ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Holidays Archive



November 2008



Huh. It Really Is Who You Know

Written by , Posted in Random

My dear friend Herman came into our staff meeting this morning and didn’t look like he was having a good day. I thought maybe it had a bit to do with preparing to host us orphans tomorrow, but Herman doesn’t really stress out about things like that. I was sort of right, and sort of wrong. He wasn’t so much stressed about having us over; he was stressed about not being able to have us over. Let me share the story (it has a happy ending).

Herman and Kathleen moved into their apartment over a year ago. They each moved from apartments where their respective landlords paid for the natural gas. When they moved into their current apartment, they were told only that they had to turn on the electric, not the gas. And the gas was on, so they didn’t think to double check that they didn’t have to put the gas in their name or anything like that. Given their past experience – and the fact that the landlord made a point to say it was the electric they needed to turn on (but NOT gas) – this makes sense to me.

So National Grid didn’t have their information. They claimed they sent notices over the last year, and maybe that’s true. My guess is the person who lived in the apartment before Herman and Kathleen had his or her mail forwarded, and when he or she saw letters from National Grid threw them out without opening them. National Grid ALSO claimed they sent letters addressed to “occupant.” Doubtful. Herman and Kathleen are two of the most conscientious people I’ve ever met – if they got even one notice, they would have addressed the issue immediately.

Want to know how they found out about the issue? National Grid decided to shut off their gas. 

The day before Thanksgiving. 


Seriously. EVEN IF National Grid sent the notices as often as they claim (which I doubt), how can they shut off someone’s gas without any REAL notice? I hold the landlord and the super mostly responsible – the landlord should have told Herman and Kathleen that they were responsible for setting up the gas, and the super could have been a decent person and called Herman and Kathleen and said hey – National Grid is shutting off your gas. But that didn’t happen.

Why was this such a big deal? Oh, because National Grid said that they wouldn’t come back to turn it on until December 5.

I find this to be an absurdly poor corporate practice. It’s Thanksgiving – it’s not even a religious holiday. It’s one of the three or four holidays damn near EVERYONE in this country celebrates. And, unlike, say New Year’s Eve, it completely and totally involves COOKING. Why would they have a policy of shutting off gas (without giving notice), and of doing it right before a holiday? I just don’t get it. If you must shut it off – do it the day AFTER the holiday.

I spent some time on the phone as Kathleen trying to see what could be done to get the gas back on. Nothing. No movement. It was kind of entertaining – I did keep letting the person know that I knew they weren’t responsible, but I also let them know how amazed I was at how poorly this was handled.

My apartment is too small to house the ten people, and my oven wouldn’t fit the turkey, so for awhile we were trying to figure out where we could celebrate. Ben and Bonnie did say they could open their home – but they are all the way out in Bushwick, which would have been a tough trek with food from Park Slope / Prospect Heights.

But then – someone we know knows someone at National Grid. So Herman called. And that person? Took it on. Was able to talk to someone else who talked to someone else. And guess what? As of 6:30 PM, the gas was back on. Thanksgiving is on.

Most everyone could have handled this better. Herman and Kathleen probably should have double checked on the gas when they moved in – but given their history, why would they? I’ve never had to pay for garbage collection, so it wouldn’t occur to me to make sure I was paying that bill or that it was in my name.

The landlord DEFINITELY should have told Herman and Kathleen that they needed to set up the gas in their name. That’s really the only way they would find that information out. And the Super should have given Herman and Kathleen a heads up that the gas was being turned off – the Super is well aware that people are living in that unit, and he’s even met them. Is it his responsibility legally? No. But as a compassionate person I would say yeah, he should have done something.

And finally, National Grid. You REALLY should re-evaluate your policy about shutting off gas. Waiting OVER A YEAR and THEN turning it off the day before Thanksgiving, and not having anyone available to turn the gas back on in case (as in this situation), it should not have been turned off in the first place? SO NOT COOL.

In the grand scheme of things – tonight as I type this I’m watching the horror going on in Mumbai – this is not a big deal. Not even a small deal. But it was a completely unnecessary stress, and I think we could all do without those this time of year.



November 2008



A Busy End to the Fall

Written by , Posted in Adventures



That’s me as Sarah Palin on Halloween. I figured out how to do my hair like her’s (when she does the half-up thing with just bobby pins). I hope she loses for many reasons, but one is so that I can start doing my hair like that. Seriously, it’s so easy!

Monday night the Trouble Clef kids (name still pending) got together for an abbreviated jam session. It was really fun. We think we’ve got a set list, and now just need to really work on the songs.

Tuesday night I had an Alumni association meeting. Heh. Oh, so, so much better than when this guy who took himself WAY TOO SERIOUSLY was in charge. It’s almost – almost – fun.

Wednesday Herman and I saw “Saw V.” Still gory, but not as creepy as the past ones, I’d say. We’ll see how Saw VI is (they’re casting for it now, I believe in a reality show).

Thursday I attended a really interesting talk about ETA and the Basque country, and how they compare to the IRA and Northern Ireland. I’m not so familiar with that area of the world, but I loves me some northern Irish, so I plan to read the book eventually. I like these academic talks.

Finally, Halloween. I thoroughly enjoyed talking in Palin’s accent all night. There were two other Palins at the party, and all were a little different. Perfect.

But the best part? Ben is back from Africa! It was really great to see him. A surprise for his wife, for sure – he’s back almost a month early.

Happy November!



December 2007



Merry Christmas!

Written by , Posted in Adventures

I had an absolutely lovely Christmas. I went home to visit the family on Thursday evening. I was greeted at San Jose airport, which is undergoing construction. I’d packed my coat before checking my luggage. In addition to the obvious ‘what if they lose your luggage’ question, there was an unanticipated hiccup: San Jose’s airport is under construction, so they don’t really have gates in the traditional sense. Instead, they just park on the tarmac and you walk down past a few other parked planes and through this big tunnel to get to the terminal. It would have been cool, were it not, y’know, cold.  

Pup pup was under the weather – she scratched her cornea – so she had to wear what they call an Elizabethan Collar. She’s already blind in one eye and kind of deaf, so this added another level of confusion to her challenged navigational skills. Meaning she kept banging into the wall. Which is sad and funny, but also a bit obnoxious when it’s 1 AM (4 AM according to my body) and one just wants to go to sleep. Even better – she’s got some issues with doing her business in the house, and the collar made it worse. She’d do her business, and then walk through it. Good times.

Saturday Stephanie and I went into San Francisco to look at Union Square and have a drink. She then met up with a friend in North Beach and I went to Balboa Park to meet up with Laura and Sean, who are expecting a kid in a mere two weeks but still managed to whip up an awesome meal for a small holiday dinner party. She’s the first of my friends to have a kid. They’ll be good parents – very mellow, deal-with-it-as-it-comes kind of people.  

Sunday we hit the 49ers game, and we actually won! Well, I mean, the team won, but it was also a victory for the fans, who stuck around in a painfully bad season.

Monday night was our traditional Christmas Eve with the Decker family. We’ve been doing it since the early 90s, and we alternate homes. It’s a fun evening, and a good time to get caught up with people who I’ve known for years. It was almost a less than fun evening, as we started to smell gas in the afternoon, and had to have the utility come out and check on it. My professional training came in super handy. “Don’t touch anything.” They didn’t listen, but at least I knew what to do! Anyway, we were lucky the guy knew what he was doing, because the other option was they would have to shut off our heater until a repair person could come out. Which would have been a bit cold.

Christmas day was just great – the parents and sister were VERY generous, and clearly know me well.  The evening was a bit bizarre – watching the 5 PM news, and then a cut-in on Breaking News of a tiger loose at the zoo. Odd.



November 2007



It’s been so long!

Written by , Posted in Adventures

I’ve had a great month. I took a very quick trip to visit a friend, and had a relaxing time. I’m enjoying the fall in NYC – I love the colors! I spent an hour or so wandering the City today, mostly in Central Park, and it was just lovely. The sun set, and it was that time of night before dark, where everything just kind of glows. The leaves are amazing right now. It’s chilly, but I have such a warm coat that I wasn’t even noticing it.

Thanksgiving is coming up! Another orphan’s holiday over at Herman’s. Last year was so much fun – lots of mulled wine and yummy dishes. The first Thanksgiving I spent away from my folks was really hard, because (and this may seem silly) the food was all different! I’m sure that was just how I was channeling missing my family, but at the time it was all about the lack of Stove Top Stuffing (what, we are a simple people). Since I was probably 12 or 13 Thanksgiving was just me, my folks and my sister, and it was the same every year. Small, but with things we all love. But now I’ve gotten to the point where I think its fun to bring something I’m used to, and then sharing what other people bring. It really is a communal experience. And without the family drama! That was never actually issue with us (at least once it was just the four of us), but I know a lot of people stress about this because of all the other issues related to it. My folks will go spend it with their good friends, my sister will have I think a similar orphan’s day (or go to Houston to visit her friend).  

We’re also hoping to have a scaled-down Christmas. While I love getting gifts (it’s fun!), there is very little I actually need. I think we’re each agreeing one gift per person. Plus stockings (I think). We can just have fun and enjoy the tree, and each other, and maybe convince my dad to play a few games.

I love this time of year!!!