Thursday, November 30, 2006

I crack myself up

Last night I made up a joke and I just have to share.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Therapist who?
I'll answer that in a minute, but first, I'm curious about why you ask.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New look--same great taste!

I've finally migrated over to the new beta version of Blogger.

I think "beta Blogger" sounds an awful lot like a class of anti-hypertension medications.

I also think this new version makes it a lot easier for you, dear reader, to overdose on public transit stories.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stop right there, cowboy

Ground has been broken for a memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr. I think this is fantastic, and long overdue.

US Presidents number 42 and 43 were there:

photo by Jason Reed, Reuters
But just why is Bill gripping George W.'s wrist so tightly?

Does George W.'s left hand know what his right is doing?

Perhaps the most important question of all: Do the rest of us want to know?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Therapist Clock

No one warned me that, in the course of my training in psychology, I would develop a Therapist Clock.

I learned early on how to check my watch as subtly as possible (the "itchy wrist" is always a good technique), where to place the furniture for maximum clock visibility (you need at least two clocks, one across from each chair), and how to structure the last 10 minutes of the session in order to segue smoothly into "We need to wrap up for today" at 3 minutes before the end.

But I never learned about the Therapist Clock until it was too late.

The Therapist Clock is an internal timekeeping device that divides up one's waking experiences into 50-minute chunks. The Therapist Clock also contains subdivisions, at 10, 15, 25, and 35 minutes. The Therapist Clock is capable of running longer than 50 minutes, but it is not always accurate in its second cycle (indeed, it is frequently 10 minutes behind).

The Therapist Clock cannot be shut off, and it does not care what you are doing. The Therapist Clock is useful in many situations, such as waiting for the bus, making pasta, or gauging how much longer the washing machine will be running. The Therapist Clock is also frighteningly good at predicting plot twists during Law & Order, which, for the curious, generally fall at or around :15, :38, and :50.

But the Therapist Clock is very much a handicap with respect to other activities, such as sitting through a slow movie, talking on the phone ("hey, it's so good to hear your voice, but our time's up for today"), or *ahem* intimate relations.

The Therapist Clock frequently malfunctions on airplanes, but not on trains, buses, or cars. It never malfunctions in the waiting room at the doctor's, nor in the emergency room (provided, of course, that one is fully conscious). The Therapist Clock also never malfunctions during one's own therapy. I find it absolutely hilarious when both of us start to fidget after 45 minutes.

Yesterday morning I went to Target, in search of some random items. I entered the store at about 10:10. When I left the store, I estimated I'd been shopping for about forty minutes. I'd forgotten my watch--I knew what time I'd gone in from the car radio--so to check my estimate, I pulled out my trusty cell phone (which, for the curious, has a bitchin' Law & Order ringtone).

And lo! It was 10:47.

Quite pleased with myself, I called Mrs. Gerbil to brag.

"You scare me," she said.

I think I've been working on this post for about 50 minutes now... oho! Indeed I have. Well, we need to wrap up for today. See you next time. Bye bye, take care.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Public transit story #14: Parallel postulate

Last Wednesday, the first of the month, our rent was due. We pay rent directly into our landlords' bank account, as we use the same bank and it's a lot easier than mailing a check several days in advance. This month it was my turn to go stand in line at the bank. Whoopie.

So I boarded the #88 and figured I would have about three minutes' cushion for my transfer to the #51. Oh, how wrong I was; but if I'd been correct, you wouldn't be reading this, now, would you?

There was this very confused woman on the bus who had evidently been trying to figure out her stop for most of the ride. She kept insisting that she needed to get off at Acton Street (or, as she spelled it, "A-C-T-I-O-N Street"). The driver and the rest of the passengers kept telling her, "This bus runs along Sacramento Street. Acton's the next street over. They don't intersect."

"But I have to get off at Acton!" she repeated.

"No, you have to get off at a cross-street. You're going to Acton and what?" we all asked.

"A-C-T-I-O-N! I can see the #88 from there and so I know this bus stops there!"

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Finally I said, "Maybe you want to get off at Addison?"

"Or Allston?" suggested another passenger.

"Addison? Yes, that's it. No! I want Acton. Maybe this is my stop coming up." The bus driver pulled over to the stop, which was Channing. "No," said the woman, "I think it's the next one."

So we stopped at Bancroft. We stayed there a while, so that she could debate with herself whether this was her stop. Finally: "No, this isn't it. It's the next one."

The next one was Addison. As the driver was pulling over, the woman said, "Oh, no, it was the last one! Now I have to walk all the way back there?"

"I can't turn this bus around for you," said the driver. "You either get off here or you get off somewhere else down the line."

"Where's Acton then?" she demanded. We all pointed to the left. She grumbled off the bus.

"I don't know what her deal was," said the driver as she pulled away from the stop. "Doesn't she understand you can't get off at Acton and Sacramento when they don't intersect?"

With all that delay, I missed my connection. The #51 pulled up just before we did, and even though the driver tapped several times on her horn (secret code for "hey! transferring passengers!") and I ran as fast as my little legs could carry me toward the bus, the #51 (which had neither discharged nor picked up anyone else) closed its doors while I was still a few feet away. Yes, I knew another would come in 7 minutes, but it was the principle of the thing:

AC Transit might break some rules now and then, but one thing it can't violate is Euclidean geometry.

(And speaking of lines, the one at the bank did indeed suck.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Public transit story #13: Of age

While waiting for the #40L yesterday, I noticed a small boy watching me with intense interest. This little fellow could not have been more than 9 years old. He was there with his older brother, who looked about 13 or 14, and a woman who was probably their mother but may have been grandma instead. You can never tell.

After a long period of observation, the boy came up to me and said, "How old are you?" (Brazen little dude!)

"How old do you think I am?" I said. I would never reply this way to an adult, but the answers I get from kids are hysterical.

"Thirteen," said the kid.

"Multiply that by two," I said.

"Huh?" the kid replied.

"Times two?" I tried. The kid looked at me blankly. "Thirteen times two?" I said. Another blank look. "Do you know your times tables?" I asked.

"Nooooooo," said the kid, with a big silly grin.

"Well," I said, "thirteen times two is twenty-six. I am 26 years old, but I'll be 27 in two months. How old are you?"

"I'm thirteen!" he crowed.

This was obviously not true, but I thought I'd play along. "Then I'm twice as old as you are."

"Naw, I'm not thirteen," he said, "Actually I'm twelve."

Also a lie, but this was all very cute. "When will you be thirteen?"


"Oh, you're halfway there then!"

"Yeah, my birthday is next week and I'm gonna go out to dinner and have a big ol' party all over town!"

Then his (grand?)mother chimed in: "You're not thirteen, you're eight! Stop being stupid."

"No, I'm thirteen!"

"You'll be thirteen in five years," she said.

"No, I'll be sixteen in five years!" he replied. Then, to me: "You go to school still, or do you work?"

"I'm all done with school. I work."

"You work in West Oakland?"

"I work right around the corner from here."

"You work at the doctor's office?"

The outpatient medical offices for Children's Hospital of Oakland are indeed right around the corner from the bus stop--and directly across the street from the day hospital where I work. Figuring it would be a losing battle to try to explain partial hospitalization to an eight-year-old, I said, "Yeah, I do work at a doctor's office."

"WOW," he said, his eyes wide with admiration. Then he announced that he was going to go slip and fall on his butt in a puddle of rainwater.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hot Live Local Singles Strike Again!

Racy Wrong Numbers: Not just a San Francisco treat!

The mayor of Edmond, Oklahoma, handed out tens of thousands of flyers upon which was a rather unfortunate typo. The flyers, prepared by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, were intended to discourage underage drinking but accidentally advertised a phone sex line.

I am not making this up.