Monday, November 29, 2010

Stuff I'm Thankful For

At Thanksgiving dinner we were requested by our hostess to say something we were thankful about. I said I was thankful I got to go skiing earlier in the day, and to my credit I did NOT say I was thankful that I got to do something fun with my family rather than spending days cleaning, shopping, cooking and then cleaning just as much again after everyone went home.

My gynecologist turned me on to skiing on Thanksgiving. He was looking at me through the stirrups, making idol chitchat about how he and his sons have been going to the mountain for years because there are no crowds and no lift lines. When they go home, his wife has a big turkey feast waiting for them.

I wonder what it would be like to be the wife of a gynecologist? Just think about it.

Since he told me that about skiing, I’ve made it my life’s goal to get invited out for Thanksgiving rather than spending it in the kitchen slaving. I’ve been able to do it for the last two years, and with any luck, I can keep this tradition going.

But scamming Thanksgiving dinner is not the subject of today’s blog. Nope, getting out of cooking and cleaning is wonderful, but I want to devote this space to some of the things I’m thankful for. Let me share my little list.

I’m thankful that my kids no longer rely on me to drive them around. Oh Lord am I thankful for that.
I’m thankful that, in spite of how much they appear to bumble, the politicians I voted for are trying hard to make life better for me personally and for others who don’t have my gifts and advantages.

Speaking of those others, I’m thankful I live in a country that wants to take care of our poor even when some of them seem to be taking advantage. I would hate to live in a third world country where the poor line the streets like wax paper and no one pays any attention to them. If I didn’t have to pay taxes, that would be great, but as long as there are poor and disadvantaged, I love knowing our poor aren’t nearly as poor as the poor in the rest of the world.

When you get right down to it, I’m actually thankful I pay taxes, because I like public schools and roads, nice public buildings and museums, subsidized clinics where suffering people can find some relief, public housing for people who couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. I hate that there are lazy people who take advantage of my taxes (shame on you), but I’m very happy that children born to poor families get the opportunity to be educated in spite of their circumstances.

I’m thankful for my dog who is excited when I walk in the door even if I’ve just gone out to the mailbox.

I’m thankful for TV. Yes there are so many awful programs (Jerry Springer to name a few), but I like finding free movies to watch so I can float away from reality like a soapy bubble blown out of a plastic wand. I’m especially thankful for The Big Bang Theory.
I’m thankful for laptops and comforters and chocolate chips and sunny days.

Now I’m going to give YOU something to be thankful about. I’m going to end this sentimental romp down Pollyanna lane and jump into something I’m very, very thankful for. A warm bed piled high with heirloom quilts my grandma patched together. Now that right there is definitely something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Floating in an Italian Alley

My daughter and I went to Europe a couple of years ago. We had a fantastic time, mostly because my daughter’s red hair attracted attention and won us special favors and kindnesses. Even in France, where there is a reputation of impatience with Americans, we were treated well. My daughter also knew enough French to talk to the waiters. They were aken by her. One waiter flirted openly and gave her his phone number – right in front of me. He asked if he could come to America to see her.

The most memorable experience, however, was in Italy. Italian men practically shoved themselves at her. Unlike in France where people on the streets were in a hurry and did not seem inclined to notice us, the Italian men leisurely gawked at us when we walked by. Sometimes we’d be in those cobbled alleyways with only a few people around, and the waiters would be standing outside smoking. All Italian waiters smoke. They’d see us coming from far away and stared the whole time we walked toward them, looking us up and down openly and unabashedly as we passed.

I’d like to take a second to look up the word “unabashedly” because by anyone’s standards that’s a doozie. Doozie is another word I’d like to look up. It was popular back in the day, but I don’t hear people using it much anymore. Either of these words would be well worth a side trip to Funk and Wagnall, but I’d like to get on with my story so that will have to wait.

When the men eyeballed us (and by “us” I mean my daughter), I’d say under my breath, “Don’t look at them. I don’t want them following us around like stray dogs.”

They were a fine looking bunch of specimens and that is the truth. Italian men are a delicious feast for the eyes. Slurp. But I’d read in the touristy books that it was not a good idea to encourage them. The books warned of men grab women’s bottoms in public. I don’t think I would have been too offended if I was the destination of some wandering Italian hand, but I sure didn’t want one of these guys groping my baby girl.

So we both kept our eyes facing forward and picked up our pace when we’d see the smoking Italians leaning against the outside café walls, drinking us in like we were Chianti.

Once, however, we were walking down an alley in the sultry, dusky evening, and a young Italian man was walking toward us. He had on a long-sleeve white shirt with the cuffs rolled up, and long, dark pants that swished as he walked. He was tall and exceedingly good-looking, and he had not taken his eyes off of us the entire time he swaggered toward us. As usual I whispered, “Just stare straight ahead.”

He smiled brightly at us when he was about twenty feet away and my daughter must have smiled back because he stopped, and in that exaggerated Italian way you see Italian men act in movies, he grabbed his heart with both hands and said, i“Ahhhh, she smile at me! She breakin’ my heart!”

We both giggled and said, “Buon giorno.” He stood still and watched us walk by, still clutching his heart, grinning with luminescent white teeth. He made us feel like we were beautiful and exotic and like we were eye candy right back at him.

One day when I’m in a nursing home drooling cream of wheat, I hope I still remember this man and his flamboyant compliment to two worn out Americans tromping down the street on exhausted legs after another hot, humid day of roaming around Rome trying to snatch every sight in three fast days, and how he made us feel like we were walking on air.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why Credit Cards Are Evil

I recently got a bundle of blank checks from my credit card company. They send them every other day, it seems like, with exciting headings that say, “CONSOLIDATE YOUR OTHER DEBTS AND SAVE! LOW INTEREST!”

I usually tear them up because I know they’re EVIL, but yesterday I was curious just how evil they were. Let me tell you, folks, they are very, VERY evil.

I got out my 20x magnifying glass and started reading the fine print. It said, “Yo, sucka, if you decide to use these checks, you will owe us: (1) an arm, (2) a leg, (3) your first-born child, (4) your sister’s first-born child, and (5) everything else.” Trust me, these credit card companies are not after your best interests. They want your interest, and anything else they can get.

You may have heard the old saying, “If you do (blank), we’ll slap you with a fine.” This statement could, indeed, apply to the credit card companies. “If you use one of these checks, we’ll slap you with charges and interest fees so high you’ll have to climb to the top of Mt. Everest to find them.”

For example, I have two credit cards. One I use because it pays cash back bonuses. When I looked at the checks they sent (and I’m doing this from memory because I’ve already torn them up), it said I could consolidate all my other, higher interest debts into this one payment at a low interest rate. Sounds great. But here’s the catch. They wanted a fee of $10 or 5% of the value of the check, whichever was highest. Hummmm, $10 isn’t bad. I can afford that. Besides, that 5% would require me to think, or worse, remember 7th grade math.

Maybe I’m one of those people who spent 7th grade writing notes to my girlfriends or I was the boy who kept dropping pencils so he could look up girls’ skirts and didn’t have the time or inclination to pay a whole lot of attention to those lessons on percentages. What good was it going to do me? I’d never use it anyway. Maybe I’m one of those Scarlett O’Hara types and will think about it tomorrow, after the money is in my hand.

Whatever the case, these are the kinds of people the credit card companies are BANKING on, and I mean that literally. They are making masses of money on these checks, and I’ll tell you how.

In the first place, why would a smart human use these checks? They wouldn’t. But there are plenty of followers of Sarah Palin who would use these checks, and they’d use them without doing the math because they didn’t graduate from high school, or if they did, it was a GED, or by the skin of their teeth or whatever. OR they have an addiction. But whatever their background, the reason these people would use these checks is because they’re desperate for cash RIGHT NOW. If they are only desperate for $200 in cash, they’ll be okay, because they’ll only pay the $10 fee. However, if they are desperate for, say, $10,000 in cash because Guido is going to break their legs and or put their feet in a bucket of cement, or both, then they think, “Here’s how I can get that 10,000 bucks right now and it will be AT ONLY FOUR PERCENT INTEREST for SIX WHOLE MONTHS!”

So what’s the big deal? If you multiply $10,000 by .05 (Sarah, FYI that’s the way you calculate 5 percent), you get $500. FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS! They will charge you $500 to write that check. Flat fee. No negotiating.
Immediately you owe the credit card company $10,500. And they’ll start charging their 4% or whatever interest rate on that from day one. Or they’ll give you 3 months of zero interest and then start charging a huge interest rate from then on. Either way, you’re out $500. Just think of the big screen TV you could buy for your trailer with that money if the credit card people didn’t have it.

Even though this money is touted for the use of consolidating debt, I called the credit card company and they said it could be used for anything. “Just write the check to yourself and deposit it in your bank.”

Even followers of Sarah Palin must realize that this is a scam. Do not allow yourself to be a victim of white trash politics AND credit card robbery. It’s just too tragic.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Lost My Website

I lost my website! I looked under the beds, in the closets, in the back yard (in case my dog dragged it outside), behind the refrigerator, in the attic, behind my son’s ears, under both sofas, under all the sofa cushions (which was a lucrative place to look), in my car, in my daughter’s lair (generally a no-man’s land), and everywhere else but I couldn’t find it.
Then I realized that a company whose name could be pronounced Yey-Who (which is defined as a country bumpkin – and by sheer coincidence is the only word I can think of right now that rhymes with pumpkin), this company had allowed my domain name to expire. If you don’t know what a domain name is, consider yourself lucky. You are oblivious to websites and the internet. Why is this good? I don’t know, I’m blathering.
Alright, alright I’ll tell you what a domain name is. It’s the name where you reach a website or blog, such as The www part in front of that stands for World Wide Web – not to be confused with SLW, Simply Local Web. This web actually doesn’t really exist. I just made it up. As a matter of fact, there isn’t any other Web – world wide or otherwise – so you can get away with simply typing without the www. You sure as heck don’t need the extra http colon forward-slash forward-slash in front of the web address, as in this example: Typing that to get to a website just shows that you are a rube amateur when it comes to the internet.
EXCEPT when you’re going to an FTP site. This stands for Foot Toe Pie. Ha Ha. It really stands for File Transfer Protocol, which is a fancy phrase website designers use to describe how they get stuff off their home computer (like sticky buggers) onto the World Wide Web for everyone else to partake of. But you don’t need to know anything about that because you are not a website designer.
Which leads me to why I lost my website. This certain web company I mentioned earlier whose name rhymes with BaBoo had my domain name, but they kept raising the price every year. Well, I raised a stink, so to speak, when they automatically renewed my domain name at an even higher price. I could have sworn I’d cancelled my service with them, but there was no documentation etc. etc. so I paid - but swore it would be the last time. I cancelled reordering my domain name from them, but it was about 11 months ago, and a person like me can forget a lot of stuff in 11 months, believe you me.
Since I had cancelled, when the year was up, this company didn’t warn me my domain name was going to be cancelled, and somehow I neglected to put a tickler on my calendar to remind myself. A tickler, if you don’t know, is a feather device that tickles you silly when something is coming up. It especially loves the armpits and behind the knees – it would get the bottoms of your feet if it could reach. You’ll do anything to make it stop because you’re just about to wet your pants.
So my domain name expired, unbeknownst to me, and since I’ve been working so many hours and haven’t blogged in a coon’s age and then some, I didn’t notice until one of my loving fans (and neighbor) expressed his extreme disappointment that I haven’t been filling pages of nonsense and that my website now was an advertisement from the Web company to buy frivolous stuff of no use to anyone on this, or any other, planet.
So I’m happy to say that I got my domain name – – and my website back. And the web company was nice about it all – very helpful. I hold no grudge against them except for the skyrocketing raise in prices of previous years but, hey, they’re trying to make a living too, just like the rest of us. They just believe it should be a very GOOD living.
So you, oh loyal and faithful readers, can expect many more words out of me. I can’t claim they’ll be sensible, honest, or even amusing, but, just like beans around the campfire during a cattle drive, there’ll be plenty of ‘em.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Everything Comes Out in the End

I had to go by a customer’s house to deliver some paperwork. I parked down on the street because the last time I went to this customer’s house I blocked the driveway when the Mrs. came home. I had my dog with me because she tags along everywhere – she’s a little black nine-pound mop and pretty portable.

This customer has a beautiful yard with that thick, unnatural grass that looks better than a golf course. Flowers were everywhere. The homeowners had their door open and I could hear the clanking of utensils on kitchenware – they were either eating or preparing dinner. I thought I could see the Mrs. through the giant picture window setting the formal dining room table.

I didn’t want to leave the dog in the car because she barks her fool head off, so I let her out. I figured it would be safe because I’d seen her a couple of hours earlier doing a doggie do-do and she usually only does one a day.

She jumped out of the car and ran up the driveway so that she was in the middle of the yard right in front of the picture window. She hunched over and I knew this was not going to be a wee-wee. She strained for an eternity and then dropped a Tootsie Roll right in the middle of that beautiful yard. I was SO embarrassed.

I walked all the way back to the car, got a baggie, and tromped over to the place she went so I could clean it up. Of course I couldn’t find it, so I had to pace back and forth in front of that picture window in a searching grid until I finally found it.

I scurried back to the car and placed the bagged-up turd on the street where I wouldn’t miss it, then started back up the long driveway. The dog had moved closer to the house when I saw her hunched over again. She had to go for a record-breaking third time in one day.

I turned around and went back to the car for another baggie, then made my way up the driveway to the latest atrocity on the customer’s lawn, cleaned it up, then walked all the way down the driveway again. I never knew if the homeowner was watching or not, but I was SO embarrassed.

I don’t know why a dog has to hunch over at the worst possible times. It’s uncanny how they have such amazing timing. You can be with a dog all day long, let it out several times, see it actually go, and then when you’re at a nice place the dog manages to reach deep into its own bowels and produce a calling card on the nice people’s well-groomed lawn. It’s pretty remarkable, all things considered. The only worse thing is when your dog starts mounting the leg of the elderly lady next to you and she’s too old and wobbly to shake it off so she starts flailing at it with her purse, which only causes the dog to re-double its efforts. When those dogs get determined, you can’t shake them off either. You just have to ride it out.

I delivered my papers and the homeowner pretended not to have seen me criss-crossing her yard with baggies cleaning up little piles here and there. All things taken into consideration, everything came out well in the end. Just ask my dog.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On the Blogging Homestretch

I have written 326 blogs. My goal was 365, and I have been slacking lately because I’ve been busy and tired. But I’m jumping back on the horse and I’m going to make it to the finish line. And by that I mean, I’m going to get up right this minute and get myself a fistful of chocolate chips because I’ll need strength to proceed with this 327th blog tonight.

The reason is that I went with my husband on a 9 mile hike today. I am give out, as they say in the south. Worn to a frazzle. I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet. I’ve been dragged under something, I can’t remember what but there’s a saying that would definitely describe the throbbing in my thighs and the burning in my feet.

The hike was lovely, we just didn’t realize it was going to be so long. We thought it would be 4.5 miles total, which was doable. Turned out it was double. We also didn’t realize that it would be a steady incline without a break all the way to Ramona Falls. My husband was grunting and moaning like a constipated bear. He is not inclined toward inclines, you might say.

Boy those chocolate chips are good, but typing about them has brought about a major annoyance with my Word for Mac program. Oh, and BTW, I got a new MacBook Pro. I really like it except there isn’t a delete button. There is, but it only deletes backwards. There’s no way to delete forwards, which comes in handy and my deletion method of choice. Other than that I really like this laptop.

But the Word thing is annoying because sometimes when I start typing a word, some person’s name comes up and, as luck would have it, the name is some annoying individual that I served on a committee with years ago who I’d rather forget. In the case of the chocolate chips, a certain individual named “Chip ______” popped up. This person was universally despised by everyone on the high school snowboard team I was in charge of because he was the chairman of the board - a power junkie who thought he was cool and who made flippant decisions in the “because I said so” vein that annoyed me like someone coughing non-stop in a movie. Even though it has been four years since I’ve had to deal with this individual, thinking about him makes me want to pass gas.

Because of the way Word makes his name come up when I type chocolate chip (there it went again), I have to either stop talking about chocolate chips so I don’t remember him, or else go around passing gas like a bulldog. If you know how to turn those little pop-up window things off, please, PLEASE let me know.

What’s that I hear. My bed is calling me. “I’M COMING, JUST A SECOND.” I guess I’d better go now.

I have written 326 blogs. My goal was 365, and I have been slacking lately because I’ve been busy and tired. But I’m jumping back on the horse and I’m going to make it to the finish line. And by that I mean, I’m going to get up right this minute and get myself a fistful of chocolate chips because I’ll need strength to proceed with this 327th blog tonight.

The reason is that I went with my husband on a 9 mile hike today. I am give out, as they say in the south. Worn to a frazzle. I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet. I’ve been dragged under something, I can’t remember what but there’s a saying that would definitely describe the throbbing in my thighs and the burning in my feet.

The hike was lovely, we just didn’t realize it was going to be so long. We thought it would be 4.5 miles total, which was doable. Turned out it was double. We also didn’t realize that it would be a steady incline without a break all the way to Ramona Falls. My husband was grunting and moaning like a constipated bear. He is not inclined toward inclines, you might say.

Boy those chocolate chips are good, but typing about them has brought about a major annoyance with my Word for Mac program. Oh, and BTW, I got a new MacBook Pro. I really like it except there isn’t a delete button. There is, but it only deletes backwards. There’s no way to delete forwards, which comes in handy and my deletion method of choice. Other than that I really like this laptop.

But the Word thing is annoying because sometimes when I start typing a word, some person’s name comes up and, as luck would have it, the name is some annoying individual that I served on a committee with years ago who I’d rather forget. In the case of the chocolate chips, a certain individual named “Chip ______” popped up. This person was universally despised by everyone on the high school snowboard team I was in charge of because he was the chairman of the board - a power junkie who thought he was cool and who made flippant decisions in the “because I said so” vein that annoyed me like someone coughing non-stop in a movie. Even though it has been four years since I’ve had to deal with this individual, thinking about him makes me want to pass gas.

Because of the way Word makes his name come up when I type chocolate chip (there it went again), I have to either stop talking about chocolate chips so I don’t remember him, or else go around passing gas like a bulldog. If you know how to turn those little pop-up window things off, please, PLEASE let me know.

What’s that I hear. My bed is calling me. “I’M COMING, JUST A SECOND.” I guess I’d better go now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Marathon of Biblical Proportions

Missed me? I have to apologize right now for taking a week-long sabbatical. Don’t you just hate it when work interferes with doing what you want to do, ie write humor? I have found that being physically and mentally exhausted makes me more cranky and less funny. Who would have thought there would be a correlation?

I could use this as a whine and complain session, but you haven’t waited all this time to hear my woes and sorrows. Well, some of you may have. Some people seem to thrive on listening to others complain. They ask questions that keep disgruntled people talking. Questions like, “How have you been?” or “How’s work going?” These innocent prompts often lead to a virtual torrent of miseries of Biblical proportions.

In case you don’t know what Biblical proportions is, I’ll explain. In the Bible, you got your 40 days and 40 nights of rain, you got your turning all the people of whole towns into statues made of salt, you got your locusts covering the earth. These are things that trump every awful thing you could imagine – thusly, this term is used to describe something extraordinarily out of proportion.

I happened to use that saying this past weekend with my neighbor, Sunny. She was one of twenty people who volunteered with me to help at the Portland Marathon. It was raining cats and dogs – it was raining buckets – someone had opened the floodgates in the sky - in other words, it was a rain “of Biblical proportions.”

We were all bundled up with sweatshirts and raingear, hats and gloves. Our job was to give water and “ultima replenisher” to Marathoners and cheer them on to the finish line (we were at mile 25 of the 26 point something race - I could look it up but I don’t have internet right this instant). The whole thing was quite entertaining. First, they lined two big gray plastic garbage cans with a plastic bag and filled them with water from a fire hydrant. Then we dipped pitchers of water into the cans and filled hundreds of plastic cups. In the other can we mixed the Ultima replenisher, which probably tasted like sweetened ocean water. I didn’t try it because I’m not a huge fan of salty sweet liquids. The runners seemed to like it, though.

We’d hold our arms out with the cups and they’d run by and grab them. This would have been great fun if not for the fact that they grabbed the cups from the first couple of people in the line, and the rest of us stood there with one cup for so long the water got warm. I gave out two cups of water. I wasn’t on the line the whole time, though. My T-shirt said, “Area captain.” It had been made for Goliath – a Biblical character who was a giant. Since, as the story goes, David slew Goliath, he wasn’t there, so I got to wear the giant’s t-shirt, which came to my knees and kept getting longer as it got wetter. I walked along policing the line and trying to get people to stand behind the orange cones that were supposed to be the line. The problem was that these people were desperate to give the runners a drink. So they started easing out, and if you stayed behind the cone like you were supposed to, you’d be there all by yourself because everyone else had eased in. Pretty soon the runners were practically elbowing their way through the funnel of people trying to get them to take a cup of water, so I had to beat the crowd back to the cones over and over.

Had it been a sunny, warm day, I think the runners would have partaken of our offerings more. However, cold rain doesn’t seem to make people thirsty. Plus, many of them had on little water bottle packs so they didn’t need water. But that didn’t stop our enthusiasm. The high school students, including my daughter, cheered everyone on with spry and happy salutations that were quite clever. Some people had their names on their bibs (or jerseys), and some of the names were pretty fun – not your usual “Jason and Heather.” Some of them had names like, “Mom of 4” and “Billy Bob McGee.” So the kids were yelling, “Way to go Kokomo Joe,” and “You can do it, Betty Boop.”

We had about 12 tables set up with beverages because we’d gone to a meeting that told us to keep the tables full of water because we’d go through them so fast. We were supposed to stack them as much as 4 high with layers of cardboard in between so we wouldn’t run out. The cardboard got soaked so we had to abandon that after awhile, but we diligently refilled cups until rows upon rows upon rows of filled cups covered every square inch of every table. At the end of the race, we had to pour out many, many cups. This was a case of too much of a good thing. It was a veritable waste of Biblical proportions, but c’est la vie! Which is French and pronounced, “Parley voo Fron-say” and means, “The show’s over. Everyone go back to your homes and families. There’s nothing more to see here. Break it up, now. C’mon, keep moving, that’s right, keep moving.”

It was a good experience all the way around, except for the men whose nipples bled little waterfalls of red on their shirts – red blood all the way to their waists. Someone had warned me I’d see this. It’s caused by 26 point something miles of shirt bouncing and the associated chafing. If I were a man, I’d get me a man-bra in nothing flat. I would not have bleeding nipples, but that’s just me. We used to have a local band around here called Sweaty Nipples. I’ve got a story to tell about that one of these days.

I want to point out to you who have made it this far that I have not complained even though I’ve got plenty to complain about – i.e. lack of sleep etc. etc. but I will not bore you with that no matter how much of a sicko you are and how much you want to know my miseries. Maybe tomorrow, though.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why I'm No Longer Embarrassed

The beauty of getting older is that you don’t have to suffer through embarrassment anymore. I remember being in my teens and EVERYTHING embarrassed me. If I walked out of a bathroom with toilet paper clinging to my shoe, it was enough to make me want to commit suicide.
All I ever wanted to do back then was blend in and not make a spectacle of myself. I’d rather skip a class than walk in late. Embarrassment kept me from doing many things I wanted to do.
Now it doesn’t bother me a bit to straggle in late to something. I have been late to golf tournaments and either (1) begged a golf pro to give me a ride out to the hole or (2) run across several fairways trying to catch up with my team. I wave at everyone I pass and don’t think a thing about it except to muse about what they must be thinking.
Certainly it’s better not to get into situations where I’d be late, but now I see that it’s more important to play the game than it is to worry about what people are going to think of me. I know my team would rather have me there – I get lucky and hit a decent shot every now and then. I also know that just about anything can be forgiven if you are very kind to people.
I’m not embarrassed about what I say anymore either. One time I was in a parking lot around Christmas and I was waiting for someone to back up so I could get their space. It was someone really slow, and they eased out, taking an eternity. When they finally got out of the way and I was easing in, a car came out of nowhere and whipped into the space. A trashy woman and her tattooed boyfriend got out – she was driving. I yelled, “Hey, you took my space.” She yelled back, “I got there first.” I yelled, “But I was waiting for it.” And she yelled, “So?” And I yelled back, “You’re nothing but white trash.”
My daughter literally dived into the floorboard of my car. “Oh my gosh, Mom, please tell me you didn’t just yell across the parking lot and call someone white trash in front of all these people.”
“Well, she is,” I said.
My daughter is embarrassed about everything, and she was shocked at this. We had just been to church. “What if someone from church heard you?” she asked. She was stalling for time and didn’t want to get up, even though the white trashy woman had already waddled into the store. Her boyfriend at least had the decency to look sheepish and shrug his shoulders as if he agreed with me but what could he do?
Years ago I would never have confronted that woman, and maybe I’m white trash myself for doing it now, but I just don’t care. If someone I knew had heard me, I would have been mortified, I guess, but I would have made the best of it.
Maybe that’s the difference. Maybe it’s not so much the fear of embarrassment anymore, it’s knowing that, whatever happens, I’ll manage to get through either by being witty or silly or apologetic or whatever the circumstance calls for. Plus I’ve discovered as I’ve gotten older that people don’t pay that much attention to my goings-on. Nobody’s waiting around to see what I might do and pass judgment on it.
If I could give advice to teenagers, I’d say, “Don’t let fear of embarrassment hold you back from anything you want to do.” I’d have a whole ton of other advice, too, if any of them would ever listen, which they won’t. Especially if they’re related to me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Updates in Case You're Interested

The police are still getting speeders along the road where I got a ticket last week. They had pulled over two different cars when I went by today. I’ve witnessed them pulling over at least a dozen people just in the short time I pass there each day. As for me, I put my car on cruise control as I approach the area so I don’t accidently exceed the speed limit.

I hate that I have to be careful now. No rolling stops at stop signs, even when there’s not another car for miles. No more sudden U-turns when I’ve missed my street. I tell you, being on the lam (or trying to avoid the Law) is hard work. (In the south we call policemen “the Law.”)

I tell you what’s really hard work, though. It’s working full-time and then going home and having to be a mom. I got to be a stay home mom, and I didn’t know how good I had it. I knew I was lucky, but it wasn’t until I started this full-time job that I realized how hard working moms work.

Of course I had kid crises to deal with all day long, which could wear on your nerves, but I can’t imagine working a stressful job and then coming home and dealing with kids. I have a new respect for working mothers, although I would not have given up those stay-home years for all the gold in China. We used to feel a little inferior to those moms with their briefcases, but now I don’t envy them a bit. They must have been exhausted all the time.

This is off the subject, but my husband went to Costco and got a five-pound bag of Halloween candy. Oh my gosh, it’s all the best stuff, too. Milky Ways and M & M’s and Almond Joys and Hersheys and Resses cups. They’re in little sizes so it’s perfect. I can have a couple of those and feel like I’ve gotten a good dose of chocolate without busting a button. I was thinking about it because there are candy wrappers on my mouse pad. I wonder how long that bag will last. My daughter and her friends will mow through it like a bush hog.

My dog smells like Fritos. Honestly, her feet especially smell just like a bag of Fritos. Sometimes it makes me want to eat Fritos – having that smell around me all day because she’s a lap dog and I take her to work. She whines until I pick her up, and then I feel like I could use a little bag of Fritos to top off my morning.

Good gracious if I don’t turn into a big fat lard, it won’t be because I don’t have the opportunity. My husband also made peanut butter cookies AND a plum tart. I made pumpkin coffeecake to take to work. It’s all good, especially coupled with those little bags of chocolate delights.

Hungry yet? I am, and I’m full. Only in America do we eat for the taste of food even when we’ve stuffed ourselves with cheese enchiladas just a couple of hours ago. Boy, you know what sounds good? M & M’s and Fritos. Excuse me while I go fetch a nibble. I think I’ll head on to bed afterward, I need to get into my elastic waist pajamas and lie on my back. Oh the belly…moan...groan….ooooooohhhhh.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing

I talked with my cousin Nancy from Memphis a little while ago. She was telling me how the University of Memphis campus has changed since we were at school there.

“The clearest memory I have of the campus and buildings is the parking lot on the way to Central Towers,” I said.

“How come?” she asked.

“Because that was the place I saw that guy squatted down between two parked cars man-handling himself. That thing was sticking up in the air so long it would have scared a horse.”

“I think I saw that same guy. Did he have red hair?”

“I don’t know, all I saw was about 17 inches of man flesh bobbing up and down.”

“The guy I saw was behind a bush just going at it with that man root.”

“Man root?” I laughed.

“You’ve never heard it called ‘man root’?”

“Never have, but that’s what I’m going to call it from now on.”

“Well,” Nancy said, “you talk about long. When I went to spend some time with my dad in Trinidad one summer while he was in Naval Intelligence, he set me up to stay with this young couple who had a house. The husband worked with him. Anyway, this guy’s wife was this sweet little thing, innocent and really pretty. I liked her a lot, but he was a creep.”


“Yeah. His man root was so big you could see the mass of it in his shorts, like he had some kind of creature in there. It rolled around when he walked. Sometimes the tip would poke out the end of his shorts. I’m not kidding, it was like nothing you’ve ever seen.”

I don’t know why, but talking about this part of a man makes me laugh hysterically. I was nearly bent over double.

“One time we were all sitting in the living room, and his wife was in a chair where she had to twist her head away to see the TV. He took that thing out and was rolling it around in his lap, like he was stroking a pet. It was as big as one of those things kids float around on in a pool – one of those noodles. I could see him out of the corner of my eye. He was unbelievable. Biggest thing I’ve ever seen. Like something that should be in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

“What did you do?”

“I couldn’t tell my dad because he would have killed him. And I really liked his wife, so I didn’t want to make any trouble. I was in high school and didn’t know what to do. Luckily I had a girlfriend there and asked if I could stay with her and her family, so I switched places with my dad’s blessing and he never found out.”

We laughed some more about unbelievable sizes and getting out of crazy situations. What’s so odd is that just about every woman I know has a story similar to this. Let me go on record right now, and I think I speak for most women, that those things are not, generally speaking, an appealing sightt to women. Even Tarzan had enough sense to wear a loincloth. Men, please keep those things under lock and key. And I don’t care what you might think, bigger is not better. I would run like I was being chased by a swarm of hornets if something like that tried to cozy up to me. Oooo, gives me the eevy jeevies just thinking about it.

Scary Beavers and Ducks

What a fantastic day for football in Oregon. Both the Oregon Ducks and the Beavers won their games today. I got to enjoy the Beavers game in person.

I think it is amazing, however, that the two most famous colleges in this state could not come up with more fierce sounding mascots than Ducks and Beavers.

The Oregon State Beavers at least try to make their mascot seem ferocious. On the giant screen on the scoreboards, the cartoon Beaver has a chainsaw. When the other team gets a third down, the Beaver fires up the chainsaw and starts cutting down trees one after the other. He gets a determined look in his eyes.

At least the Beaver can get a little respect because, even though he’s a water dwelling varmint who makes his living gnawing on trees, he’s smart enough to use a piece of equipment to shred his opponents – at least psychologically. Whenever the chainsaw starts, the crowd roars and this, in turn, has a negative effect on the opposing team.

But what about the University of Oregon Duck? What’s he going to do to his adversaries? Quack them into begging for mercy? “Oh please Mr. Duck, please don’t quack at us any more.”

Or perhaps the Duck could slap them around with his webfeet. I’m just not seeing it. A duck does not bring fear and trembling into my heart.

That Duck is nothing to mess with, though. When the team scores, he gets down and does pushups for the number of points scored. He had to do 51 pushups today in the game against Stanford. The crowd counts along to keep him honest. That’s got to be one strong Duck, though he doesn’t go all the way down.

Speaking of going down, I’m taking a PE course and they wanted us to do a physical assessment on the first day. I thought I could do about 30 pushups, but I’ve apparently been doing them wrong because I could only do seven the way the PE teacher wanted them done. She made me go all the way down so that my elbows were at a 90-degree angle. Do you know how hard that is? It’s really, really hard, that’s how hard. Try it if you don’t believe me.

But where was I? Oh yeah, at the game today. We sat down in our seats and were smacked with a waft of BO that hit me like the breath from a garbage-eating dragon. It was really acrid. There was a gentleman sitting upwind of us who was as big as two men. My husband said, “I bet that’s where it’s coming from.” Now this might have been a mean thing to say, and perhaps it wasn’t nice to stereotype, but I think that was precisely where the foul odor was coming from.

“Have you got anything aromatic in your backpack?” I asked. My husband dug around but all he could find was a roll of Life Savers. I rubbed a cherry one just under my nose so I could smell cherry instead of armpit. It worked somewhat.

The day was fun, I got to each a ton of potato chips. I love chips. There can be a table full of exotic foods and I’ll just sit beside the potato chips and gorge on them the whole time. I’ll eat the exotic foods, too, but I’ll continue to graze on the chips all day and night. There’s just something about that salty crunch that I cannot get enough of even when my stomach aches from way too many.

Well, I guess that’s enough excitement for you for one day. I wouldn’t want to over-stimulate you with any more of my incredibly interesting goings-on. I’ve covered Beavers and Ducks, pushups and potato chips. I guess I’m going to have to live with the fact that Oregon’s mascots are jungle predators, but are peaceful little creatures minding their own business that represent the rain we’re famous for and the beautiful outdoors. But tell you what, you don’t want to mess with them, because they might be packing chainsaws – and their bite is worse than their quack. GO OREGON!!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane

A snake in the grass gave me a speeding ticket yesterday. It was a sting operation. Three motorcycle cops were literally hiding in the bushes behind a fence just past reduced speed sign. They were lighting up the evening sky catching one innocent speeder after another.

I was totally caught by surprise and unaware that my foot was pressing harder on the gas pedal that it should have been. I was talking on my cell phone (hands-free of course – it’s the law), eating an apple, and trying to dig something out of my briefcase when, to my complete surprise, I saw the flashing blue and red lights behind me. No telling how long he’d been following me.

I figured I could sweet-talk him out of the ticket because that’s worked a time or two before, but he was Mr. Business-Policeman.

“Why, officer,” (spoken with a thick southern accent), “I can’t imagine why you pulled me over.”

“You were doing 52 in a 35,” he said. “License and registration, please.”

“Surely I wasn’t going that fast,” I said like a damsel in distress.

“Don’t call me Shirley. 52’s what I clocked you at,” he said, and walked back to his motorcycle.

I started begging the good Lord to let me off of this ticket, but before I got to the part where I would have starting making promises, he appeared beside my window and handed me a computerized ticket as long as a scroll.

“Here’s your court date,” he said, nodding somewhere toward the middle of the thing. “Everything you need to know is on there.” Then he handed me a business card. A BUSINESS CARD! As if to say, “It was a pleasure doing business with you, if you need anything else, please don’t hesitate to call me!”

I wish I’d had one handy to give back to him. “Here, Mr. Officer, er, I mean, Mr. Thorsen, did I pronounce that right? If you ever feel the urge to give someone a ticket, be sure to call me first.” Or perhaps, “Here’s my card – let’s do lunch sometime, but you’ll have to buy since I’m, umm, $190 poorer since we met just a few minutes ago.”

His card has the lovely seal of the City of Portland, plus his name and badge number and all his contact information. Lovely. I can call him at home at 3:00 a.m. and tell him what I think about his ticket.

Now you’re thinking, “She was speeding, she deserved the ticket. What’s her problem?” Yes, you are thinking that. I can read minds. But admittedly, not always, or I would have read that policeman’s mind when he was thinking, “Here comes another sucker with a lead foot. I’m gonna surpass my quota of tickets today. What idiots. We can’t pull them over fast enough.”

I did deserve the ticket. I was speeding. I’m not contesting that. I’m not even contesting getting caught, although it would have been a lot nicer if I hadn’t been. I’m just marveling about the personal card. I don’t get it. What am I supposed to do with it?

So next time you’re speeding down the road and see those lights in your mirror, fish a business card out and hand it to the policeman and see what he does. I’d do it but I don’t plan to be pulled over again. I can’t afford it, and I can’t even guess what my insurance is going to do...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Attack of the Wiener Dogs

My girlfriend, Laurie, called and left this message: “I got attacked by a pack of dachshunds.” I pictured a bunch of cute little wiener dogs jumping on her legs, trying to get close enough to lick her. I laughed when I heard the message.

Her supervisor also laughed when Laurie called to say she’d be late for work, and the doctor laughed when she called him to see if she needed to come in because there were several wounds and the bleeding wasn’t stopping.

When I finally got a hold of her, she said she had many wounds, her pants were torn, they practically tore off the end of her little finger, and one managed to bite her in the armpit, probably as she was bending down trying to knock them away with her purse.

Turns out these are forty pound dogs bred to be badger hunters. I was telling my daughter about it. She said, “Why would anyone breed a dog to bite and attack?”

This is, I think, a very good question. Why turn a sweet little wiener dog into an attack beast? I don’t think I’ve seen many badgers here in Portland, and if there were any, wouldn’t it just be easier to shoot the thing if you wanted to get rid of it?

Badgers are nothing to mess with, I can tell you that. They are foul-tempered and vicious. I’ve seen them out hiking a couple of times when I was way out in the middle of nowhere – like in North Dakota. I think it would be extremely rare to be in a situation where you’d come across a badger and need the services of a badger-attacking dog right at that time. A badger will go back in his hole if you just mind your own business. At least that’s what I observed. Keeping a biting dog around for years just in case this contingency came up is like buying an air conditioner in the Arctic – just in case one day got hot.

The doc didn’t stitch Laurie up because it might keep the infection in the wounds, though he said a few of them were certainly deep enough. He made her stand on a pad in his office because she was bleeding on the floor.

Another thing. You have to wonder why a person would breed dogs whose peckers drag the ground every step they take. Those things are like kickstands – getting hung up on cracks in the sidewalk and taking the dog aback. No wonder they want to bite.

I love dachshunds, but these forty-pound bullies are an accident waiting to happen, and my friend happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is not a funny story, but I thought I’d share it because it’s unusual. And as a warning that little dogs have the potential to be bloodthirsty killers given the right circumstances. Just ask Laurie.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Miss Misery

Miss me? I have been working my patootie off! Seriously, I’ve lost 5 pounds. I’m on the “Hard Work Diet.” Very effective.

I think someone is trying to tell me something – like I should be getting away from electronics and getting back to nature or back to bed.

Here’s what’s been going on in my life:

1. No internet again at my job. I did get it up for awhile but then it went down. I wonder if there’s Viagra for wireless connections?

2. I have a tech who is charging me $100 per hour so that he can explain to me the reasons I don’t have internet and he’ll have to come back tomorrow to fix it.

3. My Mac computer at home, the really nice and expensive iMac 24-incher, has dark streaks on it like it’s a worn out Etch-A-Sketch. I tried to rub one off but it’s under the screen. This does not bode well – and they’re growing like a ghost is using my screen to make lines and boxes.

4. The printers at work don’t work. Actually, all of them work except the one everyone wants to use. Everyone blames me.

5. Yesterday I spilled water on my daughter’s cell phone and it started going haywire. She ran through the house screaming, “Where’s the rice?” She buried the phone in a bowl of dry rice and it worked today. The rice absorbs the moisture. This is an old geeks’ tale but it does seem to work – the only thing working electronically around me – probably because it wasn’t mine.

Okay, that’s all except that I brought some work home to print and I got it half done and my toner went out. It’s been saying it would for weeks, but I didn’t believe it. Now that I really need these copies, I can’t get them because Xerox isn’t open at night and I didn’t plan ahead. Those “toner low” signals start about 2 weeks after you put in a new cartridge. How was I supposed to know tonight was the night, after all these months, that the toner actually did need to be replaced?

Yes, I’m as bored as you are about all this technical stuff. And since I must drive across town in the morning and meet that pricey tech at 6:00 a.m., I will bid you goodbye.

Oh, and I just watched Tosh.O again. Such a fun show. That’s what I needed tonight - to see how miserable the rest of the world is. Not that it takes any of my misery away, but you know the saying, “Misery loves Tosh Point Oh!”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Why I Feel So Stupid

I realize we are in the dark ages when it comes to technology. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING works like it’s supposed to. I have neglected this blog for three days because of technology. That I can write this blog and you can read it because of technology is neither here nor there.

I have been sold technology that does not function, and the techs representing the people who sold it to me don’t know any more about it than I do.

You are thinking I’m about as dumb as a screen door on a submarine. Yes you are. I can feel it. You think, “How could that ditz fall for all these people making all these promises that are apparently all lies just to get her to purchase technology that will not only solve her problem but will make matters worse?”

I feel like someone left a bag full of crap on my front porch and lit it on fire, and I ran out and stomped it out and then realized I’d pounded crap into the ridges in my shoes so deep it would take a sandblaster to get out, and then the doorbell rang again and I ran out and stomped the fire out again, and then the doorbell rang again. Right now I’m sitting here with crap I’ve tracked all through the house because I’m too exhausted to take off my shoes. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that the internet where I work is gone, thanks to a smooth salesman from the phone company that rhymes with PEST. Then I got wireless internet and OH BOY it’s so fast on ONE of my computers. Unfortunately, I’ve got EIGHT computers that need to be on the internet.

I was told the new device would serve eight, and silly me, I believed it. When I could only get a signal on one, I called the tech support people at a company whose name rhymes with PIMP except their name has a “t” on the end. They said, in the first place, it could only provide internet to seven computers at the same time. In the second place, everyone would have to log in and out all the time. I kept saying, “Are you serious? We can’t just turn on our computers and go on the internet?” Nope. We’d have to go through a convoluted process that I kept making her repeat because I just couldn’t believe it. She started getting a little cranky, like not only was I a stupid oaf, but I had no memory and why did my call have to end up with her?

I’m pretty tech savvy about most things. I can set up wireless networks and troubleshoot computers. I know my way around Macs and PC’s. When I talk to these people, I ask all the right questions, specifically, “Now exactly how do I access the printers that are on our wireless network? This wireless internet still lets me access all my printers, right?”

“Oh yes, you’ll still be able to access your printers. No problem!” Well, it’s no problem as long as you don’t use your wireless printer and wireless internet AT THE SAME TIME. One interferes with the other. It is virtually impossible, according to the hour-long conversation with that tech woman, to print something off the internet. Hmmm, that’s not what the salesperson told me, and you’d think he would have known that.

I’m convinced that all salespeople nowadays must first pass courses titled, “Principles of Unethical Salesmanship 101,” “How to Sleep Like a Baby Knowing You’ve Made A Commission on a Product that Will Keep the Customer Awake at Night Worrying About How to Make It Work,” and “How to Speak Very, Very Fast When Going Over the Fine Print,” and let’s not forget, “How to Fool Even Smart, Tech Savvy People, Especially When They Are Desperate for a Solution.”

I would write more, but honestly, I have many, many tech support people to call today. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, you’ll know I’m still on hold while they check something (tech speak for “while I consult the manual that will tell me what ridiculous answer to give this woman so she’ll hang up and leave me the ef alone!”)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beware of PEST

This is going to be short and lazy tonight because I’ve had one heck of a day.

It was the best of days and it was the worst of days.

The good part – we got those freaking phones fixed (see the last two blogs full of saucy griping).

The bad part – we lost internet service. By that I mean we no longer have internet at our office, and it was MY FAULT. Kindof.

A telephone company whose name rhymes with PEST called and said they could get us fast internet (we’re in a dead zone and have the slowest internet known to man). I said, “Sign us up!” I authorized them to switch our phones and internet via Fax, then never heard from them again. I kept calling the number they gave me, then finally called a number I found on PEST’s website. “We can’t find any order. I guess it didn’t go through when they discovered that we can’t provide internet there.”

“We can give you cheaper phones, though,” they continued, and I said, “I’ll think about it but I have to make sure my old company can do internet without the phones and I’ll get back with you.” That was about a week and a half ago.

Today we didn’t have internet, so I did all the troubleshooting stuff and then called out internet person. “You are no longer our customer,” he said. “PEST took over your service today.”

So I called PEST and they said, “Oops, we don’t know how that happened but we can’t give you any internet. Too bad, so sad.”

So I called our old company back and they said, “Sure, we can hook it back up but it will take ten to fifteen business days, AND we’ll charge you $99 to hook up the internet plus $45 for each of your phone lines.”

So I called PEST back and said, “You have to get me internet somehow or the other.

Two hours of holding and transferring got me this: “We can set you up on dial-up which will cost $1,050 to set up and you’ll be up and running in two days.”

When your business does everything on the internet, dial-up is not an option. Neither is waiting two to three weeks to get your old, slow internet back - and pay a boatload for it.

Just so you know, I had already called every internet provider in town a few weeks ago trying to get faster internet, and no one had service in our area. We’re like the black hole of internet service. Like no life exists in our little cubbyhole of industrial Portland. We’re a virtual dessert of internet. The Bermuda Triangle of internet.

I tried tears on PEST but their hands were tied. They were very sorry. There was nothing they could do. They were very sad they had stolen our phone lines and internet but there wasn’t anything they could do except try to expedite us getting back to our old service, which, as I mentioned earlier, said it would take an eternity even if we expedited. They wished me a great evening.

So I called Sprint. I can say the word Sprint because I think they are the good guys. They have 4G in our area. They can get us internet in two days. They will not charge us our collective arm and leg to start the service. I guess I didn’t call them before after being told over and over that we had no service from so many other companies and I gave up, plus in the meantime that “PEST Winback Program” guy called me with his empty promises of faster internet.

After 6 hours on the phone, not leaving the office until 8 p.m., a splitting headache, and a burning ear that is still red, I hope the problem is solved. If I can bear the resentment, scorn, dirty looks, sighs of disgust, chagrin of my co-workers, complaints from our customers, and possible firing from my boss, I may survive this fiasco for the next two days until the alleged internet thingy comes from Sprint.

If I had a giant can of RAID I know a big PEST I'd use it on - those lousy internet thieves.

PS PEST claims the guy who sold me my new internet – the company I faxed the order to with the PEST logo on it – was not from PEST but from an aftermarket provider. Yeah, right. It’s like my kids pointing to each other – “he did it!” “No, she did it!” Who can you believe when everyone looks guilty?

Tomorrow Has GOT to Be a Better Day

Oh my goodness what a day. Things unraveled like the world’s largest ball of yarn being rolled down Mt Everest. Like the hem of a skirt when that one thread gets pulled and all of a sudden the whole hem starts coming loose and hanging down about three-quarters of the way around and the little thread drags on the ground as you walk down the hall. That’s the kind of day it was.

First, the phones rang non-stop. For the most part, each phone call was someone wanting something in the tiniest, most exacting detail, so that the receptionist was tied up and couldn’t get the other calls. The other calls called back which caused more phone calls.

Then the copier ran out of magenta toner and went on strike. It refused to produce even mundane black and white copies, like some diva who wanted everything just so or she wasn’t going to go on stage. No problem, because there was a nice pretty box of magenta toner sitting under the yellow and cyan boxes. I moved those and picked up the magenta. It was so lightweight I thought, “This feels empty.” It was!

I’ve only been at this job for about a month, and how was I to know that the previous person stacked two full toner boxes on one empty one to produce the optical illusion that there was, in fact, plenty of toner and no one should worry their pretty little head about it running out? It looked like we were set for a long time.

Come to find out, the toner had to be ordered online, and that takes a while to be delivered. No one would admit online how long it would take to arrive. One company said it usually ships in two days, but if you continued reading you discovered that it was two days AFTER the 1-2 days it would take to process and the 1-2 days it would take to process some more.

I didn’t let this waste of a morning trying to find toner get me down because I had the phone company trainer coming in the afternoon to teach us how to use the phone system. It is so complicated and no one knows how to program the phones, that we were all pretty excited. But the guy who came was over an hour late for his appointment, and he was determined to explain all kinds of phone programming things to us that we had no interest in learning. This phone has its own website, and there are about 150 pages of options that make absolutely no sense to anyone who is not a technician trained in the operation of the phones, and even this guy was scratching his head with the dumb vacant look of a man looking at an Einstein equation on a blackboard. He cocked his head from side to side like a dog.

I finally said, “We just need the phones to ring and go to one voicemail area, AND we want to change the message to say, “Leave a message after the beep,” instead of saying, “if you want sales, press 108, if you want accounting, press 147, for customer service, press 896, if you want cream with your coffee, press 9432, if you want….” Customers had to listen for about 4 hours in order to leave a message, and then, since no one knew how to operate the phones, the messages just went out to space. This is a very convenient way to do business if your end desire is to lose all your customers, which I’m beginning to suspect was the former manager’s intention, or drive his replacement crazy - how else would you explain that dummy toner box?

The phone tech guy told me the instructions and I wrote them down, but before I could test it he had to leave because by now he was 3 hours late for his next appointment. We tried to record an outgoing message but the phone wouldn’t let us. So we called our phone company and they gave us the same instructions, and were baffled when the message wouldn’t record. Then they promise to call back and did not.

Meantime, I tested the phone by calling it from my cell phone, and I got the long, long message but after waiting for 20 minutes for it to cycle from beginning to end, it said, “That is not a valid mailbox,” and started the whole recording all over again.

I abandoned the phones because it was back to school night for my daughter, and I ended up being a little late. We were supposed to go from class to class and meet the teachers for about 10 minutes. I got on the wrong schedule somehow and was going to the right teachers but at the wrong time. I discovered this when one teacher kept looking at me oddly as he was going over the course (he knows me from my daughter’s track meets). Finally he started saying stuff about this Advanced Algebra class and I thought he was off his rocker. This was supposed to be Calculus, except I was one period off.

There were many more tragedies and mishaps today, but if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’d say you’ve been through enough. Tomorrow HAS to be better or there will be some phone and copier assassinations at work. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Funk and Wagnall Get Their Hackles Up

At work we have a phone system that none of us can figure out. The phones are so complicated we can barely answer them, much less program them.

I’m the oldest one in the office, and I rely on the young whippersnappers to figure this stuff out. However, they’re pretty happy to ignore the phones altogether and plead ignorance.

I rooted around in the file cabinet until I found a folder labeled, “Phones,” hoping I could read up on the instructions. The manual is bigger than a Funk and Wagnall dictionary. Not really, I just wanted to say the words Funk and Wagnall.

Can you imagine what it would be like to go through life with a name like Funk? When we were kids my dad wouldn’t let us say the word. He thought it was nasty. “I don’t want to hear you saying that nasty word again,” he’d say.

So if my best friend were the daughter of Mr. Funk, I couldn’t introduce her to my dad without getting my mouth washed out with soap.

“Dad, this is my friend, Stacey Funk.”

“I told you NOT to say that word, and now I’m getting the soap. Will you excuse us a minute, Stacey?”

This would have been very awkward. Sure, my dad was quirky, but there were probably other dads around the country who found that word offensive. What would that have been like to have a name that raised dads’ hackles?

BTW, what is a hackle? Spell check must know because it did not underline it. I’m going to ask Funk and Wagnall.

Well, they don’t know because they’re deceased and their progeny sold the encyclopedia and it went out of print in 1997 according to Wikipedia. I did find out that back in the day people used “Funk and Wagnall” to get laughs on such TV shows as Laugh In (“look that up in your Funk and Wagnall”) and Johnny Carson, (Johnny Carson, when he was playing Carnac the Magnificent on The Tonight Show frequently said the answers he was reading with his mind through a sealed envelope had been "hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar under Funk & Wagnalls' porch since noon today.")

As interesting as that is, it still doesn’t answer the pressing question: What is a hackle? I’ll have to ask Google again since Funk and Wagnall can’t respond from the grave.

Oh my gosh, you want to hear something nasty, look at these definitions I swiped directly and intact from The Phrase Finder when I looked up hackles: NOUN: 1. Any of the long, slender, often glossy feathers on the neck of a bird, especially a male domestic fowl. 2. hackles The erectile hairs along the back of the neck of an animal, especially of a dog. 3a. A tuft of cock feathers trimming an artificial fishing fly. b. A hackle fly.

Boy, you never know what you’ll find on the internet. A seemingly innocent word being defined with words such as erectile and cock. It’s shocking. What is this world coming to?

Funk and Wagnall are probably rolling over in their graves. And my dad, his hackles would definitely be in an erectile position and he’d be taking soap and washing Google’s mouth out with it.

And still, after all that, I don’t know any more about answering the phones at work than I knew an hour ago when I started this. Why do they build all those features into things if they make the manuals too big to lift out of a file cabinet? The whole thing is one big Funked up mess if you ask me, and I think Wagnall would agree, and so would my dad.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Windshield and the Bug

My friend, Mac, has this saying: “Some days you’re the windshield and some days you’re the bug.”

It’s a good quote, I like the sound of it, but I’m not sure what it means. Obviously being the bug is not good. We’ve all seen what a combination of bug and windshield leads to – a Dijon mustard splat.

It’s the windshield part that’s confusing. Let’s analyze this, shall we? A windshield provides a view OF the world with protection FROM the world. It not only doesn’t let in bugs, it doesn’t let in rain, sleet, hail, snow rocks (for the most part) homeless peddlers, apples and other projectiles thrown by adolescent hoodlums, and so forth.

So we could say that windshields are protective views of the world. But what’s that got to do with me? Do I want to be a protective view of the world? Is that a good, or bad, or indifferent thing?

The answer to this question is, I’m afraid, more complex than we have time to explore at this point in our lives. Which is why I’m not sure this is a good saying.

Since Mac reads this blog, I have to somehow make this into something positive or delete it before I post it. If you are reading this right now, you’ll know that I decided my half page investment of writing to this point was worth continuing on rather than starting from scratch. I think many inventions and good things have come from people simply not wanting to start all over, who forge ahead even when they didn’t know where they were going or what they would end up with when they got there.

I wanted to give an example of someone who persevered even while they were lost, so I Googled, “lost celebrities,” and came up “Long Lost Celebrity Twins.” Pretty funny little slideshow – here’s the address:

Where were we, ah, yes, “To be or not to be a windshield, that is the question.” I’m thinking in all cases, it’s definitely better not to be the splatted bug. This is a given, so we can conclude that if the choice is windshield or bug, everyone except suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots would prefer to be the windshield.

However, I guess the question is not whether you want to be a bug or windshield, but rather whether this is a good saying, and this is where I’m having my problem.

There are many sayings that are very clear in their meaning. The one that is pinging my brain over and over right this very minute is: “It’s better to be pissed off than to be pissed on.” This saying makes perfect sense. Sure, you might be angry at any given time, but being angry is a lot better than having someone make water on you. In other words, there are worse things that can happen to you than just being angry, so lighten up and see the silver lining in that cloud, plus you’re annoying all the rest of us with your little anger temper tantrum.

Here’s another one: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This makes total sense. If you find a guy name Will, he’ll show you where your blog is going, and you won’t be lost just typing mindless words that could be misconstrued along the path like the bread crumbs of little children that get eaten by birds so they get lost until they find a gingerbread house with a mean witch and, uh, or perhaps the saying could mean just keep trying and you’ll get where you want to go.

So Mac, I’m sorry but today I’m neither the windshield nor the bug. I’m finished with this blog post. That’s what I am. I don’t know how I got here exactly, but I knew I’d be here in the end, because Will showed me the way by saying, “Oh piss on it, you’ll get there, just keep typing,” and by golly, he was right.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hemorrhoidic Flaggers

I had to go to the post office today. A few blocks from it I saw this big humongous flashing sign that said “CAUTION.”

“Oh no,” I thought. “What mysterious, horrible fate awaits me ‘round yonder bend?” I braced myself for a giant pit in the road or 10-car pile up.

It turned out to be four public employees holding Stop signs at a four-way intersection that already had four stop signs. That huge “Caution” was to alert me that a few yards down the road, humans would be holding stop signs instead of the existing signs that had done the job for years all on their own.

I know I’ve written about this before. There is road construction going on that is causing a detour through this four-way stop. The geniuses responsible for traffic during the construction felt that the detoured motorists could manage the stop themselves and would need the assistance of four full-time employees with benefits to get the job done.

Apparently it is so confusing to the general public that they’ve taken cardboard and taped it to the existing stop signs in an attempt to keep people from stopping when they need to proceed through the intersection.

This is no easy feat, because we drivers know there are stop signs under there. The octagonal sides stick out around the square cardboard. We are all used to stopping there. The man holding a sign that says, “Slow” just confuses the hell out of us. We have been given tickets, very expensive tickets, on more than one occasion for going “slow” at a stop sign without actually making a complete “stop.” How can we trust this man? What are his credentials? We are not sure.

So even though a man is holding a stop sign on a stick and it’s turned to the “slow” side, we can see that it’s shaped like a stop sign, and it’s right beside a real stop sign, albeit tackily covered in scrap cardboard. Therefore, this morning, I approached cautiously (heeding the aforementioned big flashing sign) and when I got to the REAL stop sign, I stopped automatically out of habit.

The man with the sign did not like this one bit. He bent down and looked into my passenger window and signaled me frantically to keep rolling, making his whole arm go round and round, as if I were the one-thousandth person to come to a complete stop already that morning. His impatience with my inability to comprehend the simple directions on his “slow” sign was immensely evident. His eyes were bugging out and he had a look of “you stupid woman” on his face.

I looked all around as if I was afraid someone from the other three stop areas might run into me if I proceeded, and this irritated him to the point that I think he might have given himself hemorrhoids from the strain of trying to get me to proceed through the intersection. There were no cars within a thousand miles of the place, so I’m not sure what the big frigging hurry was, but I was absolutely in the wrong and he wanted to make sure I knew it.

I was secretly getting obscene pleasure from the whole ludicrous thing. These employees have been there for months doing a poor job of what the stop signs are well equipped to do. I’ve seen them stop people when no one was coming, like some control freak with a little power and no way to exercise it except to stop law-abiding citizens or force them not to stop, whatever his whimsy dictates at the time while he tries to make me feel bad because I wasn’t able to run the stop sign fast enough to suit him.

But enough of that. Before I forget, I saw a great show on TV yesterday. It’s called Tosh.0 (pronounced Tosh point oh in case you care). I saw it on Comedy Central. This Tosh guy gets a bunch of videos off of YouTube and then makes fun of them.

For instance, there was a Middle Eastern wedding video and a guy was toying with a pistol and I guess he put it down on a table or handed it to a kid, but somehow the kid, who was about 3 or 4 years old, got the gun and tried to hold it like a real gun. and it’s kindof pointing at the man’s big fat belly and then, oops, the gun fires. You see the flash of yellow flames come out the end, a loud bang, and a big black circle on the man’s white shirt just before he bends down and the camera goes off. Now that’s good entertainment right there. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Subway Heat

My daughter and I got Subway sandwiches tonight. Both of us ordered every vegetable, including those blazing fireballs, the jalapeño peppers.

I love those things, but as soon as I eat one I start coughing violently. The heat burns my throat with such irritation, I can’t even stop coughing long enough to drink cold water.

“Mom, you always do this,” my daughter said with disgust. “You always eat that hot stuff and gag for ten minutes.”

“But I love it so,” I said a few minutes later when I’d stopped.

I had them put the entire assortment of vegetables, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, mustard, cheese – everything you could think of, and all I could taste were those jalapeños.

“I don’t know why I get all this stuff, all I can taste is the jalapeños,” I said. “And they’re burning my mouth so much it hurts.”

“Why do you do it?” she asked with all the interest of a teenager bored with her mother’s foolish habits but trained to be polite.

“I love them,” I said, like some junkie justifying my habit.

The bad thing about getting ALL the vegetables is that there is no physical way they can fit between two buns. The guy finishes loading the sandwich up and flips the top bun over and it just sticks straight up in the air – it makes an “L” shape. He has to bear down with both hands – hard – to get the top to go halfway over the sandwich. Then he wraps it really quickly so it doesn’t fly open and stuffs it into a plastic sleeve to further insure its stability.

When I try to open the wrap, lettuce springs out like confetti from one of those little pop bottle things you aim at people on New Year’s Eve. Chunks of green pepper and onions cascade to my lap in a veggie waterfall. The liquid ooze of all that vinegar and oil and mustard smushed tomatoes drips out the bottom. If I don’t put a plate under there, and I usually don’t because I’m sitting in front of the TV, my lap looks like somebody tossed a salad on it.

Subway needs to quit carrying those salt and vinegar potato chips. Those things are too good. While the guy was making my sandwiches, I grabbed a bag and scarfed down all 230 calories before he was done. Jared would be so ashamed of me. Man oh man are those things addictive. My mouth was puckered from the salty acid of the vinegar, but it was worth it.

I believe I had better hit the hay right now because, after consuming all of those things so late at night, I’m probably going to have the WORST nightmares. But it was worth it. My my my, the little culinary delights in life make the days bright and the nights a fright, but that’s all right. And so, goodnight.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Witchteria Lane

I played a really fun game tonight with some girlfriends called Mexican Train. Don’t ask me to explain it because I wasn’t paying much attention. Fortunately we had Susan at our table and she told every one of us what to do so we didn’t have to think a bit.

The evening was fun except for one thing. Patty’s house, where we had it, is on a flag lot down a narrow lane. She had said, “Whatever you do, don’t park in the lane because the neighbor thinks she owns it and she’ll get really mad.”

I had to work late so I rushed over there about an hour late. I hoped I could park in Patty’s driveway and not have to walk all the way from the street, but unfortunately there was no room in her driveway, and nowhere to turn around, so I had to drive the few extra feet up to the neighbor’s driveway to turn around.

I tried to do it quickly, but she was fast. I saw her coming out her door, but I pretended I didn’t see her and continued my getaway. She came right up my car and tapped on the passenger window. I rolled it down and said, “Hi!” all bright and cheery.

“Could you please tell Patty I don’t want any more of you people turning around in my driveway. There have been 5 or 6 cars already.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said, turning on my southern charm. “I’m really late so I know I’ll be the last one.”

“Well, we’re expecting company tonight and I need this lane clear and I don’t want anyone else coming up here.”

Before turning I noticed a ladder next to the hedge, and an extension cord running from the house, across the driveway, to a set of electric pruners lying beside the ladder. Who trims their hedge at 6:45 at night if they’ve got company on the way? I decided not to bring this up because the woman gave me the creeps.

“Well, you can be sure that I’m the last one here because no one is ever as late as I am.”

“Well, you be sure to tell Patty what I said.” Then she looked at me and said, “I think I’d better go over there and tell her myself.”

I could just see this half crazy woman with her black flashing eyes and unnaturally black hair twitching and blinking as she cussed sweet little Patty out in front of all of us. I wasn’t going to let that happen. Not on my watch. For one thing, this group of women would have wadded her up and stuffed into the garbage can. We’re pretty feisty, and I know of couple of them would not have been quiet during the tirade. The police would be called. Someone would go to jail.

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I cooed. “Trust me, I have always been the very last one to arrive every single time, and I can guarantee that no one else will come.”

She flashed those black eyes at me and I could see that she thought I was no better than liver bile. I rushed out of her lair before she had a chance to get the hedge trimmers after me.

I found a parking spot a million miles away. I ran across the street carrying my brownies and a bottle of red wine, and when I turned into the lane I saw that the old hag had put that ladder right in the middle of the lane so no one could go on her property.

Now there’s a welcoming sight for her alleged company.

I don’t know why people have to be so cranky. If I hadn’t been so late, maybe I would have climbed out of my car and said, “Well since you don’t want me to turn around in your drive I guess I’ll just leave my car here and have it towed.” Then I could have CALLED her a toad. “Listen up, you old warty toad, get some civility and quit acting like a badger.” But I didn’t. I smiled and told her to enjoy her evening left her to her private fuming. Silence is often the best way to deal with toads.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Key West's Moons

I wrote about how bad our priest sang yesterday and didn’t sleep a wink. I felt guilty. Tonight I went to a volunteer meeting, and afterward one of the moms came up to me and said, “I saw you sitting way across the church on Sunday. Did you see me gasp when the priest started singing?”

“Oh my gosh,” I said, “Can you believe his voice?”

“It’s horrible,” she said. “I gasped out loud, and I know I had a look of horror on my face. Then I saw you across the church and you were laughing and trying to cover it up.”

“His voice is shocking,” I said. We commiserated a few minutes more about the torture of hearing such a well-spoken man sing like a rooster with his leg being gnawed on by an iguana.

I still feel a little guilty talking about him, but on the other hand, this now appears to be common knowledge and therefore is simply an observation and should not carry with it a stigma of guilt. That’s my theory anyway.

Not to change the subject, but I went to an open house yesterday afternoon and met a nice, older lady who has retired to Naples, Florida, just a few miles from Ft. Myers Beach where I spent a summer with two girlfriends when I was 19. My friend Mary and I decided to drive to Key West in her ancient Opal Cadet, which sounds like some whimsical car. We had cool names for cars back then. Austin Healy. GTO’s, Mustang, T-birds. Good, spicy names.

We were driving on a Florida backroad when we came up on a pickup truck carrying three ruffians. They stood up in the truck, which was going pretty slow, and started making obscene gestures. We hung back, but they were going so slow we would have had to stop for them to get out of sight.

They gave each other a look and pretty soon all three of them had dropped their shorts and started mooning us at practically point blank range. We had nowhere else to look! We slowed down almost to a stop, but so did they.

“Get us out of here, Mary,” I screamed.

“I didn’t drive all the way down here to have to stare at three hairy assholes,” Mary said. She downshifted that little Opal into second and started to pass. They sped up. She shifted into third and we started making headway. It was a straight, narrow road and we would have been doomed if someone had been coming in the other lane, but I don’t think Mary would have slowed down. She would have let the oncoming car run off the road. Her face was red and her knuckles were white on the steering wheel. She had an East Tennessee anger that was boiling like a teakettle.

I started rocking back and forth to help the car’s momentum, coaxing it to go faster. When we were neck and neck with the driver, he turned and gave us a grin that showed all eleven of his stained yellow teeth. These were the kind of guys who would run you in the ditch and laugh as they deflowered your maidenhood.

“Give it some more gas,” I screamed.

“I’ve got it on the floor,” she yelled. I rocked harder. We finally got far enough ahead that we could pull in front of the truck. Simultaneously we threw our hands out the window and let our fingers do the talking.

They didn’t like that and started gaining on us. I rocked faster. Mary started rocking too. “Come on, baby, come on,” we begged.

The chase only lasted a couple of minutes before the farm boys gave up and went back to their cow pies.

What does this have to do with the singing priest? If you figure it out, let me know.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who's the judge of Judgmental?

I have written about how tired I am of this current fashion trend of showing vast amounts of cleavage. There are some of you who may think that I’m just jealous. You’re right. I can have a neckline plunge to my waist without any visible valley, much less actual boob-produced cleavage.

Perhaps this is why I get so TIRED of seeing cleavage all the time. And why today at church was a good day, because for some reason I didn’t see any at all. None. Caput. Zip. Nil. Nada.

I can’t tell you how happy this made me. The people with the most cleavage are overweight women, women who’ve had a boob job, and women wearing inhumane brassieres that make boobs look like they’re being squeezed out the top like a couple of squished water balloons I personally find them more distractive than attractive. It’s rare to see just plain natural cleavage from a well-endowed, normal-sized person.

So it was a dull morning in church since I didn’t have cleavage to scoff at. It was probably a good thing, because the priest lectured us about being judgmental of the pastor in Florida who wants to burn the Quran.

This is a tough one for me, because this guy would be perfect to write a humor blog about. I could write something like, “What kind of nincompoop thinks destroying someone’s religious guidelines is going to have any effect on terrorist except to make them angry or justified and – duh – what good is going to come of that?”

This is what I’d write, but now I can’t really do it because the sermon is still fresh in my mind. The thing that bothers me about this kind of live-and-let-live, forgive-and-forget type of attitude is that it completely obliterates any kind of gossip. Where does a person draw the line when talking about people’s foibles?

For instance, if I want to poke fun at someone’s cleavage, that’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it, right? But if I talk about it to someone else, and describe that cleavage as sagging below the waist on a fat woman with a plunging neckline stretched out by 80 pounds of bosom, is this being judgmental and therefore evil?

And if I mention that this same priest, who has such a rich, full, commanding voice, if I say he couldn’t carry a tune in a wheelbarrow, is that also wrong? Because this guy opens his mouth and it’s like an actor paid to sing badly, except worse. His voice is high, then low, then flat – all in about ten words of song. I’ve never actually heard a normal human sing that bad.

I wonder why he can’t hear the caterwauling through the microphone? Can’t he pick up on the poor organist’s attempts to switch her music around to try and keep in harmony with him? Doesn’t he see the grimaces on the congregation’s faces? Can’t he hear the dogs howling in the distance?

So it sounds like from the sermon today I have to be nice, and rolling my eyes toward my daughter and whispering, “He can’t sing” isn’t the thing to do. And yet, if I just report the facts, isn’t that okay? The facts being that I would plug my ears with my fingers when he starts up if it wouldn’t be so obvious. These are the facts, and I’m simply sharing those facts with anyone who cares to listen.

Now I’m feeling guilty about writing this, but again, I have waited too late and it’s bedtime so I can’t possibly start over from scratch. I’m hoping the Good Lord has a sense of humor…and is exceptionally forgiving.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kiss My Glass

I won some really pretty wine glasses at a bunko game. There were four in the box and each had a different color and design. I found out where they came from and was thrilled to get another box at a really good price.

I’ve had them a couple of years, and every time I use them I have to wipe them off – they get this little film on them. Why do glasses get a film on them in the first place? They’re stored in a cabinet with glass doors. Does some filmy fog creep in there during the night? Some nasty little vermin spreading a dull cloud over my favorite glasses?

Many’s the time someone has dropped by and I’ve offered them a neighborly glass of wine. I reach for my favorite glasses first because they are front and center and they’re really pretty. Sometimes, if I’m talking over my shoulder or not paying attention, I’ll pull one out and am appalled when I start to pour the wine. If the person doesn’t see the glass, I grab a towel and wipe it clean. If they do see it, I make a joke, “Well, you can tell my husband washed this one. Men, they don’t pay attention to detail. Ha Ha.” Then I scramble to find a “clean” glass.

I just washed these glasses not too long ago, and I noticed that they were fogged up again. Doggone it! I can’t blame those on my husband.

There is something in these glasses – some chemical – that makes them film up like somebody left soap on them and didn’t rinse it off.

Who in the heck makes a product like that? What was that manufacturing plant conversation like?

First day: “Pretty nice set of glasses we designed here, Bob. Ladies are gonna love ‘em. We’ll make a whole bunch of these.”

Third day, “Hmmm, boys, these glasses got a little coating on them like they’re dirty, better wash ‘em before you box ‘em up, there, Steve.”

Fifth day: “You can’t even see through these glasses. How the hell many did we make like this? EIGHTY-TWO BILLION!!!??? What the hell’s the matter with them? Are they fit to drink from?”

Seventh day: “Okay, here’s what you do. Ship ‘em straight to the discount stores. At least we won’t have to take a 100% loss on them. I’d like to know whose brilliant idea it was to make these friggin’ things anyway. What did you say? Oh, shut up, will ya and get these son of a bitches out of my sight.”

I bet it happened just like that and you and I, the innocent consumers, purchased these products in good faith expecting that we’ve gotten a great deal and some real value for our discount store money for a change, and then look what happens.

My daughter is a science whiz – wants to be a physicist of all things – and she says there’s some chemical in the glass that is causing them to oxidize with the air. Since they have to be stored on the planet earth where we are surrounded by AIR, I suppose there’s nothing I can do about it. Unless I move to Mars. But then no one would come visit to offer a glass of wine, so what good would that do me?

The sad thing is it’s taken me two years to figure out that it’s not my husband’s lousy washing that’s causing these ugly glasses, it’s some act of nature. I’m not telling him, though, because then I’d have to apologize for griping about his inability to get a wine glass clean.

I wonder if I can return them to the store for a refund after two years? Probably not. Maybe I’ll donate them to my daughter’s chemistry class so they can experiment on them then throw them into the trash, because now I’m too scared to drink out of ‘em.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just Like My Momma

I was listening to a book on tape today and the guy was lamenting that he had become just like his father.

I am happy to say that I’m like my mother in many ways. Like her, I try to see the funny things in life. Lord knows there’s plenty of not-funny stuff to draw my attention away and make me cranky, but I purposefully try to find things that will amuse me whenever I can.

For instance, my son and I happened to be looking at the two giant goldfish we’ve had for about six years. One fish is way bigger, and he’s a bully.

“Watch that big one chase the little one away from the food,” I said.

“Keep watching, he’ll do it in just a minute, he always does.”

“Any second now.”

“He ALWAYS chases the other fish, every time I feed them. Just because you’re watching he refuses to do it.”

Of course the stupid bully fish decided to be on his best behavior to make me look like an idiot. Every time I try to show someone something, it doesn’t happen.

“That fish is just like the dog,” I said. “You tell that dog to do something in front of anyone and she absolutely refuses to do it until the very second the person looks away.”

My son chuckled. Music to my ears – making someone else laugh too.

It’s the little things that make life delightful. My dog was with me in the car today, and I have a bag I put her in and sneak her into places so she won’t have to stay in the hot car. It looks like a ratty old purse, and it’s got some holes in it. Today I was going around to planning bureaus getting permits for the solar company I work for. As I was walking down the hallway I happened to look down at the “purse” and saw a huge wad of black, curly dog hair sticking out. I laughed and turned the purse around so that the hair was hidden. It wouldn’t have been funny if someone else had noticed and kicked me out of the building for having a dog in there with all those, “No Pets Allowed” stickers all over the entrances, but even then I could have gotten some laughs out of it when I told the story to my friends and family. Busted at the City of Portland for having a contraband dog.

Don’t get the impression that I’m always jovial. I’m certainly not. But I’m looking out for opportunities to laugh everywhere I go. There’s a line in the Bible, “Seek and ye shall find.” It makes sense. If you’re looking for trouble, misery, a fight, or mischief, you’re probably going to stumble on to it sooner or later. If you’re looking to be amused, delighted, entertained, or to make someone else laugh, you’ll likely find that as well.

This is what my momma taught me just by watching her – be on the lookout for amusements whenever they present themselves. It makes the bittersweet parts of life a little more sweet and a little less bitter.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spinning Wheel of Death

I have a Mac, which means I have the “spinning wheel of death” when Mac wants me to wait for it to do its thang. People with PC’s get an hour glass, but Macs have this little color wheel that rotates, letting you know that the Mac is thinking and you’d better not interrupt if you know what’s good for you.

I learned this the hard way – the same way I learn everything on the computer. I typed out something complex in a table and then got frustrated because the table wouldn’t size the way I wanted it to. So I tugged it with my cursor on one side and then the other. But I went too fast, and the confounded spinning wheel came up. I kept trying to move the table, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried to save the document but the program was frozen like a kid’s tongue stuck to an icy flagpole. It wouldn’t budge, wouldn’t respond. Then it crashed, and my entire document was sucked away like a frog sucking up a fly.

When something won’t work on the computer, I start clicking and trying something else. When that only escalates my aggravation, I click something else. The spinning wheel does not like this. Not one bit. It comes out of nowhere and sits right in the middle of what I’m doing and takes its own sweet time to go away. If I so much as twitch a finger on my mouse, I know what that wheel is going to say, “I told you to BACK OFF, and you wouldn’t listen – you never listen, and I’ve warned you over and over and over again. How does someone get through a dumb thick brain like yours? When you see me, you better start running because if you so much as LOOK at me the wrong way, I’m going to send everything you got right out to space where you’ll never, ever, ever see it again. You hear?”

That wheel is a bee-otch, I can tell you that right now. Sometimes my computer starts running slow for no apparent reason. Maybe it got a little too wild with the PC and it’s got a hangover. Who knows what goes on in my office after I go to bed? There’s a radio right beside the PC, making techno-funk that the PC and Mac can’t resist – they dance and party all through the night – their mice snuggling in the dark shadows. Or they could spend the whole night making fun of the old calculator that only has numbers and not letters. Who knows why these computers run slow for a while for no reason.

When it happens, out pops that spinning wheel, like a rat coming up out of the toilet bowl. This actually happened once to someone I knew. They heard some splashing in the toilet and opened the lid. There was a rat, sometimes referred to as a “sewer rat” thrashing around in the toilet bowel. Apparently it had come from somewhere. I don’t know what they did with it – in this situation, what could you do? Flush the toilet screeching, “Go back where you came from, you swarthy vermin?” Would you throw it a life raft and succumb to your child’s pleas of “Can we keep it mommy, pleeeee-ease? We’ll take really good care of it, honest we will. Can we, can we, can we?”

That’s the point; you don’t know WHAT to do with that spinning wheel any more than you know what to do with that unwelcome varmint in your toilet. If you wait long enough it MIGHT go away without doing any damage. Of course the rodent isn’t going anywhere, and you’ll have to deal with him as best you can. I’d advise you to be nice to him because brutality to a sewer rat might give you bad dreams. It would me.

That spinning wheel and a sewer rat rank at about the same place on my list of unwanted things in my life. I love my Mac, and it’s fast and easy and fun to operate, but I hate that wheel. Always will.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spell Check Doesn't Like Whoo-hoo

Whenever I write anything I try to run spell check because with my word processing program, Microsoft Word for Mac, I keep getting curious little green and red underlines on words like “fixin’ to fix dinner” or “fiddy-cent that won’t go away unless I spell check them.

On a recent post I was commenting about your comments and btw, thanks to abnolagrors for this fun comment: "It's such a tickety-boo site. fabulous, very intriguing!!!” This comment alone has two underlines, not to mention the name of the commenter, and I can’t wait to see what spell check is going to say about tickety-boo. Spell check gets very confused with made up words but, being a hard worker and dying to please, it tries with all its might to come up with a plausible suggestion.

For instance, and as I was saying, on that recent post I was excited about reaching 300 blog posts, and I typed the words “whoo-hoo.” (There goes the red underline again). Since I’m noticing these underlines, I just discovered, after all these years – whoo-hoo! – that the red underlines must be misspelled words and the green ones must be grammar or “other” errors, like an accidental extra space around a word, incorrect capitalization or comma usage, or an unsightly poppy seed caught between my words that I don’t notice but everyone else does and spell check wants to tell me because it’s my friend and your best friends will let you know about a poppy seed caught between your words.

Okay the whole poppy seed thing is dumb, but spell check doesn’t think so. It didn’t find any errors at all in that whole rambling, except the “whoo-hoo.” So I ask it, “What’s the matter boy, what is it? Did Timmy fall in a well?” My daughter said this yesterday in the middle of a conversation, and I was amazed. Wasn’t that in an old “Lassie” episode from the last century?

“How do you know about Lassie?” I asked.

“Wasn’t that about a dog with a pointed nose?”

“Yes, but you’ve never seen it, have you?”

“Didn’t that dog have a lot of long hair?”

“Yes, Lassie was a collie.”

“Whatever. What’s for supper?”

Who knows where these kids get their information? I’ll have a carload of girls in the car and an old song comes on the radio and they all start singing along in their loudest voices. The noise is deafening, I can tell you that. But what’s really interesting is how they know the words to the songs I used to sing when I was a kid. I can guarantee you I did NOT know the words to any songs my parents used to know. My dad used to sing blues songs which I had no interest in whatsoever because I was into rock n roll.

Interesting – spell check didn’t underline rock n roll. How does it know that’s a word? “n” is not a word, but spell check isn’t scoffing. Maybe it’s on vacation – down in Tahiti sipping Mai Tai’s and wiggling its toes in the sand, catching some rays.

Whatever the case, I’m going to finish this “whoo-hoo” thing right now so I can move on with my life. I got a red line under “whoo-hoo” and spell check had some suggestions. The first one was “hoo-ha.” I wondered, “How come spell check knows “hoo-ha” but doesn’t know “whoo-hoo?” To me it seems like “whoo-hoo” has been around longer than “hoo-ha.” Perhaps I’m misspelling “whoo-hoo.” Maybe it’s supposed to be “whoo-who.” Nope, spell check doesn’t like that either. I’m going to see what Google says. Be right back.

Hmmm, quite interesting. Google says it’s supposed to be “woo-hoo” because that’s what Homer Simpson was using, but the bank, “WaMu” adopted “whoo-hoo” and trademarked it as their slogan. Since WaMu is now Chase, I guess that didn’t work out too well.

For the record, spell check doesn’t think “woo-hoo” is a word either, but I’m not complaining. Spell check is my friend, and it’s doing the best it can, and Lord knows I ask a lot from it with my made up words, sentence fragments, and bona-fide typos. To me, spell check is fabulous – it’s simply tickety-boo!