Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
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or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Friday, January 23, 2004  
In sad honor of the lost (but now found!) contact with Spirit and the landing of Opportunity tomorrow.

The Bloody Beagle.

Beagle Logo

Unfortunate but true. The reason for the failure of the 200 million Pound mars project has, in fact, far less to do with cutting edge space technology and more to do with the simple but twice overlooked reason which is simply this: The godwaful name. " The Beagle"

I say "twice" because this not the first time the name has been used. The first was a similar project with equally lackluster results. Notwithstanding a huge spectacular explosion over the pacific ocean in which it blew up, along with the rocket, into a million and one little golden meteorites. "Which is as near as that puppy is going to get to space" I remember thinking at the time.

Not since the Buck Rogers comic era of space exploration has a cheesy, cottage industry, soft and cuddly, cozy "here Rover, fetch my pipe and slippers from Mars boy" name been used for a spacecraft. And I know what your thinking. Beagle equals retriever of your newspaper/socks/shotgunned dead bird, and is hence symbolic. Yes, I know that already. I also know Beagles are frequently getting lost as well. Which is somewhat prophetic.

But Think about it? First we had Sputnik, which is probably Russian for "big bad ass motha fucker of a space rocket" anyway. Then we have Titan, Apollo, Zeus, - Rambo! (or am I making these up now?) anyway, all tough, butch can-do names for space rockets for the 21st century. Although there was of course the Lunar rover (bark!)which probably set in the rot heap even if not strictly speaking, canine related. However, if the best mission control could come up with is to name a spacecraft after a dog(!), then a) you're in the wrong business or b) or if you must go to the dogs, call it something butch like the Rabid Rottweiller or the Marauding Mars Mongrel.

Or even Laika, perhaps, if you insist on giving it a cuddle up image, in honor of that poor dog the Russians hurled into space without so much as a chew toy or Liv-A-Snap. At least that would have some galactic relevance.

Anything in fact but a little spotted doggie with big soulful eyes and short legs - "a bloody Beagle!" Mission control are you reading me? "Us earthlings like our spacecraft names to be butch and can-do."

I know, I know. It was named after Darwin's boat. An homage and all that. (roll of eyes) Let us not forget a few oft overlooked Darwin factoids: He married his first cousin and authored a tome called "The Formation of Vegetable Mold through the Action of Worms." Doesn't exactly conjure up images of starry skies or the Final Frontier, now does it?

But let's take a Darwinian approach for a moment. A Beagle is about as far up the stellar exploration evolutionary scale as the Beagle's marketing department head is up theirs. Lets not even go there! (something they might have done well to do when someone suggested going to Mars in the first place "lets not go there") But really, given this approach you may have as well stuck a Geoffrey Giraffe logo on the Umbrella. (sorry, I mean spacecraft) Well? Why not? it's naturally a lot nearer Mars than a Beagle anyhow and about as relevant.

In some ways this whole Beagle name thing makes sense. In the vein of cheapskate nature of this whole project I alluded to before, correct me if I'm wrong but I think you'll find the major sponsor of this project just happens to be Alpo - makers of Pedigree chum dog food! Oh!, it's becoming so clear now. . .I just hope they clear up all the crap after them that's all I can say. Is it equipped with a Pooper Scooper and a dispenser with those little Doggie Dropping bags?

I can picture them at Mission control (a.k.a. the Burger King non smoking section on the north circular road near Watford shopping mall) Someone said, "Hey, what shall we call it?"

"What about 'life explorer?"

"planet searcher?"

"Extra Terrestrial Butt Kicker!"

But no.

"I've got it!" someone said, "Lets call it the .... 'Mars Ferret,' - yes the Ferret, - that's it!"

Everyone in mission control nodded in complete agreement like this was THE name they'd all been searching for. And if it wasn't for the little old lady walking past at that precise point with her dog, coincidentally also a Beagle, and sarcastically suggesting that Beagle might be a more apt name for it, rolling her eyes in disgust, we might never have the name we have now.

Joking aside, I believe calling it the "Beagle" created a culture of homespun cheapskateness. After all, it wouldn't even do anything when it got there. No death ray gun, no big butch chunky tires. No flashing lights or wailing sirens to put the fear of Christ in to those Ruskies, sorry erm I mean Martians. (was back in the cold war for a minute there!)

What school kid was ever going to be inspired by an amorphous blob, the size of an umbrella, indeed being mistaken for an umbrella by the Rovers, just sitting there, watching the mars Spirit and Opportunity doing handbrake turns in the Martian soil, kicking Martian dirt in its face - and called I say again: "a bloody Beagle."

Somehow, I can't see thousands of beagle posters on little boys bedrooms walls all over the world with a name or logo like that can you?

Case in point: The main marketing angle of the Beagle appears to be run by the Open University. Not exactly Madison Avenue. It doesn't appear they've even consulted the business, marketing or art departments. (By the way, they've got Beagle 2 gear, t-shirts, pens, one of those Eminem-type hats...lots of goodies. Probably all going on sale at massive discount soon.) Compare and contrast this to the gear available

The logo. Oh. The logo. That'll impress the Martians! As Simon Cowell would say: "That is the quite possibly the worst "professional" logo I've ever seen" If this were a Boy Scout toy rocket competition it might get the sympathy vote and scrape through, but this looks like a reject from Falsh Gordon, The Early Years. Given this sort of quality I'm surprised the Beagle cleared the Burger King parking Lot let alone made it Mars.

I am certain beyond doubt it was laid out on 1/4" grid paper. Probably over chocolate shakes and double cheeseburgers late one night at the Burger King/mission control.

From Beagle's Press Room Behold: Glorious Entry

I can hear it now. Down at the Burger King/mission control. "Okay, tonight we've got to talk marketing. We need a spaceship logo, can anyone draw? Hey!, Anyone remember the band Boston? They had a cool picture can we use that?"

"Oh man, I'm way ahead of you! That cover is awesome! I've got a poster of it in my basement!"

"Totally. I've been waiting all these years to resurrect that art."

Separated at Birth?

Sheesh. Look at it. Even the Beagle itself looks like the craft on the Boston LP cover. I bet these guys used it for their engineering drawings. I mean, those CAD programs are expensive and difficult to use. Why not just use some 70's stoned artist's airbrush art as the basis for the design of the whole thing?

Anyway, the damage is done. "The Beagle has(n't) landed" The puppy has gone missing!

And it seemed to be going so well as well.

Until reaching Mars. I get the distinct impression they were so over the moon (no pun intended) at actually reaching Mars that quite what they were to do with the probe when they got there got lost in the detail.

I strongly suspect having either a) failed to design a plan to guide it gracefully to the Martian surface, or b) being asked to leave to by the night cleaning staff at Burger King! They then just 'lobbed' it into great Martian void and hoped it would somehow land safely on the surface of mars from a velocity of 12,000 miles per hour.

And quite frankly, alll the looks of anguished concern we saw on TV were actually well rehearsed fakes, mock anguish, practiced for the weeks prior to the landing date in the mirrors in the Burger King/mission control bathroom.

"How's this guys?" one engineer shows a look of troubled concern.

"Hey, that's great!"

"How do I do that?" asks another.

Feeling the pressure, though, for a convincing performance from the TV crews outside mission control/the bathroom. The crew chief decides, "I've been giving it a lot of thought, and it finally occurred to me what we need here is the feeling we had when that rumor surfaced about the new Star Wars movie being released the same day as the annual Star Trek Convention."

Knowing murmurs of discontent from around the bathroom.

"Yeah man, that WAS a dark day. Good emoting, man! Guys, GO practice!"

But really. Where were all the sensors tracking it AS it descended in to the Martian atmosphere? After all, apparently this was always going to be the hard bit. As it stands now we've no idea what happened to it. Just a few sensors, bit's of wet string, anything! back to the mother ship (which I've called the Golden Retriever by the way!) would have solved the mystery.

Cruel, I know, bu what if the first shots sent to NASA from Spirit were actually of a the crashed and burned beagle?

You know the bloody Beagle's jinxed. Everything it's come into contact with has either blown up or messed up. It wouldn't surprise me to find that in years to come when they finally find signs of Martian life, they'll also discover a great big lump of bloody beagle having landed smack bang on the last remaining Martians head!

My new concern since NASA has lost contact with Spirit, is that Spirit found the bloody Beagle lying ungainly arse over tit somewhere in a ditch. Spirit managed to altruistically right one of Beagle's antennae and after springing into life for the first time since it was launched, the bloody Beagle then zoomed at full speed out of control like an over excited puppy trying to lick your face and promptly smashed straight into the American billion dollar craft, rendering it completely useless. What's worse and highly embarrassing for the crew back at Burger King is that the Beagle's cameras will record everything in glorious technicolor. Working perfectly for once to record forever, the final act before it self destructs along with the hopes of the world. One can only imagine the looks of stunned disbelief in Houston mission control ?

I personally believe its not on mars anyway. In ten years on some beach in Florida somewhere, they'll be an almighty splash and one of the great mysteries will have been solved.

11:44 AM

Thursday, January 22, 2004  
"Well, I Woke Up This Morning, That's Something..."
But then again, maybe I've lived too long. I've heard about these but thought they were an urban legend. I have never actually seen them. Not that I would have had occasion to see them.

But then I haven't had reason to frequent a currency exchange.

Until last night.

And there, among all vending machines selling everything from those two naked girl silhouette decals to pre-paid phone cards (which can be used to phone Mexico!) was the bubble gum type machine selling Homies.

Ah. The currency exchange.

For the uninitiated, they do not actually exchange currency at currency exchanges in Chicago and much of New York City. I learned this the hard way when I first moved to Chicago.

Trillian: "Good afternoon, I'd like to exchange these Pound notes and Francs for dollars, please. What are the rates today?" (big courteous smile of thanks and inquisitiveness, looking around for a digital rate board. (This was pre-Euro))

Mean Lady Behind Really Thick Bulletproof Glass Who Has To Speak Through A Microphone: "Prin-cess would like to exchange some pounds and francs, would she? Hey LaShauna, she think we the American Express. Who you think I is, Prin-cess? The Queen Mum?" (She with a big affected British accent.)

Trillian: "Erm, well, I, no, I just thought, you know, currency exchange, I mean I just assumed..."

Mean Lady Behind Really Thick Bulletproof Glass Who Has To Speak Through A Microphone: "You want to pay your utilities, wire money, get a City Sticker for your car or buy a money order, we can fix you up. Anything else you need a bank, Prin-cess."

Trillian: Slowly getting that in fact the currency exchange does not exchange currency and getting more than a little annoyed at the Princess references, "You don't exchange currency at a currency exchange?"

Mean Lady Behind Really Thick Bulletproof Glass Who Has To Speak Through A Microphone: "Thassright, Princess. Your fancy cash ain't worth anything here. Just US greenbacks."

Trillian: At the same time intrigued, humored and repulsed at the B-movie slang, "Right. Okay then. Thank you. Have a nice day."

Mean Lady Behind Really Thick Bulletproof Glass Who Has To Speak Through A Microphone: Mocking Trillian, "Tally-ho dahling. Do have a nice day, won't you?!"

All the Other Mean Ladies Behind Really Thick Bulletproof Glass Speaking Through Microphones: Busting out laughing and affecting those British accents Americans always over accentuate when they are mocking the British. (No one in England talks that way, so why, why, why! has this accent been perpetuated and used by everyone, every race, culture and creed when mocking the British or snobs or British snobs?) "Jolly good of you to stop in love, do have a nice day." More laughing.

Years passed.

I never, ever went into another currency exchange. Ever.

Until it was 10:30 at night and I had to get a money order because the guy at the gas company wouldn't take a credit card (machine thingy was broken), personal check or cash. Money order only. So a fun trip to the currency exchange. At night. In freezing cold. With every dreg of humanity in a five mile radius. As I stood waiting, nothing to amuse myself except the vending area conveniently located along the wall where the line forms. After my initial, "They are real! They do exist!" reaction, I couldn't help but notice they resembled many of the people waiting in line. (Insert interesting sociological research, statistics and comment here.) And check out the Diva Homie collection. Metallic gold. Bling bling for the little kiddies in the hood.

And why was I procuring a money order to pay the gas company guy at 10:30 on a Wednesday night?

Because I called the gas company again, too afraid to go to sleep in my apartment without having "someone come out" to do a Geiger count (or whatever that is) in my apartment. And since they were there earlier in the day and "cleared it" with the landlord, I would have to pay for another inspection.

And because frankly I wasn't buying the "it's just a cracked thermocoupler" story. I know a thing or two about thermocouplers. Well. Enough to know there was more to the problem than a cracked thermocoupler.

My apartment passed, though not with the resounding flying colors I would have liked. My $75 inspection and assessment did not leave me instilled with confidence that all is well with the toxicity of my apartment. But since I woke up this morning, I have to assume the levels are in fact, as the inspector last night said, "Not dangerous to human health." (but in the high end of the normal range.)

Now I know what people mean when you ask them how they are and they reply with, "Just glad to be alive." I always thought those people were just high on life or God or narcotic substances or very sarcastic. Now I know they truly are "just glad to be alive."

Who knew the act of waking up in the morning could be viewed as such an accomplishment? Sort of sets the tone for the rest of the day. I mean, hey, I didn't die of asphyxiation last night! Wow! Atta girl! You can do anything! Get out there and set the world on fire, Alive and Breathing Girl!

9:47 AM

Wednesday, January 21, 2004  
The Chicago Apartment

Six contestants try to live a normal life in a vintage apartment building run by a landlord who started small and with a bit of luck and timing is now the head of a rather large vintage real estate conglomerate and is in way over his head.

It's January. In Chicago. The air temperature is 4°F, (-15.56° C). The wind chill is, well, it's anywhere from -20°F (-28.88°C) to -35° F (-37.22°C).

Tenant One arrives home from work an hears the hissing of the radiators. We see a large apartment oozing vintage charm, high ceilings, beautiful wood floors and trim work, interesting details...She explains to the viewing audience that because it is after 6:30, this will probably be the last time the heat will "come on" until 6 AM the next morning.

Cut to the Landlord. "The City of Chicago says I only have to provide between the hours of 7:30 and 8:30 AM those units only have to be 65°F (18.33°C), from 8:30 AM - 10:00 PM it's only gotta be 68°F (20°C) and between the hours of 10:30 PM and 7:30 AM it's only gotta be 63°F (17.22°C). The furnace is on a timer. It's all legit and proper. Yeah, 63°F isn't very warm, especially when it's so cold outside, but why should I do anymore than I'm required? I own and manage a lot of buildings. It ain't cheap, you know."

Tenant One takes the viewers to her bedroom where she takes a thermometer from a bookshelf. "My thermometer reads 54°F (12.78°C). Clearly in violation of the City's heating code, but even though I've repeatedly told my landlord about this he just tells me about how the furnace is all timed and regulated within the city's code, and it's an old building and drafty...he can't be expected to regulate an even temperature in every apartment in the building with all those variables. I've called the city, they came out once, checked the temperature in a lot of different apartments in the building and said several of us were far below the mandated temperatures and that they would issue a citation to the landlord. None of us ever heard another word, none of our calls to the city are answered and the cold temperatures persist. That was two years ago. It's only when it's very cold and the wind is blowing from the South or West. I prefer it on the cold side anyway, but there are times, like tonight, that it's beyond bearable."

Tenant One proceeds to her kitchen. As she walks through the apartment she sniffs the air. "Do you smell gas?" She continues onto the kitchen, feeds the cat, still sniffing. "I definitely smell gas." She checks the pilot light on the oven, sniffs around the oven. "No, not coming from
there." She walks back through the apartment, sniffing all the while.

The smell is stronger in some areas.

"It's faint, but it's there, I know I smell it. What can it be?"

Tenant One goes to her computer. "I'll see what I can find out online. At least get the gas company phone number." A few minutes pass. Tenant One coughs. Several times. "I hope I'm not coming down with that bug everyone at work has, I do not need THAT now. But I'm getting a
headache...darn it, I can't be sick right now." We see Tenant One blinking her eyes and itching them. "Wait a minute. I felt fine before I came home. I smell gas, I'm coughing, I have a headache, my eyes are burning...YIKES!!!! WHAT'S THAT NUMBER????"

She finds the gas company's "If You Smell Gas" hotline number and calls.

She is shocked her call is answered by a live person on the second ring.

"Hi, I just got home from work and I smell gas in my apartment."

"I checked, it's lit and seems fine. (cough cough) The smell is stronger in other areas of the apartment, away from the kitchen."

"Funny you should ask, I've been home about 45 minutes and I suddenly have a headache."

"Um, I'm not sure. There are seven units in my entry, probably around 40 units in the building total."

"I have no idea, my guess is there are several boilers for the whole building."

"I'm not sure, I will go across the hall and find out if anyone else smells gas."

(gives address)

"Okay, thanks, I really appreciate it."

"I see. Okay. I'll wait in the lobby for the crew."

Tenant One addresses the viewing audience, "They're sending a crew to check the apartment. They told me to 'evacuate' the apartment and for safe measure, see if anyone else in my entry is home, if they smell gas in their apartments and alert them to the possible danger."

Tenant One sighs and shakes her head. "It's always something. Always. My cat is going to have a fit about this...." She goes to a closet and produces what appears to be a gym bag. Upon closer inspection Tenant One shows the home viewing audience that it is in fact a very soft, cushy, comfy cat carrier. "The latest in animal transportation technology. I'd love to crawl in there, but watch and learn the advanced and highly attuned perception skills of the feline. (she calls her cat. A behemoth feline playfully trots into the hall.) "Okay, we've got to get out of the apartment, so you've got to get in here." Tenant One sets the bag on the floor. The cat runs into the bedroom.

"Come on (cough cough) we don't have time to play these games. This could be life and death here. We're not going to the vet, okay?" No response. Tenant One puts on gloves and mittens, goes into the bedroom with the pet bag and begins reaching under the bed. We hear wild meows as Tenant One soothingly talks to the frightened feline.

Tenant One deftly pulls the giant cat and stuffs him into the pet bag in one swift move. "You've got to be fast. He hates it, I hate it, but it's got to be done." The cat can be heard meowing and growling from the bag.

Tenant One dons her coat, hat and scarf and leaves the apartment. She knocks on the door across the hall. "Who is it?" she hears her neighbor ask from behind the door.

"It's me, Tenant One."

Door opens to reveal Tenant Two, wearing several layers of clothes. And gloves.

"Cold apartment?

"Oh yeah. Really bad tonight."

"Do you smell gas in your apartment?"

"I just got home, and yeah, I thought I noticed it, I thought maybe my pilot light was out. Is there a problem?"

"Might be, my apartment smells really strongly in some places, I was suddenly hit with a headache and coughing, so I called the gas company. They're sending a crew and told me to get out of the apartment." (cat meows, punctuating the point.) "I'm going to wait in the lobby for them."

"Hang on a minute, let me grab my coat," Tenant Two says.

The two head down their stairs and knock on the two doors below them. No answer.

They go down the next floor, knock on the first door. They hear, "Yeah, who is it?" from a male voice. Tenant Two rolls her eyes and whispers, "This guy is such a jerk, have you met him?"

"It's your neighbors. From upstairs?" Tenant One offers. Cat meows.

She then whispers in reply, "No, I don't know anyone in here anymore except you. Is he the kind of heavyset kid?"

"Fat. Yes."

The door opens to reveal Tenant Three, a large young male also in layers of clothing.

"Hi, I'm Tenant One, I live on the top floor," taking off her glove and mitten and offering her hand in greeting. Tenant Three limply shakes her hand and nods a terse greeting to Tenant Two. Tenant One continues, "Do you smell gas in your apartment?"

"Yeah, I've been trying to get through to the gas company for about two hours. They keep putting me on hold."

"I found an "If You Smell Gas" emergency number online and got right through. They're sending a crew, and told me we should leave our apartments.

"This (profane expletive) apartment. I've left like 20 messages with the management's office over the past week, no one returns my call. My apartment is freezing, it's way below the city temperature code." (MEEROW!!!)

"Yeah, mine too. (cough cough)"

The door across the hall from Tenant Three opens. Tenant Four, a young woman, appears. "Hi, what's going on? Do you guys smell gas? Do you have heat?"

Tenant Two goes over and explains the situation to Tenant Four. Tenant Four wastes no time grabbing her coat and placing her two petite and amiable cats into an old fashioned Pet Taxi.

Meanwhile, Tenant Three is explaining that he has been feeling ill and stayed home from work today, headache, coughing, burning eyes.

The four Tenants and three cats head down to the first floor. They hear loud rock from the stereo. Tenant Two knocks on the lone apartment door. No answer. Tenant Three pounds on the door. A young male opens the door emitting louder music and the smell of smoke, patchouli and cannabis. Tenant Five looks startled, but in a mellow way. "Hey man, wassup?"

"Dude," Tenant Three answers, "there's a problem with the heat and gas. The gas company is coming, they're probably going to check your apartment so you better get rid of that stuff, man. Oh, and you probably better get out of your apartment."

"Dude! No way! Wassup with that? It's so bogus, man. My apartment is really cold but I don't smell gas."

Tenant Four mumbles, "Big surprise, how could you?"

The Four tenants go into the lobby to wait for the gas company crew. Tenant One's cat is meowing and growling, while Tenant Four's cats are genteelly bathing each other in their Pet Taxi. A young man appears at the lobby door and enters. He is apparently the husband of Tenant Four. "What's going on?"

"Hi honey," Tenant Four greets with a hug, "there's a problem with the heat and we smell gas. We're waiting for the gas company to show up. They told Tenant One to evacuate the apartment." She emphasizes evacuate as if it is a foreign word he may have never heard.

"We have to move out of this dump. This is it. I know it's a cute apartment, but this is crazy. How many times have we called about the heat?" Tenant Six asks rhetorically.

Tenant Five appears in a t-shirt, jeans and canvas sneakers.

"Dude, you might want to get a coat or something. They might make us leave." Tenant Three tells him.

"Nah, I'm fine." We don't know if he means he's not cold or if he's certain he won't be leaving his apartment.

The group of Six Tenants spend the next 15 minutes voicing various complaints about the building.

The gas company emergency crew appears.

One of the crew guys says, "Where's Tenant One? You called about a gas smell?"

"Hi, yeah, that's me. Some of the others in the building smell gas in their apartments, too."

"Yeah, pretty common this time of year. Probably a bad furnace. Is this everyone in the building?"

"No, there are two other tenants but they don't seem to be home."

"Well need to check every apartment. Anyone call the landlord? We'll need him to let us into the two apartments."

Tenant Three says, "Good luck trying to get him. I've been calling for a week."

Tenant Six says, "I'll call him. I can't wait to leave THIS message."

The two gas crew guys say, "Okay, let's start at the top and work down. Who lives all the way up?" Tenant One and Two raise their hands.

"Okay ladies, give us your keys."

"Should we go with you?" Tenant One asks.

"No. Youz need to stay out of your apartments until we give youz da all clear."

Tenant Six pulls out his cell phone and calls the landlord. His wife, Tenant Four, says, "Honey, do you have the emergency pager number? This is an emergency. You should call the emergency pager number."

No answer from the landlord. Tenant Six leaves an urgent message. Tenants One, Two and Three follow suit and also leave urgent messages.

The Tenant group waits. A silence has fallen over the group. Tenant Three says, "How long's it been? I'm going up there." He bolts from the lobby, lets the door slam behind him and can be heard pounding up the four flights of stairs.

Tenant Two says, "ooooh, the big man's gonna take care of the situation. As if he knows more than the gas company guys. What an idiot. He smells gas, stays home sick, doesn't connect the two in any way and now he's going to go up there and 'take care of it?' He is SUCH a jerk."

The other tenants awkwardly laugh and agree.

Tenant Six's phone rings.

"It's the landlord!" he proclaims.


"Yes, our apartments are freezing, and now we smell gas. The gas company is here and has made us evacuate our apartments. We're all standing in the lobby. There are two apartments with nobody home. You need to get over here and let the gas company into those apartments. And just what do you intend to do about us? My wife and I are certainly not going to risk going into our apartment tonight." he says this rapid fire, as if he's been working out his speech and wants to say it all before he forgets any of it. Tenant Four, his wife, gives him a "you go, honey, you da man" look and cuddles him proudly and affectionately.

The group hears a lot of "uh huhs" and "no, nows" from Tenant Six.

Tenant Three appears.

"Bad news. Tenant One they've got some high readings in your apartment, completely unsafe levels. Tenant Two, yours is bad, too, but not as high as Tenant One's. Anyone heard from the landlord?"

Tenant Six says to the landlord, "Hang on, hang on, we've just found out two of the apartments are unsafe. You have got to get here now."

"No. NOW!" and flips his cell phone closed.

"He said he couldn't be here for an hour, I told him to get here now. He better be on his way."

The gas company crew appear. "Bad news Tenants One and Two. We can't let you in there until the furnace is shut off. Unsafe. You've got a carbon monoxide situation, too. Anyone get the landlord yet?"

"Yes, he's on his way."

"Okay, meanwhile, who's next?" Tenants Three, Four and Six raise their hands and offer their keys to the gas company crew.

"Oh. My. God. What the Hell am I going to do? Where the Hell are we going to go?" Tenant Two screams.

Tenant Five says, "I think my apartment is fine. I don't smell anything in there."

An enormous argument breaks out among Tenants Two, Three and Five.

Tenant One's cat's meows have gone from mad and menacing to scared and pathetic. Tenant One is trying to sooth him.

Tenant Six says, "That's biggest cat I've ever seen in my life. What are you going to do with HIM?"

"I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do with me, yet. Probably impose on a friend."

Tenant Four: "Yeah, us too. Honey, you better called Kevin and Lisa and tell them we'll have to stay with them tonight."

"No way! I'm not staying there. We're going to a hotel and Landlord is paying for it." Tenant Six angrily shouts at her.

The gas company crew re-appears. "Tenant Three, no wonder you're sick. We got the highest readings in there. Tenants Four and Six, yours isn't as bad. Anyone heard from the landlord? We gotta shut the furnace off. If the landlord doesn't show one of you will have to let us in the basement. We gotta check those other two apartments and there's one more (looking at Tenant Five) got your keys?" Tenant Five proclaims that his apartment is fine, he'll let them in personally to prove it. Tenant Five and the two gas company crew leave to check Tenant Five's apartment.

Tenant Six calls the landlord. "Why aren't you here?! We could all be dead! They're going to have to shut off the furnace! You better be here in five minutes!" and flips his phone closed.

Tenant One is on the phone with a friend. "I don't know, they haven't really told us much other than it's not safe and having to turn off the furnace."

"I've got him in his bag, he's really upset. I can't go to Arthur's or Friend's because their cats and mine would kill each other. I mean, maybe they'll get the furnace fixed tonight and it won't be an issue."

The landlord appears.

There is mass shouting and yelling and accusing.

Landlord wants to talk to the gas company crew. Tenant Three and Six accompany him to talk to the gas company crew.

They're gone about 15 minutes when Tenant Two says, "(expletive) that (expletive) I'm not staying behind with the womenfolk. I'm going to find out what they're saying." she storms through the door, followed by Tenants One and Four.

They converge upon Tenant Five's apartment to find Tenant Five putting clothes in a grocery bag. "They said my place is the worst, because it's right next to the furnace. I can't stay. You guys have to leave, too. They're going to shut off the furnace. They're up checking the other apartments. Man, I wonder what they'll find in there...or who!"

Up the three go to find out what's happening.

They here the landlord talking on his cell phone, apparently to a heating and cooling repair company.

Tenant Six appears and tells his wife they are leaving. Now. He's got a room reserved at a posh hotel. "Ooooh honey, how romantic. What about the cats?"

"They said they'd accommodate them."

"Ooooh, how fun! A silver lining! I'll go pack! Do you think it's safe to go in for a few minutes?"

"They said our side isn't as bad, but not safe. Besides, it's going to get really cold tonight without any heat at all. Let's get out of here." The two leave Tenant One and Two standing in the hall.

"Ooooh, honey, how romantic, oooh, oooh, you me and the cats at a $500 per night hotel! ooooh ooooh" Tenant Two mimics Tenant Four.

Tenant Three emerges from the apartment and says, "Pack your bags girls, we can't stay here. They're shutting off the furnace. You might want to crack some of your windows, too." He nudges by them and heads upstairs.

"Well, that's it then. I've got to figure out where I'm going to stay." Tenant Two storms off.

Tenant One waits, hoping to talk to landlord.

She hears raised voices and arguing between landlord and the gas company crew.

"We have to report you. It's our responsibility to report landlords who have not kept equipment in safe operating condition. (expletive) sake, when was the last time you had that furnace cleaned? It's amazing you didn't kill all your tenants."

"I passed the building inspection, I've got the papers and signatures to prove it." the landlord protests.

"As if we don't hear that ten times a day. Who'd you pay to get your documents? There is no way that furnace passed inspection."

Landlord says nothing. Tenant One says, "So when is it going to be fixed?"

Landlord says he is trying to locate a service company.

Tenant One ponders out loud, "So I guess I better make arrangements to stay someplace else tonight..." voice trailing, looking at her cowering cat in his travel bag.

"Yeah, probably you should do that. Even if we get the furnace fixed tonight it's going to be cold." the landlord agrees.

Tenant One goes up to her apartment and calls her friend. Again. "No heat. Toxic fumes. Need a place to stay tonight. Please."

Fortunately tenants friend has been preparing since Tenant One's first call and is ready for her. She packs a few things, takes her cat and leaves.

As she exits the lobby she sees Tenants Four and Six walking hand in hand down the street, carrying their cats and rolling a suitcase. She sees Tenant Three packing up his car. He yells over to Tenant One, "I'm going to the hospital to get a check-up to be sure I'm okay - I called my doctor and he said I should."

"Probably a good idea since you were in there all day," she yells back.

She traipses up to the corner to catch a cab to her friend's place and finds Tenant Five with his grocery bag waiting at the bus stop. "Hey man, you find a place to crash tonight?" he asks Tenant One.

"yes, not too far, just up with a friend. How about you?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna crash with this girl I know."

"Great. See ya."

Tenant One cabs to her friend's place. She and her cat have a sleepless night on the couch. Her friend has agreed to house the cat until things are safe at Tenant One's apartment.

Will the furnace be repaired? Will the missing tenants be found and warned? Will Tenant Three suffer permanent health damage? Will there be a rent increase to cover the cost of the furnace repair? Will the City building inspector actually step foot on the premise?

9:19 PM

Tuesday, January 20, 2004  
Pink Stinks!
You've heard the rants and protests. Maybe you've even tried it yourself. Now it's time to do something about it.

Pink stinks my friends. Say it loud and proud.

Join the Red Army.

What is this Red Army you speak of?

It is a coalition of wine drinkers joined in a united front against all that is evil in the wine world: White merlot.

It is blasphemy in a bottle. It is wrong. It is an oxymoron.

And it's time to do something about it. It's time for action. This is a call to arms.

Click here to visit the Red Army recruitment center.

But what can I do?

I'm glad you asked. You can click here, select a Pink Stinks protest button, cut and paste the html into your blog or web template, and voila! You're in the army! You can then send a quick email to Pink Stinks including the url of the site your Pink Stinks! proclamation is posted and you'll be added to the ranks of enlisted active duty.

Write a blog against white merlot, send Pink Stinks! the url, and become an officer! (Be sure to include the identifier: [pink::stinks] somewhere in your post. This will make it easy for any casual searchers to find an official Pink Stinks! base camp on the web.)

I've never been one for organized things, I'm just not a joiner.

Fair enough. But you can spread the word on your blog or website. Mention the Pink Stinks crusade and be given immunity from the draft.

But, well, I sort of like white wine.

Okay, that's fine, as long as it's white. As in chardonnay or gewurztraminer or sake or any number of other valid white wines. It's the pink stuff we're after here.

Merlot is meant to be red. Not pink, blush or rose. Red.

Pink Stinks! Keep it red.

8:34 AM

Monday, January 19, 2004  
Forgive me Father for I have shopped. It has been 19 days since my last purchase of consumer goods. I accuse myself of the following lapses in fiscal responsibility:

• Three pair of earrings. But two pair are gifts so they don't count. And the pair I bought myself was on sale and besides I lost that one earring at the office holiday party and this is a replacement so really this new pair doesn't count.

• One fabulous necklace. Also on sale. And so fabulous it would have been a sin to not buy it.

• One black v neck cashmere top. The store was practically begging me to buy it. You know I don't usually partake in garments made of sacrificial animals. And I nearly did leave it right where it was because of my moral high ground in this regard. But when I walked by it again and that other woman was disrespectfully pawing it, I knew it would be wrong to let it go to an ill-cared for, ill respected home such as hers. So really, I had to buy it out of respect for the animals who gave their coats for that top. And the necklace will look very spectacular when paired with this it.

•One completely out of character sequined snowflake top that is adorable and makes even me look festive and oddly, more than a little sexy. Yeah. That's what I thought, too. So I bought it. And it was on sale, 50% reduction. Out of character, adorable, sexy AND a bargain? Why, that's downright praiseworthy. And I discovered it matches my blue hoodie exactly, so triple bonus score.

• One bottle Bobbi Brown foundation. You know I look like Casper. This is more of a goodwill gesture to the small children and old people in my neighborhood who mistake me in my mid-Winter pallor for a ghost returned from beyond the grave. The lip shimmer, however, was unnecessary. I was under the spell of Kenneth. I am powerless under his wiles. I ask for help and guidance with this issue. Because I am weak. And when Kenneth takes me to the back area and shows me the items he just got in that are not available to the public for two more weeks but he'll let me have first dibs because I'm special and there's a shade just made for me, I am captivated and unable to resist. Help me.

• One photo frame. Also a gift. Doesn't count.

• One Scooby Doo clock. Ditto.

(Pretty much everyone I know has a birthday or other gift giving event in February.)

• One bag of kitty litter. For Furry Creature. Necessary. No problem here. It's for the greater good.

Remember the many times I was strong and did not cave under the pressure of no pressure sales people and mortal earthly desires. Remember that I did not buy the entire MAC spring line. Be mindful that I did not purchase that really incredible scarf that was like gossamer and the most perfect shade for me ever. Be amazed that I did not purchase one pair of shoes. Marvel that I have not purchased a pair of shoes since October. And those don't really count because they were procured at Payless for use with my aircast, so really it's been since, like, July 15 since I bought a pair of shoes. Which I think is pretty damn miraculous. Remember that when I'm walking through the Valley of Death, will you?

Please advise and guide me in my erroneous ways. Forgive these lapses in fiscal responsibility and any others I may have forgotten between Michigan Avenue and my apartment. Remind me that my credit cards will never be paid off and savings for a house will never grow if I shop. Remind me that it is not up to me to shoulder the responsibility for keeping the economy going. Remind me that even though I was house- and office- bound with a broken ankle, I did shop online. Therefore I am no more deserving of a break and a little me time in the stores than anyone else. Remind me that my entire holiday weekend of plans falling through at the last minute is not just cause for going shopping. Spending money on earthly possessions will not fill any void left by the failure to achieve intrinsic well being. Help me remember this, today especially, as I shop for a gift for a very dear friend. The gift I went out to procure the past two days. Help me, please help me find the most perfect thing for her and nothing for me.

8:29 AM

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