

In an attempt to use up more of my 2008 flex dollars, I went to the eye doctor to get new contacts. I wear contacts maybe once or twice a month these days, but it's good to have them for scuba diving and for days when I want to wear sunglasses. We went through the whole rigmarole of eye tests, ordering various brands of lenses, trying them out, and having followup visits. We finally settled on a brand, and I went to pay for them.

Apparently, if your eyes are bad enough, and your vision plan is good enough, the checkups, fittings, and lenses are all free, because they are a medical necessity. So the good news is that I got free contacts. The bad news is that my eyes are really bad, and I still have to use up my flex account.

To make matters worse, I found out that the handy dandy debit card that they issue for the flex account, and which I've been using to avoid having to submit expense reports, has been drawing from my 2009 flex account. So a bunch of my hard-spent expenses haven't even gone towards my goal of using up my old flex dollars.

In a last fit of desperation, I bought a bunch of random things from, like super duper first aid kits for home and car, and will go get prescription sunglasses. And if that doesn't work, then I guess I was never meant to use those flex dollars.