Almost there...

Thursday, September 28, 2000

So there's something that's been bugging me for a really long time. Why is it that so often when you walk into a public women's restroom, you find that some chick has tinkled all over the seat? I haven't missed the toilet since I was six. What's going on? It seems to have gotten worse in recent years. Or maybe I'm just getting more sensitive to it. All I know is that women have no excuse. Women pee sitting down. There's no aiming involved like there is with men. Still, I don't know how often I walk in and find splatters all over the seat. Here I am at Fluor, a huge corporate campus in a building full of professionals. This isn’t some filthy gas station bathroom on I-5. There are seat covers provided for the paranoid (though research has shown they have absolutely no protective effect). Still, I walk into the first stall a few minutes ago and find the seat has been splattered all over. Okay, so assume that this person is really paranoid and they don’t want to actually sit on the toilet. They’re doing the hovering crouch. Even still, how do they get the pee everywhere? My pee comes out in a nice little stream. To get as much splatter as these folks do, they must be doing some sort of aerobics or something while peeing, which is pretty impressive in a small little stall like that with your pantyhose around your knees. So this person gets done, wipes, and then turns around to flush. As they flush, they’ve gotta see that they’ve completely wet down the seat. But do they wipe it off? No, apparently not. I just don’t get it. I remember when I first started noticing this in college. At that point I thought it was just a kooky Berkeley thing I didn’t understand. But it wasn’t long before I started noticing it elsewhere. Too weird. Is this a paranoia about disease? If so, people just need to get over it. You can’t catch AIDS from a toilet seat! In fact, the aforementioned research on paper toilet seat covers concluded that if the seat was dry, then no bacteria could get to you whether or not you used a seat cover. If the seat was wet, the seat cover wouldn’t protect you since the bacteria would go right through and still reach your skin, but that your skin was the real protector. It has special antibacterial properties to keep out all those things we touch every day – including toilet seats! Oy!

Tuesday, September 12, 2000

After two days in Cleveland, I've determined one startling fact: the Starbuck's revolution has not happened here yet. And for the first time in my life, that's a little disappointing. It's always seemed a little odd in the Bay Area that there's almost as many Starbucks as gas stations, but what wouldn't I give for a good consistent cup of coffee right about now! I've always been one of those coffee snobs who thinks that Starbucks isn't good enough, but when travelling, I don't usually find a Peet's or Seattle's Best in every city. But Starbucks is usually there. Like McDonalds, only offering my drug of choice.

I realized today as well that having my daily cup of coffee, even though I'm predominently a decaf drinker these days, is as much an addiction as those smokers standing outside the door. At our first break, I rushed out of the meeting room, down the elevator, and out into the street. I looked at all the smokers huddled in the doorway trying to stay out of the brisk wind so that their cigarettes didn't go out. I had my standard internal dialog - "how sad to be so addicted that you're willing to go to such lengths..." I turned to my right and saw nothing resembling coffee. I turned to my left and walked half a block and saw nothing on the horizon resembling good coffee. Then one of the smokers said, "what are you looking for?" Desperately I turned and said, "Coffee!" She said, "Are we out upstairs already?" I shifted gears mentally saying, "No, but that coffee up there is just so weak." I looked at her with her cigarette pinched between her index and middle finger. I suddenly realized I was no better than her. Perhaps worse since my addiction is still blithely accepted (encouraged?) by society. The only difference was that she had been kicked to the curb of social acceptability. She said, "Well, I think if you go back in the building and down the escalator just past the elevators, there's a little shopping mall down there that probably has coffee." My personal revelatory moment concluded, I broke for the promised coffee and found a small mom and pop coffee bar specializing in flavored coffees(bleh!). In under a minute I had a double cappucino in a styrofoam cup warming my hands and soothing my heart. Coffee crisis averted.

It still brings me back to my basic question: why is Starbucks so omni-present in the Bay Area where the need for good coffee is already being supplied, when there are perfectly wide open markets available elsewhere? At my old office in San Jose, there was a Starbucks on the Plaza, and then another on the next block that you could see from the windows of the first. And there was another two further blocks away. And there happened to be another older mom and pop shop on the plaza to boot. It was getting just plain silly, although the silliest I've seen to date was the Starbucks across the street from the Starbucks, an odd side effect of both their agressive competitive plan and their acquisition of Pasqua. It just seems odd that they're so willing to overclutter one area while ignoring others. Even McDonalds isn't nearly as thick as Starbucks is in some areas. And Starbucks seems that it wants to become the McDonalds of the coffee industry including a consistent product even if it isn't the very best. And when I'm travelling like this, that's exactly what I want: food (or beverages) I can trust to be acceptable. The only thing I really fault Starbucks for is for doing evil things like putting in a location across the street from Peet's Coffee and thereby trying to steal their business. If there's good coffee there first, just leave it be! There's obviously plenty of open markets left.

Thursday, September 07, 2000

With a new job at Intellinex as a Designer/Developer, I've been travelling a lot lately. Since all of my normal activities tend to be based in the SF Bay Area, and since I'm in Aliso Viejo (behind the Orange Curtain), I've been missing out on all of my normal activities. Still, I need something to keep myself sane in my earthy-crunchy, tree-huggin', Berkeley girl kind of way. Trapped in a corporate office for 12 hours a day, I've got to make this laptop my friend rather than my enemy. I've been reading Kevin's weblog and realizing that it's a great way to write down all those weird little things you think of from time to time. So why not copy the cool things my friends are doing (other than by doing so, it somehow seems to fundamentally deflate the coolness of it)?