I didn't go to as many SXSW parties as I originally planned. I didn't hit all the panels I wanted to hit. But I did have a lot of fun with some friends from out of town, the work stuff took care of itself and I ended up taking a luxurious Friday off work to decompress.
Then I spent the weekend relaxing, doing some housekeeping (at home and at work: Next time my desk at work gets as messy as it was, I'll snap a photo and show it to you here. It took literally six trash bins to clear all the press releases, Fed Ex boxes, folders and assorted junk that's been collecting for months.) and keeping as not-busy as I could.
I even went clothes shopping for the first time in roughly two decades. All the clothes I was wearing to work could be neatly categorized into two camps: Shirts and pants given to me as gifts and clothes that were purchased before 2000.
I don't mind clothes shopping, but I'm really picky, so on an all day clothes shopping trip, I'll maybe come back with two shirts and a pair of pants. (And if it's a particularly lean time, maybe a pair of boxers or a pair of socks.) I don't buy shoes that often, which explains the decrepit state of the current few pairs that I wear. I don't wear ties to work anymore, so that's one less thing to worry about. But the stuff I wear to work has become an odd blend of almost too-casual shirts that wouldn't look out of place during a night of clubbing, and older shirts from my shirt-and-tie days that look out of place without any neckwear.
I swear, this is why some junior and high schools enforce school uniforms.
This loose dress code that I have now at work is its own curse. When I wrote business, it was an unwritten rule that I had to wear nice clothes. I secretly liked the formality of it, except in the summer when wearing a tie in 110-degree heat has been known to send some older business reporters into fits of rage. But at least I had an idea of what to wear every day.
In the last few years, though, Austin's business climate has become so casual (especially in high-tech) that we often found ourselves way overdressed, even when interviewing CEOs of big companies. Friday was always our dress-down day, but now I see a lot of people in our business section have dispensed with ties altogether. Good for them.
Since I've been in features, I've been able to dress down a little, but I still don't wear jeans or T-shirts to work. It used to be that I was one of the youngest people in the newsroom and I didn't want to make myself seem even more immature. Now it's because I sort of manage, and I don't want to be the immature, young goofball of that group.
But am I still fashionable? Oh, baby, you know I am.
Did you guys watch The Sopranos last night? DAMN, that was some good TV! If I could wrap it up and stick it in the oven, it would have come out as a fine seven-course feast.
One of the things I love about The Sopranos, besides the fantastic acting and brilliant writing, is that the show is clever enough to touch on not just mob life, but the way violence touches all of us, even in indirect ways. Lorraine Bracco's character has been kept out of the limelight for a while now, but they brought her to the fore for a very good reason, and it opens up a huge can of worms. (I don't want to give anything away because they'll be re-running it all week in case you missed it.) I can't wait to see how the storyline plays out (if it plays out at all past this one great episode), but this turned out to be one of the best all-around stories in the entire show's history. Great, great show. If you don't think HBO is worth $11 a month, or however much it costs, think about the last time you paid $15 for you and a date to see some crappy movie like See Spot Run or Sweet November and tell me The Sopranos alone isn't worth about five times the price of admission.
I was goofing on the Sleep Number thing last time, and the funny thing is that I was at the mall shopping with Rebecca this weekend and we happened to pass by The Sleep Store. I got all excited because I'd spent an entire evening making fun of them on my site and I thought how delicious it would be for me, the supreme Internet anarchist, to enter their lair and then mock them even more later.
The sad truth is they probably have way more important things to worry about than me, like what kind of toilet paper they should stock in the employee bathroom, or whether the Sleep Number display should be at a 30 degree of 45 degree angle to the front entrance.
So, posing as a couple who was very serious about purchasing a very expensive mattress in the near future, Rebecca and I got our sleep numbers tested.
What happens is you lay on a special hydraulic-enabled mattress that makes lots of noise as its adjusted. It sounds like it's trying to make you a cappuccino and drill into the Earth's core at the same time. The very friendly Mattress Guy assured us, "The mattress you buy for your home doesn't make this much noise."
He spent about five minutes adjusting the Sleep Number Vessel up to a "100." He had us lie on it, directing us to lay back in our natural sleep positions, as if he was directing amateur porn. "Just do what comes naturally. Cameras are rolling." The mattress was set to start at its most firm position, which felt like lying on a long wooden board.
Then, using an oversized hand-held controller, he began to mess with our spines as if we were a PlayStation game called, "Skeleto-Blast!" He softened up the bed, and the oddest thing happened: We had the uncomfortable sensation of feeling our asses slowly sink into the mattress. It was creepy, like watching a time-lapse photo of Teri Hatcher turning into the stretched-out creepy Radio Shack-shilling banshee she is today. It was like an ass-aging simulation. At some point he asked if we were comfy, and we said yes and he said something like, "Well that shows that you like a bed that isn't too soft, but that also isn't too hard."
"So, basically, we're one of the three bears, and more than likely we're the baby bear?" I asked.
He handed us the controllers so we could adjust the firmness ourselves. I still had some ass-sink, so I was never completely at ease. I was wondering if when I got up there'd be this ass-crease in the mattress for everyone to see.
At one point, Rebecca said that her lower back suddenly hurt, and the guy got a panicked look on his face. "Huh. That's a new one. No one's every complained of that before..." Meanwhile, outside the store, dozens of "Sleep Number Survivors" were walking around on crutches or confined to wheelchairs, cursing the very day they sought a good night's sleep.
While we were lying there, I could see people passing by in the mall, leading normal lives, not subjecting themselves to such things just because a Web site told them there'd be a free pillow involved.
I turned out to be a 40. Rebecca was a 45, I think.
The guy, who actually was very cool about the whole thing and probably knew that there was going to be no real mattress buying on this day, still insisted on giving us a bag full of mattress-porn, including pamphlets, an informational brochure and even a 20-minute video ("Sleep Numbers and You: God's Great Plan").
I haven't watched it yet. I'm waiting for the night when I can't sleep, so I can get informed and blame it all on my old, springy mattress.
"Dude, I didn't know the words either, but I know it's not, 'Cuz I got fleas like a bird.' "