29 January 2007

Customer is King

Of course Internet addict like me, the first thing I inquired about once I moved in to my apartment was getting Internet service. I was told that Time Warner Cable is the company that serves this area and I gave them a call. I was told the earliest time I could get a technician out would be the 26th of January two weeks from my move in date. I don’t have a choice do I so I wait. I was told that I would need to give payment to the technician who comes to set me up so on Friday I excitedly leave a check with my building super. At about 9:20 am on friday on my way to work I get a call from my building super saying the technician was here and needed to have the password to my computer. I was so excited; finally I can browse the Internet in peace. I get home and ask my building super how things went. He said he didn’t know about the cable but he knew the technician work in the Internet connection. Hmm … He also didn’t take the check I left. Now that was odd, I had been told to have payment ready. I go up to my apartment and quickly look around no cable box but I do see the cable modem yippee. I power on my computer and no Internet. I look around perhaps there are instructions nothing. I decide to call TWC. My first attempt at speaking with a tech resulted in me being on hold for 26 mins. I hung up and called again and was on hold this time for 48 mins. I then gave up and went to bed, what a buzz kill. Saturday I woke up early and called them again. I was on hold this time for about 30 mins. I hung up and then decided to call the sales number I was confident that a human being would be on hand to sell the service if one wasn't on hand to help solve problems that the poor clients who have been suckered into signing up for the yeye service being offered were having. I got to talk to a human being in like 3 mins and I complained about my Internet and also the fact that my cable wasn’t installed. The lady told me they only had an order for the Internet not the cable. What? How did that happen? Apparently my initial order was cancelled and replaced with another one for just the Internet. WTF? So what happens now I ask? Well I will have to wait till the 5th for a tech to come out and hook up the cable. WTF? Why do I have to suffer for you peoples obvious ineptitude I ask? ‘I understand that you are upset and I apologise but the earliest anyone can come out is the 5th’ she says. Argh!!! ‘I should have gone for DirecTV’ I reply. Unfazed she replies ‘Should I not bother with the cable order then?’ Imagine. I was getting a good deal on the Internet because of the cable so I really wasn’t going anywhere. I mumble something and she confirms the appointment for the 5th. Then she connects me to the technical help department to sort out my Internet issues. I was on hold to them for 2 hrs and 26 mins. Imagine!!! At the end of the day it turns out a tech has to come out and sort out the issue. Argh!!! I was really banking on Internet connection this weekend so I could research buying a car in peace. After yelling and yelling I got an appointment to get the tech out on Monday. I drop the phone and call the sales people again to see if I can move my cable hook up to Monday as well. I was told it would not be possible because it would involve cancelling both work orders and creating a new one and the closest date for the new appointment would be the 8th of February. Wetin do this people? I asked for and got the address to send my complaint to and believe me I was so angry I was actually going to write a letter. Now I am not so sure, lets see how Monday goes.

Working out Cali style

After much procrastination, I haul my butt off to the gym on Wednesday. Luckily my gym has branches in California with one not to far from my apartment. All I needed to do was come in and make an appointment for my training session. As I stepped in through the doors I thought perhaps I had entered a covered version of Oshodi market without the confusion.

An aside - By the way I am watching ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition as I type up this post, and I am just tearing up. Without fail every Sunday this show makes me cry. Its good news for my tear ducts, although I do feel silly afterwards crying for 'no' reason. I think the solution will be to just stop watching the show but I am such a sucker for triumph of the human spirit stories and secretly wish I could be a crew member on one of the remodels ...

Na so so people full everywhere, every piece of equipment had somebody on it furiously working out; jogging, stepping, pulling, pushing, lifting. For sure I had never seen a gym this full before. I was a little intimidated. The guy I spoke with was friendly and he put me at ease. I made an appointment for my gym orientation for Friday. Of course I went shopping for gym clothes (yes I am vain, I know) and I was finally motivated to shave my under arm hair! Friday arrives and I meet with my trainer who has piercings everywhere I looked. I had done the orientation thing in Texas when I first joined the gym and thought I had seen it all. Half way through I began to realize that orientation in Texas and orientation in California – two different things. In Texas they are a bit laid back, my orientation consisted of a walk around the gym, doing a couple of leg exercises, weighing in and calculating my body fat percentage. On Friday I did all of that plus a long series of evaluations; the way I walk was evaluated, the way sit and stand. My body was measured from top to bottom; shoulders, arms, waist, hips, thighs, calves (turns out I am very symmetric), my upper body strength was measured (with my trainer commenting on my apparently well developed triceps argh!) as well as my lower body strength. Apparently I am also well balanced on my feet and that was a surprise for me to hear although I must admit that I had noticed that walking in high heels has been a lot easy for me to do since I started working out last year, although a friend says that can be attributed to that fact that the walkways here are all paved! Oh and we had a long talk about nutrition and how important it is as per my quest to loose weight. I must admit that I haven’t been eating well since I moved out here, but now that I have my own place and can cook I am finally eating well. Once again I was encouraged to eat 4 – 6 small meals a day to keep my metabolism up, not peaking and dipping. I felt a sense of seriousness about this trainer, a sense I just didn’t feel about my trainer in Texas. I am really not surprised though; this is California, the land of beautiful people. Once again I am given a workout journal into which had been written all my vital statistics and asked to get my resting heart rate. I am actually looking forward to my next session next Friday so much so, I remembered to take my heart rate first thing this morning.

25 January 2007


See me see trouble, I have been looking for the George Michael/Mary J Blige version of 'As' since I got to work today, 3 hours into my intensive search I still have no song playing on my iPod! I could have sworn I had the song somewhere, but after spending the whole of two days looking through every cd I had I realised I would need to buy it so off to iTunes I go. Apparently the song was initially released as a single in the UK and then subsequently was released on the 'Ladies & Gentlemen...The Best of George Michael' as well as the 'Twenty Five' albums. Now for some strange reason the song was only released on the import versions of the albums so when I go to iTunes the song doesn't exist, same thing for amazon.com but when I go to amazon.co.uk - bam!- Robert is your relative! There it is listed as the second song on disc 2 ('on the Ladies & Gentlemen...The Best of George Michael' album). I am curious as to the logic behind this whole 'import' album versions and why some really good songs never seem to make it to the US versions of said cds. I am even more suprised with respect to this particular song. Its a cover of a classic from the american wonder Stevie, produced by the ageless Babyface and features a very prominent US musical presence i.e. Mary J Blige. Did some people think that all that hanky panky good ol' George has been up to in apparently all the public restrooms in LA would hurt Mary, Babyface and Stevie and as such decided to distance them from him? What do I know shey? Anyhow I finally find a US store with an album that lists the song; Walmart has the 'Twenty Five' album on pre-order and 'As' is listed as one of the songs the 3 cd set contains. Who is going to wait till the 27th of March to listen to a song? plus as much as I love music I really don't see the sense in spending $30 just to effectively buy one song! To think studio execs are wondering why illegal music downloads are so popular! If no be say I don reform my ways, for sure I would not be here wasting valuable billable hours whinging!

Eureka! A solution just came to me, all you UK pple, is there a UK version of the iTunes Store? If so how can I get my iTunes application to search that instead of searching the US store. Alternatively is there a site for a reputable store (like walmart.com) that will allow you to buy individual songs in digital form?

Note: To iTunes credit they did state that their listing of the contents of the 'Ladies & Gentlemen...The Best of George Michael' album was a partial one.

19 January 2007

Apartment? Check!

It’s an unusually cold evening by California standards and I am writing this post perched on my air bed in the middle my living room! Yup that’s right, sister girl finally found an apartment. Let me tell you all about it. My hotel reservation was going to expire on Tuesday and determined not to extend it again (I had succumbed last week), I attacked the Westside rentals site and craigslist sites with a vengeance. I had seen a place I liked about a week ago and submitted an application. Thinking I was in pole position to get the apartment I kinda slowed down looking alas the 419 people just collected my application plus $30 processing fee, they didn’t even have the courtesy to call and tell me I had been declined, meanshile the listing is still active on the rental board o! Yeye people. I spent Saturday and Sunday driving around the whole of the south bay LA area and although I was getting desperate I wasn’t really feeling any of the apartments I saw. I did see something on Saturday which I naija woman showed me. I took the forms and decided if all else failed I would apply to rent it. Monday morning, just as I was beginning to resign myself to the fact that I might be extending my reservation after all ( I couldn’t bring myself to manage the naija woman’s place), I saw it. The pictures of the exterior looked nice, the rent was well within my budget and included utilities, the deposit was surprisingly low. Could this be too good to be true? Reining in my enthusiasm, I called and made an appointment to see it. The outside looked nothing like the picture I had seen, aha I thought to myself and almost drove off without taking a look inside (thank God that didn’t happen!) It wasn’t like it was bad, I was just going with the ‘if it looks to good to be true it most probably is’ philosophy. Anyhow I step in and it was a totally different scenario. The foyer/lobby was really clean and welcoming and peaceful. Hmm I punch in the code for the manager and he lets me in. He looked like the kind of person who could make roses grow on concrete, and the inside of the apartment building seemed to prove me right. Flower beds were everywhere, well tended with everything in glorious bloom, and not a piece of trash in sight. I felt even more at peace could this be it? The vacant apartment was upstairs (good) spacious kitchen area with a brand new fridge and a gas stove. Plenty of cupboard space, dual sinks, not that much counter space although the counter tops were in good condition. Nice. Ceiling fan in the living room, not the largest living room I had seen since my search began but it would do. Good size bathroom, I could actually turn around in it. No stains in the tub, grout mould free, the seal around the tub was in good condition, faucets and shower head in good condition. The bedroom wasn’t too small, it would fit a queen size bed easily with space for a dresser and arm chair (I have become very good at this) sizable closet although it wasn’t a walk in (bummer). All the doors in the apartment were varnished as opposed to painted and it gave the place a certain warmth and charm. I also noticed the carpets were stain free and the walls newly painted. No strange smells. It wasn’t the largest apartment I had seen since my hunt began, but it was in good condition, in a nice neighborhood, I could really see myself living here. I decided to apply and see how that would turn out. After the tour, I expressed my desire to apply to rent and I explained my situation in as much detail as was relevant. ‘Would it be worth your while and mine if I applied?’ I asked. ‘I don’t see why not’ He replies. 10 mins later I turn in my completed application. He looks at it and says ‘If you write me a check for the deposit now, I will take down the ‘for rent’ sign and once I can confirm your employment details the apartment is yours’. I couldn’t believe it. Kia I wrote the check and to celebrate I drove to the Citadel Factory Outlets in search of a coat. I didn’t find anything I liked but I did get a pair of DKNY sunglasses from SGH and a really nice shirt from Banana Republic. I had almost bought the sunglasses in Houston from SGH, was I glad I didn’t I got them for half the price, that alone made the drive out so worth it.

Although I had noted that the carpets were clean at my soon to be apartment, I really couldn’t sleep on the floor so air bed searching I went. Of course I called my Atlanta support group for a consult. ‘Get the Aerobed brand air bed’ she advised. After an extensive search online, the earliest I would be able to get one would be 5 working days (not good). I decided to just go to Wal-Mart and buy whatever they had on sale. I was a bit apprehensive about going to Wal-Mart, first off it was in an area totally foreign to me and I would be going when it was dark. How would I be able to read my Google map and all that? Anyways I arrived there without incident (thankfully). The trip was educative; first I have never seen a Wal-Mart that was part of a mall and definitely not one that was on three floors. I wondered how I was supposed to get from floor to floor with my shopping cart then I realized that the carts had their own escalator. Cool. Air bed? Check, Bed sheets and pillow case? Check, Thermal blanket? Check, Pillow? Check. Keeping my eyes wide open and my purse in a deathlike grip, I traverse the packing lot, load up my purchases and get out of the area as fast as I could ( I don’t know why I felt so threatened). Tuesday morning I happily checked out of the hotel (bye bye to Subway Sandwiches). I got a call from the apartment manager later in the morning telling me I was all checked out and the apartment was officially mine as soon as I could come get the paperwork done. I left work at about 4 PM, spent like 20 mins filling and signing the required forms a quick 10 mins orientation of the premises followed and finally he handed over the keys. ‘Welcome to the building’ he said. I felt like I had won the lottery.

My first night was uneventful save for the cold, it was freezing! I thought I had dressed warmly enough to sleep in the bedroom since the only heater in the whole apartment was in the living room. However I awoke at about midnight to realize the error in my thinking. I relocated my bedding and myself to the living room and once I was camped as close as I possibly could to the heater I slept pretty much till my alarm went off. Of course I didn’t go to bed without reading Psalms 24 and 91 at Princess’ request. Reading them was comforting though and made me feel even more at peace as I went to bed in my ‘strange’ surroundings. I did a little grocery shopping too that night, managed to clean the fridge out before going to bed not like it was dirty or anything just for the sake of my sanity I guess. Again I visited another Wal-Mart. Although this one was not on several floors like the one I had visited earlier I found it to be pretty similar; teaming with Blacks and Hispanics, isles in disarray, and not a fresh vegetable in sight. I guess I would have to put off eating a salad till I go to Ralphs were I must add everything costs way too much. My commute to work was less than 20 mins which really isn’t bad considering; I have a colleague who has a one way commute of 90 mins! My second night was much warmer. I kept all the doors closed when I left in the morning so the living room was quite toasty when I arrived. I had planned on buying a space heater but those things I am told are such a fire hazard so I decided against it. A friend advised that I turn my oven on and leave the door ajar which I did till I went to bed. That was some good advice. I did the same thing when I woke up and by the time I was ready to leave the house I was feeling like turning on the fan! It should get warm soon sha thankfully. I plan to spend the weekend unpacking my bags (it feels so good typing that) and putting my kitchen in some kind of order. I bought a TV yesterday so I wouldn’t be bored out of my mind; the cable/Internet people will not be able to set me up till end of the month imagine! Meanwhile what is the deal with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’? It seems this season’s plot is for everyone to be romantically involved with their attendings; the latest couple - Alex and Addison. A collegue had promised to show me some furniture stores where I can get really good deals on disposable furniture, I am looking forward to that. Now my next major task is returning my rental car while I search furniture listings on craigslist and scour for garage sales. Did I mention that since Tuesday my phone has been ringing off the hook; after weeks of talking to answering machines and leaving requests for call backs, it seems everyone I have ever called as per renting an apartment picked this week to return my calls! When it rains it certainly pours.

09 January 2007

First day at work

Couldn't sleep, wonder why. I had turned in for the night like 10:30 pm, tossed and turned till 3:30 am. Thankfully I didn't have to get to work till 9 am (I love this job) and my office is just like 10 mins away. I wore the suit and I must say I was looking very fetching ;-). I got to work without incident and was pleasantly suprised to find my work station all preped, my computer ready, email account set up, all logons created. Plus I have home access! This was very unlike the reception I received at my first job in Houston; it took a whole week to get me the appropriate logons and permissions on the network and my computer set up! I spent the first couple of hours filling in paper work and getting introduced to other members of staff. I was beginning to worry that I was the only female on staff and was pleased to learn that there are to of us; the other one was away on vacation. She is Asian and I am looking forward to meeting her. I hope she is nice, and she can cook, I really want to learn to cook authentic chinese food, I hope she will be predisposed to teaching me. Then I had a two hour briefing then we did lunch (this people like eating, end of story) then another briefing. For sure there will be no napping at this job, these people mean business. Everyone was polite, the guy who seats next to me has the most amazing eyelashes! They are very thick with a slight curve, they make his eyes look so beautiful, for real I had to caution myself to not stare too much especially since I had just read and signed the sexual descrimination clause in the employee handbook!

iPhone hits stores in June '07

Apple renames itself today (Apple Inc) as Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone. The thing fine no be small. At $499 a pop for the 4GB version and $599 for the 8GB version it will not be a cheap phone but for all the functionality it is actually promising to deliver it might well be worth it. There is a catch though, it will only be available for Cingular subscribers :-(

08 January 2007

I moved yet again!

To California, and maybe this time I will get to unpack my bags. I got a cheap flight out and thanks to Priceline affordable lodgings. I start work tomorrow and I am undecided if I should wear a suit or do business casual. I think I am the laziest thing on the face of the earth. Although I am happy to be starting work, I am not exactly thrilled at giving up my ‘idyllic’ life i.e sleep till noon, stay up till 5am. However as we all know, lounging around the house all day don’t pay no bills except of course if your last name is Kashoggi or Onassis (yup I am old school!) so to work I go!

Apartment hunting has been … interesting. After expunging visions of me lounging in the living room of my beachfront townhouse with hardwood floors enjoying my view of the bluer than blue water with the whiter than white sand, I head out armed with a realistic listings in the area. This realistic thing really sucks, all the places within my budget I didn’t like and by this weekend I was beginning to get a little depressed. Things began to look up when I stumbled upon a cute studio in Redondo Beach, the landlord was ‘amazed’ I could speak English so well, apparently I sound neither Nigerian nor African (he should know he worked 30 years in the airline industry). At the end of the day I had to pass on making an offer on the studio, it didn’t have a stove because it wasn’t well vented. I wonder how the guy is planning to get someone to sign a one year lease on an apartment/studio without a stove anyway this is oyinbo country and eating out is the order of the day. Me I am sick of eating out I am not joking a Subway sandwich is sprouting from the top of my head! I spoke with the friend of a friend of a friend who encouraged me to expand my search area. This seems to be working because I have seen several places which I like and which I can afford. I like one of them so much; I actually filled out the application!!! My fingers are crossed!!!

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls

I am watching Anderson Cooper 360 and on his show today he is talking with Oprah. In case you haven’t heard, Oprah recently opened the doors to her $40 M academy in South Africa. When I first heard about the school, I wondered what motivated her to embark on this particular project, and anticipated criticism whatever her motives might be. I have not been disappointed. She has received a lot of flack from home and abroad as per the ‘extravagance’ that is The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. I think the most petty/ignorant thing I have heard so far is; ‘these are African girls living in huts, they don’t need all this finery’. Really. The fact that you are from/live in a certain part of the world should dictate the kinds of opportunities you receive? Interesting. Let me not forget to point out that this is all Oprah’s money, not tax payers funds o! I got a clue to her inspiration as I watched the show; a quote from Oprah came up on screen. I don’t remember it verbatim, but its something along the lines that the South African children wanted the education more than the kids in inner-city schools who all seemed to just want IPods and fancy sneakers. As my people will say ‘Eni to lori o ni fila’ (Person wey get head no get cap). South Africans also have something to say, perhaps she didn’t need to spend $40M on a facility for 152 girls when she could have spent the same amount and wouldn’t have had a need to turn back any applicants (over 3500 girls applied for a place in the academy). Perhaps. My issue is not that the school is too grand, rather that these girls will still return to the shacks/huts from which they came, will the school be able to help them see that they can rise above their circumstances and hold their own with the crème de la crème of society like Oprah despite their humble beginnings? Will they see the school as the opportunity it is to a better life not as a life support machine? I wish Oprah and her 152 daughters all the best.

On a lighter note, I wondered why Jeff Koinange was holding on to Oprah for dear life while they walked and talked on the Academy campus. Then I saw it, Oprah’s lashes were so long there were sending strong gales in the poor guys direction every time she blinked. Okay okay the sun was casting shadows so they seemed longer than they actually were but really Oprah should consider reducing the length of her lashes just a tad bit.