M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Monday, June 30, 2003  

Reader Mail Slot, Episode XIV

The original idea of the Reader Mail Slot was for me to answer questions for my readers. And, of course, make fun of people’s spelling when they write in with legitimate complaints. As it turns out, few of the complaints I get are of the legitimate variety, and some months the information tends to flow towards me rather than the other way around. This is one of those months. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, Boony has a question that should probably go in my Frequently Asked Questions page. If I had a Frequently Asked Questions page. Which I don’t, because in my case, Frequently Asked = Once. But I’ll answer this one anyway, in case someone else wants to know:

Are you a relative of the Jolly Green Giant? The Jolly Green Giant is well known to us Brits for advertising a brand of sweet corn to us a few years ago. He had an annoying jingle and everything. That's not why I think he'd be related to you, though. You don't (a) advertise sweet corn or (b) have an annoying jingle.

This is how I know that Boony has never met me in person. I do have an annoying jingle, which I actually prefer to think of as my personal theme music, but I only use it when I enter or exit a room. If I try to recreate it here, you won’t get the same effect and I will have worn out all of my vowel keys for nothing.

No, the reason why I think you might be related is that you share a surname. However, you can't be related to the Big Friendly Giant, because, as every schoolkid knows, he's just a figment of the imagination of one Roald Dahl.

Dude, the—I mean, bloke, the Jolly Green Giant is practically an institution over here. In fact, there’s a 55-foot statue of him in Blue Earth, Minnesota, which I was privileged to visit on one occasion a few years ago. You can stand right beneath him and let him tower over you. I’d tell you what’s under the loincloth, but the Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce would shut me down, family connections be damned.

Let me field another query, this one from Julie:

Have you ever entertained the notion of a search function for Velcrometer? You've no idea how stupidly long I Control-F-ed your archives for the word "need" to find the Trash/Chicklit entry ("I need this!").

Why didn’t you just search for “ChickLit?”

(Please, please, please don't ask why I wasn't searching for "ChickLit".)

Oh. Sorry. Forget I asked. As I told Julie, I would love to have a search function, because nobody would use it as much as I would. I’m always linking to older entries and doing Google searches like “Velcrometer fuchsia uvula” or “Velcrometer evil pants factory” or what have you. Having my very own search function would probably save me a lot of work, but I’d be the one doing the work to save myself the work, and I just can’t talk myself into that. Something I do need to do, however, is stop using the word “need” so much. If people have a need for an entry with word “need” in it and it turns out they need to Control-F until they need to ice their wrists, then I need to look at whether I’m overusing the word “need.” I’m obviously writing it more than I need to.

There were a couple of other questions in my inbox, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time on them, so I’ll just answer them in a group:

Yes; no, I do it all the time; hell no; Trash’s brother; because our digital camera is acting like a pissy baby: and no, I haven’t given birth recently. Thanks for your questions. Now to the answers.

I idly speculated a couple of weeks ago on how nice it would be if I had a way to visually locate spots on the carpet that a cat has mistaken for a litterbox. And the readers came to the rescue. One of them was April:

It doesn't require special goggles, but you can purchase the Stinkfinder Light from Drs. Foster and Smith: I haven't used it (my cat is some kind of litterbox-savant), but I hear it comes highly recommended.

Forget the light; let’s just trade cats. From Anna:

You can find the source of the cat piss smell by getting yourself a handheld black light and scanning a dark room. I had to do that myself when I returned from vacation *gag*.

That’s nothing compared the mess I would have left in her comments page if she’d gotten back much later. And from Chris:

All of the urine spots will glow due to the phosphates contained in most animal urine.

REMEMBER: be emotionally prepared to see many spots glowing, even if only one of them is causing the odor you noticed it's not a bad idea to hit the brightest ones (a.k.a. more recent transgressions) with the love juice you got from kitty-Wal-mart.

Obviously if three readers told me about this, it had to be true. So, with Chris’s warning in mind, I dug out some black light bulbs from Halloween, plugged them into a lamp, turned the lamp on, and prepared for the worst.

“Okay, honey, hit the lights.”


“Go ahead and turn them off now.”

“They are off.”


You know what’s also handy for dealing with cat piss in the home? Vicks VapoRub™ on your upper lip. Works wonders.

Also, there’s the leftover paint thing, which prompted almost as many responses. Caenis suggested I donate it to Habitat for Humanity, while Lucinda directed me to the local recycling website. I think I’ll give a can to each and see which operation ends up with both of them.

The centipede topic, meanwhile, just won’t die, much like its subject. Kim was thoughtful enough to send me this:

What you saw might have been a house centipede.

Because it was the size of a house? That makes sense.

There is a fairly good picture and description of it here. We started seeing these in our house about two years ago. They come in all sizes, from tiny up to 3 inches long.

From? To? Three inches long is tiny, in my experience.

We didn't know what they were until we found a fairly large one drowned in the cat's water dish, took it to a local nursery, and asked "What is this and how do we get rid of them?" They told us and recommended a product called "Borid" which is powdered boric acid. We sprayed it under all our baseboards and we haven't seen one in a while.

Hey, I’ve seen that stuff, and I have to say, “oops.” Trash and I bought some because, going by the name, we assumed it was used to dispatch dull party guests. In case you’re wondering, it works for that too, as long as you use enough of it.

They are considered "good" bugs, meaning they eat other bugs that you probably don't want, but it's hard to supress a primal "kill it kill it kill it now" reaction upon seeing one.

That explains why I had to replace my monitor after I clicked on the link Kim sent me. The picture wasn’t as clear after I put a claw hammer through the screen, you see. Kim has sort of answered one question, but she has also raised the issue of why she makes her cat drink out of a horse trough.

And then an entirely different Kimberly was thoughtful enough to send this along, completely unsolicited. It’s a guide to some of rural Des Moines’ hotter nightspots. You’ll notice if you click on the link that one of the places is in Lacona, the town that Trash’s mom and stepfather moved to in January. So next time we go visit them, we’ll have to stop by. I think it’ll be worth renting a tractor for the evening.

Oh, and I’d also like to thank those of you who empathized with me when I needed it. For instance, Emmberry’s and Anna’s reactions to my NBA All-Star story were appropriately awed. And then there’s BlackDove:

I live in Springfield, MA, home of the Basketball Hall of Fame...and I.Don't.Even.Care. Why the hell is it here? Did someone hallucinate an actual professional sports team *of any sort* here??? Jeez, let's all just go hang out at the Dr Seuss memorial, now that's something we can all get behind, right? Right?

Two out of three isn’t bad. And I guess the third one shows that I’m reaching the appropriate demographic, if nothing else.

And it’s also nice to know that people are there for me in a time whem everybody I know has already finshed reading Harry Potter and the Order of Fries while I’m still waiting around for Series of Unfortunate Events 10. People like SarahJanet:

I know your pain. Harry is the only unfinished series I've still got on the go, because I've refused to start reading any other > ones. You think THIS is bad. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy was SO MUCH WORSE! They delayed that third book, seriously, a million years. We were conviced he was DEAD and they just didn't want to tell us about it!

So now, I refuse. I won't get committed to any other series until they're > finished. Because I am TIRED of living in fear that J. K. Rowling is going to be ASSASSINATED and we'll never know what happens to poor Harry.

Hey, maybe the WMD inspection teams in Iraq should “find” evidence that Saddam Hussein planned to have Rowling whacked. That would shut a lot of people up.

While I do appreciate SarahJanet’s sympathy, she’s probably already got her HP5. But then I got this note from JAdamson, which truly speaks to my malaise. It reads, in its entirety:

I KNOW!!!!!

Says it all, really.

posted by M. Giant 3:36 PM 0 comments


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