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

Sunday, January 29, 2006  

Plumb Stumped

You know the urban myth about how water spirals down the drain in one direction in the northern hemisphere, and in the other direction in the southern hemisphere? Recently we learned what it's like to live on the equator, where it just sits there.

Oh, the sinks drained just fine. It was the bathtub we were having problems with. We have a little plastic strainer in the drain that's supposed to keep our hairs from going down and clogging it up after our showers, but apparently that only postpones the inevitable.

This has happened before. Every couple of years or so, I'd just dump some highly toxic chemical down the tub drain, exchanging a few layers of plumbing for another period of reliable drainage. And then I'd have to do it again. It only works to a point, though.

I also own a plumber's snake. Actually, it sort of came with the house. We found it under the basement stairs when we moved in. Unfortunately, it has proved to not be narrow or flexible enough to ream out anything tighter or twistier than a subway tunnel. Thanks, Dr. Jellyfinger. That's another one we owe you.

Even a wire coat hanger twisted into a probe has limited efficacy beyond that first hairpin turn in the drainpipe. I might occasionally fish out some sad little hank of unidentifiable matter with the makeshift hook, but it never makes a difference.

The one thing that did work, the last time our bathtub drain stopped up, was to haul my shop-vac in from the garage, stick the end of the hose under the stagnant surface, press it against the drain opening, and turn on the juice. Last time, it worked like a charm. If only I'd remembered to put the top of the vacuum on tightly enough to prevent sheets of brackish sludge from flowing over the sides of the tank behind me for about five minutes without my realizing it, it would have been an unqualified success.

I put off trying the vacuum again this time, not only because I didn't want to make another mess, but because it's such a pain to drag that thing in from the garage, and then drag it out again when it's full of dirty water. And it is full of dirty water when I'm done, whether I vacuumed it from out of the tub or from off the bathroom floor. I guess I could just dump it back out into the tub, but something about that seem counterintuitive.

Rather than bringing in the shop-vac, it was much easier to do what we did instead the weekend of the 14th, which was to bring up a plastic bucket and bail the standing water out into the toilet after every shower. Did you know the toilet flushes itself when you do that?

Soon, however, the novelty wore off. And with four-cap week coming up, we knew we weren't going to have time to build a second bathroom any time soon. Trash was starting to put together a schedule in her head whereby our showers would always be at least an hour apart in order to give the tub time to drain. "Hey," I told her, "it's not like I mind showering while standing ankle-deep in your runoff."

"If I hadn't minded before," Trash said," I would mind now."

So that weekend, I broke out the shop-vac. I even remembered to get the top of the vacuum on tight this time, in order to ensure maximum containment and minimum rug-ruining. The tub was still empty from its most recent bailing, so I sucked out the bit of water that was still standing in the drain. Then I ran a little water into the tub, and tried sucking the clog up along with the liquid. All I sucked up was water, with just enough of the clog to give it a little color. Better yet, I had somehow brought the drain from being 98% clogged to being 100% clogged. If I'd had the humidifier in M. Small's room running, the water level would have actually gone up.

So I went downstairs to see how hard it would be to take apart the whole drain assembly from below and clean it out piece by piece. I did that with the bathroom sink a couple of years ago, and that had gone great except for the fact that I'd encountered a smell that forced me to take the rest of the day off. How much more difficult could the works beneath the tub be? They certainly couldn't be smellier.

I took one look at it, saw that it all appeared to be welded together, and remembered why I'd resorted to the shop-vac in the first place the last time. And then I decided to call a plumber.

Just like drains, there appear to be some myths about plumbers. It's not true that it's impossible to get one at your house at a convenient time, as long as you're going to be working from home all day on a Tuesday. I called at eight in the morning, went to work on my third 24 recap, and let the plumber in six hours later. Nothing easier. As for another popular plumber-related myth, this one wore overalls.

I turned him loose in the basement and went back to writing, ignoring the alarming, expensive-sounding banging that was coming from below me. At one point, once I figured he'd had a chance to assess the situation, I decided to swallow my apprehension and go down there to ask him how much it was going to cost us to not have to drain our tub with a pail. "Just a ballpark," I said.

"I don't do the billing," he said, "but I'd guess about eighty-five."

"Hundred or thousand?" I cringed.

"Dollars," he assured me.

So that was a bargain. After a while the banging stopped, and he came upstairs to see how the drain worked now. I wish I could tell you which way the water swirls, but it drains faster than we can fill it up, so there's never enough water to swirl anyway. I don't think that's been the case since we moved in here thirteen years ago.

I thanked him and he went on his way, saying the company would send me a bill. "Now you can start clogging it up again," he cracked on his way out. I don't know if plumbers are supposed to be without a sense of existential futility, but if they are, then that's a myth too.

So now when we shower we have to actually wash our feet, instead of just sort of letting them soak. And M. Small is a little disappointed, because his little baby bath rests on the bottom of the tub instead of floating now. But he's adjusting. He'll be even happier when he's old enough to understand that even though I hired a plumber when he was a year old, he can still go to college.

Best news of all? We still haven't gotten our bill.

Today's best search phrase: "M&M poisoning." Hey, I think I have that. The main symptom is that you get really fat.

posted by M. Giant 8:14 PM 9 comments


I lived in a house last year that was over 100 years old. The bathroom upstairs (the only bathroom in a 5 bedroom room house) was old and the pipes were horrible. The bathtub would clog up A LOT. What worked for us in a pinch (a plumber told us this) - taking off the overflow drain on the side of the tub, stuffing a towel in the hole to create suction, and then using a plunger on the drain. You'd be surpised how well that works on old clogged pipes.

The plumber also said that drano and things like that are the worst thing you could pour down a drain.

By Anonymous Robyn, at January 30, 2006 at 6:51 AM  

I'm impressed; where I live, you have to call a "sewer service" to deal with a clog, before the plumber will even come out and look at your problem. I discovered this the first time I had plumbing issues (two days after we moved into our house), and 12 years later, my mind is still boggled.

By Blogger Dimestore Lipstick, at January 30, 2006 at 7:29 AM  

that was so funny I lol'd (and i hated just typing that) several times. consider yourself bookmarked.

By Anonymous bob, at January 30, 2006 at 12:17 PM  

I had the same problem a few weeks ago, but amazingly, the person/plumber/amateur carpenter who put in the trap on my tub actually anticipated the problem and not only left it exposed in the basement, but put a little screw-off cap thingy on the bottom of the trap that I was able to remove by hand. 100% fixed!

By Blogger Joanne, at January 30, 2006 at 3:52 PM  

Congratulations! We live in a 120 year old house, so I can say with certainty we have replaced/repaired plumbing in every toilet, sink and tub and we STILL have issues. In fact we just found two cracked fittings over the weekend.
It's nice to know that sometimes people actually solve plumbing problems and for only $85, well that's some sort of miracle. Way to stick it to the plumbing "Man".

By Anonymous TB, at January 31, 2006 at 8:23 AM  

I plunge my tub. It is really disgusting when the "clog" or whatever comes up and then I have to pick it up with my hands and throw it in the garbage, but it has always worked for us.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 31, 2006 at 10:26 AM  

How on earth do you get M. Tiny to still sit in a baby bath? My kid revolted and we had to start letting him bathe in the entire tub at around 9 months or so.

By Anonymous Mandy, at January 31, 2006 at 12:59 PM  

You'd be surprised how many plumbers have that existential futility. That's because materials used to make plumbing have to be such that water is not absorbed by them, and all those materials are naturally oleophilic (according to my plumbing guid). So yeah, no matter how many times you clog a pipe, as long as any kind of oils are going down that drain, eventually it will clog again.

Yeah, maybe I do read too much. I'll be going now.

By Blogger Sleepless Mama, at February 3, 2006 at 7:51 AM  

I live in a 90-year-old house in south Minneapolis and when I bought it about 2 years ago, I have to put Drano in the bathtub every 3 weeks or so. I got one of those little metal strainers that, as you said, postpones the inevitable. Then my father came to visit me about 4 months ago, stuck the hose of my itty bitty vaccuum cleaner down the drain, and produced some kind of plastic thing which apparently was dropped in there by the previous owners. Haven't had to use Drano since. And also I'm starting to wonder if the previous owner sold the house not because of the loud losers in the rental house next door, but because she didn't have a father who said "You don't need a plumber! Where's your sweeper?..."

By Anonymous Forsquilis, at February 4, 2006 at 8:32 PM  

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Thursday, January 26, 2006  

Good Night and Good God

I saw Good Night and Good Luck the other night with Dirt and Banana, and a few things struck me about it right away. Besides being in an actual movie theater, that is. No, not just Ray Wise's hair, although it was impressive that the former Leland Palmer could not only play such a sad and vulnerable character, but do so from underneath that hair-lmet.

It also wasn't the constant smoking, although that was hard to miss. Yes, one recognizes intellectually that everyone smoked all the time in the fifties. Even the non-smokers smoked -- they just smoked filtereds. But then you see it on screen and it's a whole other level. When I used to see movies with BuenaOnda, she hated sitting through the credits with me. And then she would always have a cigarette in her mouth and a thumb on the wheel of her Zippo before we were even out of the theater, awaiting only the sight of daylight to strike flame after the longest interval of non-smoking she'd endured in weeks. She always twitched enviously in her seat whenever someone lit up on screen, but she stuck it out. She would have had to take smoke breaks from this one every ten minutes or so. Watching people smoking not only while hanging out and drinking, but also while working, walking, talking, eating, cooking, testifying before HUAC, sleeping, having sex, performing surgery, and scuba diving would have been too much for her. I'm not even going to mention the fact that Strathairn's Edward R. Murrow doesn't exactly speak with the voice of a man who has ever heard of cigarettes, let alone one who's always careful to hold his smoldering Kent clearly visible in the frame.

No, what really hit me was the way people used to make TV. My old boss at the radio show would be the first to admit that he's something of a technophobe, but whenever we traveled to a different town, the first things set up backstage were always the laptops and the Inkjets, and the only time I ever heard him curse was when he couldn't get a Word document to print ten minutes before a show. And then last night I see this movie about people making a television program, and they don't have a goddamn thing that you need to make TV these days except cameras and a studio, and I'm pretty sure that TV is several orders of magnitude harder than radio. Edward R. Murrow and his homies didn't have computers or e-mail or fax machines or video or Avids or chroma-key or any of that crap. All they had were manual typewriters, reels of film, so many cigarettes that I'm amazed that there are any left today, so much Brylcreem that there isn't any left today, and enough drive and energy to do it anyway. When they wanted to review footage, they couldn't go to the editing bay or pop a tape in; they had to thread it through a rickety projector, turn out the lights, and screen it on somebody's office wall. And then Murrow went on the air, live, with Fred Friendly sitting on the floor next to him holding a stopwatch and tapping Murrow on the leg with a pen when it was time to start talking.

Whatever Clooney's flaws may be as a director, screenwriter, or pinko activist, he certainly has internalized his dad's "when I was your age" stories about the TV biz. These guys were at the top of their field at the time, and they were putting together a show with fewer resources than your average public-access show has in 2006. It gave me the same feeling I had during Apollo 13, watching Tom Hanks as my dad's old squadron-mate doing calculus with a pencil while suffering from hypoxia, and you realize, my God, thirty-five years ago we were actually sealing perfectly good human beings into large pieces of cookware and firing them at the moon, with less computing power than I have in my cell phone. And my cell phone's a piece of shit.

I often felt the same way recapping Rome. I'd notice that Niobe was always cooking or prepping, and realize that that's because every meal probably took all day, every day. I'm a two-minute drive away from a store were I can buy a little pouch of grated cheese, a product that would have taken Niobe most of a month to produce. It just makes me wonder how or why anyone ever accomplished anything, instead of just lying in bed and waiting for someone to invent all the crap we now need to get through our daily lives.

And now a chump like me can sit at my computer keyboard, typing words that, through a series of mechanisms I can't even begin to understand, will shortly find their way onto the computer screens of perhaps tens of people I'll never meet. Compared to what a genius like Murrow and his hard-working boys had to go through to get their shitty ratings, it doesn't really seem fair.

On the other hand, I can't help wondering how many broadcasters of today would go back to that time in a heartbeat, if it meant having George Clooney tucked under their desk when they went on the air.

Today's best search phrase: "Why does trash leave me again?" I hope I never have to answer that.

posted by M. Giant 4:14 PM 6 comments


Thanks for making me feel guilty for having "stuff". Now I'm going to start throwing all of my technology stuff away, starting with my computer... right after I buy something on e-bay, and look up the lyrics to Giligan's Island, and buy a new cell phone I'm about to throw away, oh yeah, and look up a bunch of porn...

By Anonymous Chao, at January 27, 2006 at 6:18 AM  

Excellent post.

On the other hand, I can't help wondering how many broadcasters of today would go back to that time in a heartbeat, if it meant having George Clooney tucked under their desk when they went on the air.

I would have gone into broadcast instead of print, and I would still be in it, if it meant having George Clooney tucked under my desk when I went on the air.

And all the audience surveys would say, "That girl on Channel 12 just smiles ALL THE TIME."

Hee hee.

Smooches to M. Small from MC D.Laney,


By Blogger grandefille, at January 27, 2006 at 6:36 AM  

Gosh, the greatest generation and all that malarky, ain't it just so cool and retro to see a movie about actual people who lived in a black and white world? I wonder if they, like, had indoor plumbing.

By Blogger Sven Golly, at January 27, 2006 at 7:52 AM  

I thought about this too when I saw Good Night, but sadly that thought was not enought to captivate me and make the film any more interesting to me. I actually fell asleep in the theater and forevermore the movie is known to me as Good Night and Good Night.

By Anonymous TB, at January 27, 2006 at 10:05 AM  

Along the same line, my friends and I often comment about how parents today often mention that their kids need cell phones for "safety". Hell, I was a kid before the internet/cell phone age and I survived. My point is, although technology was more "archaic", people were intellectually the same. Humans weren't dumb, just not as advanced in gadgetry. In addition, culture was "simpler" in terms of its demands for technology in every day life.

On a different note - I love you M. Giant!

By Anonymous KC, at January 27, 2006 at 3:55 PM  

You'd enjoy talking to my Dad. He a radio newsman/dj during the 50s and 60s. I always smile when I see his headshot from those days, he looks so young in front of the old fashioned microphone and with the station's call letters in the background.

By Blogger Teslagrl, at January 31, 2006 at 10:52 AM  

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Saturday, January 21, 2006  

The following is the sound I made when I tried to get two dozen of M. Small's noisiest toys all going at once.

this is an audio post - click to play

The phone doesn't pick it up as well as I'd hoped, but when you're in the room, it sounds a lot like World War III as fought by clowns.

posted by M. Giant 8:51 AM 4 comments


Holy crap, that had me laughing my ass off. That said, I get the impression I'd feel slightly differently if I had to put up with it on a regular basis.

By Anonymous Jeremy, at January 22, 2006 at 1:14 PM  

That sounds like the casino floor of Circus, Circus in Vegas.

By Anonymous Mojave, at January 23, 2006 at 11:31 AM  

I LOVE it! But I would imagine that Trash hates it, especially if M. Tiny does it more than once a day.

By Anonymous Melissa, at January 23, 2006 at 1:36 PM  

rofl. WWII as fought by clowns... *hoots*

By Anonymous Gngr, at February 6, 2006 at 6:51 AM  

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Thursday, January 19, 2006  

In a couple of weeks, Trash might have to do a training session on the day when she's normally home with M. Small. She hopes to know for sure soon, so she can arrange day care for him that day.

"Or you could just bring him with you," I suggested. "Your class could take care of him."

"That's a great idea. Better yet, he could help me with my training."

"I love it. 'And now I'd like to turn the floor over to my assistant, M. Small.'"

"'Yah yah yah yah ho!'"

"This concludes the section on networking. And now M. Small would like you to turn to the first page of the section called, 'A Cow Says Moo.'"

"'Cow....Moooo.' 'Thank you. Now, moving on to interview skills. Sometimes role playing can be helpful. Allow us to demonstrate.'"

"'M. Small, what does a cow say?'"


"'What does a cow say?'"


"'What does a cow say?'"


"'And now we'd like to conclude our training session with a brief musical number.' 'E-I-E-I-O!'"


"I see nothing wrong with this plan. It's about time the kid started earning his keep."

posted by M. Giant 7:41 PM 3 comments


Sounds more interesting than a lot of trainings I had to follow. More practical too. No-one told me before that a cow said 'Mooooo'. So how was I supposed to network with cows without such vital information?

By Anonymous Bart, at January 20, 2006 at 6:40 AM  

I would totally come to a training by M. Small and Trash. It would be an improvement over most training classes I have attended. I would be able to explain that, while cows are known to say "moo" horses might say "neigh." It would be great!

By Anonymous Michelle, at January 20, 2006 at 6:52 PM  

Am I the only one who thought of the hilarious episode of Arrested Development that featured "Bring your daughter to work day?"

Only me? Okay.

M Small and Trash would make an awesome presentation duo.

By Blogger Antipodean, at January 20, 2006 at 9:28 PM  

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006  

36 years ago today, the best man – no, the best person I have ever met was born. I am not certain if birds started to sing and angels landed on earth, but I do know that the world was instantly made a better place.

Almost 20 years ago (I think it’s 20 next month, but M. Giant claims it’s only 19) I met this gorgeous, hilarious, and brilliant young man. We were competing against each other in a speech competition, and I am happy to say I kicked his ass. Despite this obvious hit to his masculinity, he still wanted to become friends, much to my delight.

Flash forward a few years, and I run into this same young man at the University of MN. It was the first day of spring quarter, and I didn’t know what made the day better – being able to sit outside without a coat (we do live in MN, after all) or seeing one of the coolest and best people in knew in high school. In retrospect, I would have to say the later.

You all know the rest of the story. Girl pursues boy, boy shows no interest, girl gives up, and boy gives in. Maybe someday, if you’re lucky, M. Giant will tell you the story of the summer we started dating. If you know Zen Viking, he was there and he could tell you about it, too. If I have done something terrible, they might tell you the story of The Unbearable Long-ness of Being and the sheet.

But for now, let me just say HAPPY BIRTHDAY and I LOVE YOU to the nicest, most understanding, smartest, sexiest, brilliant, most patient, most hilarious, best father – just best – man I know. Here’s to another 50-60 years of happiness.

posted by M. Giant 9:30 AM 14 comments


Ahhh, that was so sweet. I LOVE Trash updates

By Anonymous Michelle, at January 18, 2006 at 10:07 AM  

oh WOW! I had no idea that's how you guys met! I'm just a fan who followed over from TWoP, but I had to post here, as I met my love the same way, kicking the boy's ass in speech and debate.

From what I've seen after a year of reading this here blog, y'all are a lovely family, with a beautiful son and a great life. It's so encouraging. Happy birthday M. Giant!

By Anonymous Random blogger named Amy, at January 18, 2006 at 12:03 PM  

Overheard on the Hugh Hewitt show at 6:50pm:

"I want to recommend Television with Pity as well!" [laughs] "They have these awesome recaps and they give people names like Chloe is called 'Potato Face'"

All PR is good PR eh?

Happy Birthday.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 18, 2006 at 8:08 PM  

Whoops .. with = without, of course.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 18, 2006 at 8:09 PM  

Happy Birthday M. Giant. So, what'd you do? Dinner out? Party planned for this weekend? Drunken bowling? Drunken bowling dinner party? (Or maybe you don't drink, in which case I applaud you. But you should still have a bowling dinner party.)

By Blogger Sleepless Mama, at January 19, 2006 at 9:24 AM  

Have a great birthday M. Giant. And Trash, what a lovely tribute.

By Anonymous TB, at January 19, 2006 at 10:04 AM  

Before I read this entry, I think I was a little in love with M. Giant. Now I am a little in love with Trash. I want to be part of your family - is M. Small looking for an older sister?

By Anonymous Erin, at January 19, 2006 at 2:55 PM  

Happy Birthday, M. Giant! (2 days late)

By Anonymous Robyn, at January 20, 2006 at 6:11 AM  

Dude, sometimes knowing someone for 20 years can create pockets of self-fulfilling EVIL. See, I'd forgotten about the sheet story, due to advanced age and not having been there but rather just hearing about it (I wasn't there, was I?).

Anyway, what Trash says is true. The way I remember it, though, it wasn't so clear that Giant was disinterested, merely clueless, as all the good ones are in their teens and early twenties.

I recall that Trash had, for some reason, held on to some random ex-boyfriend's soccer jersey. I am proud to have been the one who heaved it out Giant's car window at speed.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at January 20, 2006 at 10:04 AM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger Nancy, at January 20, 2006 at 11:56 AM  

Trying again. . . Happy Birthday, M. Giant! How about making "the summer we started dating" your next post?

By Blogger Nancy, at January 20, 2006 at 11:58 AM  

Happy Belated Birthday!

Can't wait to ask ZV about the story.

By Blogger Teslagrl, at January 24, 2006 at 10:36 AM  

Wow, I did not know that you originally met in Speech, and competing against each other nonetheless. At least it wasn't during Danceline/Cheerleading squad or whatever it is *ahem* you were on ;)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 24, 2006 at 7:39 PM  

happy b-day dude. you guys rule. miss you lots. m.small is getting to be m.yooge.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 26, 2006 at 8:15 PM  

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Saturday, January 14, 2006  

Son and Hair

The other day I put M. Small down for a nap in his crib. When I put him in, he was fast asleep. I positioned him on his back, with his head pointing north, in the north end of the crib, and put a blanket on top of him.

When I checked on him a half hour later, he was on his stomach, with his head pointing south, in the south end of the crib, on top of the blanket.

Clearly, somebody is sneaking into my house during my child's naps and flipping him over like a flapjack.

* * *

Trash put off M. Small's first haircut for the longest time. She said we just needed to wait until his first birthday. I waited until then and then brought it up again, but she still wasn't ready, even though he was growing a little baby-mullet, with lengthening blond curls in the back and bangs straight down his forehead. So I backed off. Our Christmas card photos turned out nice:

Watch the D.A. there, you guys

So I backed off. Verbally, at least. I occaionally still did passive-aggressive stuff like messing with his hair before he went to bed so he would wake up looking like this:

Oh the shark has...pretty teeth, dear...

And even when I didn't, his hair started giving him this tiny-little-stoner vibe:

Did you ever really, you know, LOOK at your knuckle-dimples?

He ended up getting his first haircut about six weeks after his first birthday. I always wondered how they got little kids to hold still long enough to do more than run a set of clippers over their scalps. I needn't have worried. M. Small's first haircut coincided with his first experience with a Blue's Clues video. He was riveted for the duration.

If you make me look like that Steve dude, I'm going to bury those scissors in your spleen.

That first haircut was only a month and a half ago, and he's already starting to need another one.

Whoever makes those Baby Einstein videos must be so baked!

I'm keep trying to get Trash to let me get his hair cut like this:

I got my pencil!

But so far, she isn't going for it. I'm thinking it might be too late, anyway. nothing's sadder than somebody wearing a hairstyle that's too young for him.

* * *

Four-cap week starts tomorrow. This is Fox's second annual attempt to kill me by forcing me to recap four hours of 24 in one week. See you on the other side.

* * *

Today's best search phrase: "Who mows the lawn? We do!" Yeah, you tell Google. Lazy, good-for-nothing, no-lawn-mowing search engine.

posted by M. Giant 8:06 PM 8 comments


That photo in the barber shop is the cutest thing. I'm really not a 'baby person' at all...but your son is PRECIOUS.

By Blogger tina, at January 15, 2006 at 3:14 AM  

Your son has rock-and-roll hair. Get him a bitty drum set and some little tiny black Chuck Taylors and prepare for greatness.

By Blogger Sars, at January 15, 2006 at 7:29 AM  

You know, I just have to say it -- Trash has great hair. I would kill for that hair.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 15, 2006 at 7:05 PM  

I don't know about elsewhere, but M. Small's tiny-little-stoner hair is all the rage here in Vancouver. Stick him on a skateboard or a snowboard and he'd fit right in.

By Anonymous Jeremy, at January 15, 2006 at 10:23 PM  

Beautiful Christmas photo!

By Blogger Nancy, at January 17, 2006 at 9:42 AM  

M. Small is indeed a very cute boy. Perhaps he'd like to marry one of my daughters someday. I have one that's about his age. Just give my matchmaker a call.

I only have one question:

What's a flapjack?

By Blogger Sleepless Mama, at January 18, 2006 at 9:14 AM  

A flapjack is a pancake. Or a hotcake, if you prefer. Or maybe you're being a wise-ass and I don't know it. Regardless, I like the VH similarities.

By Blogger J, at January 18, 2006 at 9:21 AM  

Yehhhh!! M. Small photos at last -- wow, is it possible that he is becoming even more adorable!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 24, 2006 at 7:42 PM  

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006  

Mothers of Inventions

There's a story I've been meaning to tell for a while, about an inventor that somebody I know met a few weeks ago. I was hoping to tell you all about her invention, but I didn't want to end up in an awkward position in case someone stole her idea from reading it here. That would be bad.

But now it's okay, because I've heard she's since been granted a patent. Congratulations, Inventor! That can only mean the idea that I was all set to mock is completely valid and worthwhile.

Uh. Hem.

So, I went to the Patent Office's website to search for the patent, and I couldn't find the specific one in question. So that story will have to wait a bit. But I did learn a lot about some of the other inventions that have been granted patents, which, alas, has forced me to re-revise my opinion of our inventor's invention. This time in a downward direction. Perhaps the mere existence of a patent is not the validation I had previously thought.

I direct your attention to United States Patent #6,694,980, for an item designated "Prophylactic garment system for safer sex." After wading through paragraph after paragraph of dry descriptive material, I have determined that Patent #6,694,980 is for what can only be, in layman's terms, a pair of crotchless underwear with a pocket for condoms and stuff.

"And stuff"? Well, by this we of course mean, you know, stuff. Or, as Patent #6,694,980 enumerates, "lubricants, gels, shower gels, antibacterial cleansers, perfumes, scented oils, lotions," etc. How big is this pocket, anyway? And won't your partner be disappointed when you take off your pants and reveal that that isn't all you in there?

Yet Patent #6,694,980 isn't concerned with such details. The sky is the limit, as far as Patent #6,694,980 is concerned. I quote, without changing a word:

The flavors associated with the system may also include such commercially available flavors as KiwilimeN'Watermelon, PeachCobbler, Pink Pussycat, Pink Banana Split, HazzleN'Nuts, Rappin Raspberry, Lemon MaraineNCream, Cinnamon Juices, Lucious Liquish, White Chaffon, Red N'Hot, Cherry Berry, Swollowmelon, Popthatcherry, BlackCherry, SassyBerry, BerriesN'Cream, peachesN'me, CreamDreamy, Caramel with Nuts, Banana Nut with Cat, Fruitcocktail, Blast'N'berry, Blowpop, and Sodapop and any combination thereof.

Yes, Patent #6,694,980 will let you do anything. It's a freaky, naughty little patent.

But not reckless, oh no. In fact, sexual aids aren't the only thing you can stash in that little pocket. Here's what else you can find:

…may also includes an informational brochure that may discuss safer sex practices or STD information, e.g., symptoms, statistics, and treatment information.

Oh, way to be a buzzkill, Patent #6,694,980. Tease me and then go all clinical. As I said to Trash, "This just became the unsexiest sexy underwear imaginable." Presumably the safe-sex brochures would be sold separately. Or maybe you could get a discount on a nice, full-color photograph job with any purchase of Popthatcherry. Patent #6,694,980 doesn't really get into the marketing.

As for an entirely different patent, Patent #6,832,983, "Article of clothing with a novel attachment means," let's just say there isn't much it doesn't get into. Let's just say that "novel," as one goes on to read the rest of the description, turns out to mean "nightmarish." Let's just say that if you've been looking for a more comfortable way to keep your clothes on than having them, you know, wrapped around you on the outside, Patent #6,832,983 is for you. You sick fucking monkey.

Now, if anything, you're more curious about the device conceived by the inventor I mentioned at the beginning of the entry. What manner of marvelous item could be described by the search phrases that came up with Patents #6,832,983 and #6,694,980? You'll just have to wait and see. But I bet the patent number has a 6 in it. Hey, get away from that hole in the 6, Patent #6,832,983! Jeez! Can't take you anywhere.

posted by M. Giant 9:02 PM 9 comments


I'm still confused by the Banana Nut with Cat flavor.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 11, 2006 at 9:25 PM  

Cinnamon Juices and Lucious Liquish?!?!?!? No, and no, and no.

Also, are you saying that the second patent is underware you wear by inserting them into you? Because OH MY GOD that is wrong.

By Anonymous Aaron, at January 12, 2006 at 6:46 AM  

Wow. Yeah. So I just got done looking at the "novel attachment" patent. That's um... something.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 12, 2006 at 7:31 AM  

I really don't get Patent #6,832,983. I mean, I looked at it and everything, but I just don't see how it works. Or why you'd need it.

By Anonymous Jenny, at January 12, 2006 at 8:38 AM  

Or, why some batshit crazy person would rush out to patent this unique idea, as if someone else might steal it. Holy crap!

By Anonymous TB, at January 12, 2006 at 9:09 AM  

I was under the impression a patent just says, yes, you have thought of something that no one else has either thought of or has bothered to patent. These inventions just reinforce that I don't think a patent bestows any assumption of usefulness of said invention. I am very curious about what idea your friend's acquaintance patented! Lemonmaraine n cream indeed!

By Anonymous Mandy, at January 12, 2006 at 2:51 PM  

And I'm with Jenny about #6,832,983. Huh? Wha-?

By Anonymous Mandy, at January 12, 2006 at 2:59 PM  

I feel the need to point out that said patent was filed on April 1, 2002. If that's only a coincidence, then I'm joining the "WTF?" chorus.

By Anonymous Melewen, at January 14, 2006 at 3:09 PM  

A little late to the party, but so very confused. Can you actually buy those flavors somewhere> Banana and Cat? Popthatcherry? Who thinks of such things?

By Anonymous Terri, at January 30, 2006 at 8:49 PM  

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Sunday, January 08, 2006  

The Food-Poisoning Diet

As I write this, I think I’m about ten pounds lighter than I was during my last entry. How did I do it? Well, when I was brainstorming ideas for losing weight the other day, I forgot to mention a really quick method, one that’s worked for me in the past. And that’s to get a severe case of food poisoning.

This isn’t really the sort of thing you can plan, of course. It just kind of happens. That’s probably why I didn’t mention it before. And yet, it happened, on Friday night.

At first I thought the discomfort brewing in my belly was due to the beer I’d had. But then I remembered that that never happens. What was more likely is that I’d picked up the stomach bug that Trash and M. Small have been fighting for the past week. So I decided that the best thing to do was to go to bed early and hope to feel better when I woke up in the morning.

Well, I did wake up in the morning. 12:30 in the morning, to be exact. I was roused by the unmistakable sensation of my entire alimentary canal hollering, “That’s it! Everybody out! Right now!” I’ll spare you the details, but in the course of that long night in the bathroom, I suspect I lost five pounds out of each end. Eventually I began to suspect that the evil force that had me in its grip was not a mere virus, but the General Tao’s Chicken I’d gotten for lunch from the Chinese restaurant in the Skyway. Which is too bad, because I really like it.

After a few hours of this, M. Small woke up, so lucky, lucky Trash had to deal with that. I might have taken care of him, since I was already up and everything, but my focus at the time was, alas, on other matters. Again, Trash has been dealing with her own tummy flu for most of the week, and therefore hadn’t slept for more than a few hours since Tuesday. Great timing, food poisoning!

So Saturday morning rolled around. Trash was exhausted (and still not well), and I felt weak, wrung out, and totally hung over. M. Small, naturally, was over his illness and back to his usual, energetic self. And chasing a happy one-year-old around the house gets a little less fun when you feel like you were in a car accident the day before.

Nana and Grandpa to the rescue. Mom came yesterday afternoon and picked up M. Small for a sleepover at her house last night. I was in bed by five p.m. You know what I discovered at 9:30 this morning? Never underestimate the restorative powers of sixteen and a half hours’ sleep. I woke up feeling better, if still a little queasy at the thought of any food richer than a saltine cracker.

Trash also caught up on her sleep (although she wasn’t spectacularly lazy like I was), and we were happy to see M. Small when he came home this morning. I still couldn’t face a full meal right now, and my t-shirt is still hanging down in front rather than bulging outward. It’s like a pickpocket bumped into me downtown, but instead of lifting my wallet he slipped me a gastric bypass.

Although I would strongly advise you not to try this at home, I’m taking this as a really sick (literally) kick-off to my year of weight loss. I’m going to learn from the last time this happened, and not start bingeing on Oreos and ice cream as soon as I’m able, just because I can. I realize that most of what I lost was water, and that rehydrating probably bounced me back a bit. As miserable as I was on Friday night, it would be stupid of me not to take advantage of the fact that my weight-loss goal for the year was half-met before the week was a year old. I don’t want to throw that away.

Plus, it’s good to know that if I’m still tipping the scales too far in December, all I have to do is pick up an order of tasty, tasty General Tao’s Chicken.

Today’s best search phrase: “He grew a belly.” Bummer. Does he like Chinese takeout?

posted by M. Giant 1:25 PM 13 comments


Happened to me in June. It sounds like no big deal, but nothing else has ever made me so sick that I thought my death might actually be within sight. I'm glad you're feeling better now!

By Anonymous Wing Chun, at January 8, 2006 at 4:43 PM  

Ugh, happened to me in Brazil. I was sick for 3 days and still can't look at chicken salad the same way.

By Blogger Finding My New Normal, at January 8, 2006 at 5:54 PM  

I'm experiencing something similar yet different. As of Jan 1, I had 8 lbs to go before I meet my goal weight and I've been stalled at the same weight for months. Luckily (sort of), I got dumped on Jan 2! Lost 4 lbs by Jan 6. Half my goal in four days. I'll be over here in the corner, weeping...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 8, 2006 at 6:04 PM  

I have been sick all day, and I originally thought I poisoned myself with the dinner I made last night, but I actually think that I picked up a bug, since I am also sporting a fever. Maybe the bug Trash and M. Small have, even. Not as bad as what you're describing, but a milder example of the same thing.

By Blogger Linda, at January 8, 2006 at 6:27 PM  

who knew that the typically yummy ham and bacon pizza could turn on you... after a night in the hospital, the silver lining from this escapade was that it pretty much took care of the winter weight i had picked up. b/c the thought of eating anything for awhile, took care of picking the weight back up... at least until this winter.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 8, 2006 at 6:51 PM  

I had food poisoning a few weeks ago, and my daughter was only 3 months old. My husband was out of town. I was up all night shuffling between her room and the bathroom. I threw up on her bedroom floor twice.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2006 at 8:02 AM  

It's great that stories like your brings out the other similarly discomforting stories of others.

So, I'll share mine.

Back when my wife and I were new parents, we both got sick on the same night. Our trips to the bathroom woke up our daughter. We could barely get out of bed and had to resort to calling friends early in the morning to come and get months old baby so we could get some desperatly needed sleep.

(It sucks when parents are hundreds of miles away. But thank goodness for reliable friends!)

We were functional by the sunrise, so it worked out "okay."

By Blogger Burb, at January 9, 2006 at 8:30 AM  

My turn:
Easter, 2005. 10 month old child. In Washington, DC visiting my parents. We live in Indiana.

Saturday night, kid vomits on my mom's carpet. We hurry back to the hotel, put her down with some water in her, and pray. We feel peckish, so we order Domino's pizza.

Bad idea.

Sunday morning, kid is still exploding out both ends (double ear infection), and both of us have food poisoning from the pizza. And we have to drive 16 hours home.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2006 at 9:29 AM  

"I was roused by the unmistakable sensation of my entire alimentary canal hollering, 'That’s it! Everybody out! Right now!'"

Ah, yes. In my mind that sensation is usually accompanied by the whonking alarm of crisis in a submarine movie.

My contribution: when exactly DID I make that spaghetti with chicken sausage in the fridge? It can't be THAT old. But it was, alas.

By Blogger Kim, at January 9, 2006 at 11:45 AM  

It’s like a pickpocket bumped into me downtown, but instead of lifting my wallet he slipped me a gastric bypass.


I was roused by the unmistakable sensation of my entire alimentary canal hollering, 'That’s it! Everybody out! Right now!'

You can make anything funny. Gross, but funny.

By Anonymous Michelle, at January 9, 2006 at 12:07 PM  

M. Small's pictures are SO CUTE! I love that you set up a flickr account.

As for the food poisoning, just be glad you didn't eat bad tuna. I know, couldn't I tell it was bad? Not the FIRST time!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 10, 2006 at 7:03 AM  

UGH! That is horrible - my poor husband got food poisoning (don't eat Mexican food in Oregon...ever) while we were on vacation, visiting my best friend, her husband and their 2 year old and newborn. We were staying in their "guest cottage" which is the trailer they take on little trips. You know how SMALL and CARPETED those things are? We gave up and holed up in a hotel for a couple of days. I actually called my mother and poison control, not sure if I should take him to the ER or not. Hope you're up to eating some oatmeal soon! Bad Chicken! Bad!

By Blogger Meepers, at January 11, 2006 at 1:20 AM  

Vanuatu. There for ten days and ate at local establishments until two nights before leaving. Thought I'd play it 'safe' by eating in hotel restaurant. Big. Big. Mistake.

On my own. Boohoo and 'thank God' for that. Shooting out both ends at once. Standing in the bath and bent over the loo at the same time. Not a pretty sight. Not something I am willing to repeat for any amount of weight loss!

By Anonymous pandymonium, at January 11, 2006 at 8:58 PM  

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006  

I Ain't Your Brother

Well, it's been almost two months since I was diagnosed as "not quite obese," and decided to lose weight. And here's what I've done about it.

Decided to lose weight.

I'm pretty sure I know what happened. To cause the weight gain, I mean. Last year at about this time, I was at my (then) new job downtown. Every day, I parked a fifteen-minute walk away from work. Before I knew it, I was getting thinner, almost involuntarily. I quit watching what I ate, because I was obviously walking it off faster than I was putting it on. And then I got tired of being away from home an extra half-hour every day, so I started parking closer. A block away from the office, to be exact. This wouldn't have been a problem, except that I didn't start watching what I ate again. Once I shut off that will power, it's hard to turn it back on again. At least until New Year's, when everyone becomes filled with the resolve and the drive to do some serious leaf-turning. That's where I am now. Well, I'm proud to say that in my first work day of 2006, I didn't dip once into that huge basket of candy that's always spilling over its edges about three feet from my desk.

Yeah, that basket may also have been a factor.

It's harder than I expected, replacing that daily exercise I used to get. I don't want to start parking further away again, and taking the stairs isn't really an option. Even if I didn't work on the 24th floor, the fact that the stairwell exits are always locked makes it kind of a non-starter. Gym membership? No thanks; too much money for something I'll never use. And chasing and scooping up a one-year-old around the house doesn't get you feeling the burn like you might think, especially after you unplug the ankle-level night light that he's always grabbing for. I don't know how some people accomplish as much writing as they do and still manage to exercise. And you know who you are, you healthy, prolific fuckers.

I wish I could say that without a bunch of commercial-free HBO shows to recap this year, I'll find the time. But I know better. Even discounting my rotten habits in general, after 24's over for the year there's another project I'm going to be working on that's going to keep me in front of my keyboard for a while as well. So I just have to develop an exercise regimen that will integrate with my writing. A few brainstorming ideas:

- Set the laptop up on the control panel of the treadmill and write while walking. Advantages: will also develop upper body strength by constantly lifting up the laptop to see how much further I have to walk. Disadvantages: I'm a perspirer, and would probably have to invest in one of those keyboard-condoms you see at the oil-change place. Also, I am incredibly uncoordinated, and will probably end up flat on my face several times per sentence, of which every fourth word will be "76ytghbn58urfjv93oeksc,2-eolsx.z1-sl."

- Set up a wearable computing system so I can write while walking around the lake or something. Advantages: fresh air. Disadvantages: Expensive, probably unworkable, and likely to get me beaten up, robbed, and then beaten up again. Also, after losing the weight, it wouldn't fit me any more.

- Invent a giant computer keyboard like the piano keyboard in Big. Instantly, every recap will turn into the kinetic equivalent of a multi-hour round of Dance Dance Revolution. And you see how skinny those guys are. Advantages: Could get rich off the patent. Disadvantages: My study's not that big, I have no aptitude for inventing things that require anything more technical than Legos, and my lack of coordination means that every third word will be "76ytghbn58urfjv93oeksc,2-eolsx.z1-sl."

- Modify a pedometer so it can record steps made in Morse code, and then dictate my writing while walking around the neighborhood. Advantages: lightweight, and could download my writing when I get home. Disadvantages: see most of the above. Also, I would have to learn Morse code. And I would look like the Minister of Silly Walks, only to get home and probably have nothing to show for it except 76ytghbn58urfjv93oeksc2DASHeolsxSTOPz1DASHslSTOP."

Okay, screw it. Obviously I'm just going to have to cut down on the constant intake of junk food and soda.

At my physical, the doctor advised me to lose about twenty pounds this year. The thing is, I don't believe in scales. I mean, I believe in them in the sense that I accept their existence, but I don't think that knowing I'm up or down a pound or two in a given week or month is going to help me. It works for lots of people, and that's great; I just don't think I'm one of them. It's like when you're driving down a long, straight road. You focus on the pavement twenty feet in front of you, you're going to be making these little corrections all the time. I suspect my only hope is to look at this as a long-term goal, keeping my eye on the horizon -- that ridge at the end of this year, the one I'll reach when I'm twenty pounds lighter. It's either that, or I'll end up in a ditch and someone will have to haul me out with a winch. And maybe my car, as well.

Today's best search phrase: "Losing hair because of shabu shabu." Well, that might be a helpful idea or two right there. I could a) move to New York and slim down by walking to the Shabu Shabu restaurant every day, or b) shave my head. My last haircut was on Labor Day weekend, so that's probably good for a couple of pounds right there.

posted by M. Giant 9:35 PM 4 comments


How daRRRe you call me a 76ytghbn58urfjv93oeksc,2-eolsx.z1-sl. Don't you know this iis the gRRRavest iinsult foRRR us, the people of Kaboumbistan? You don't heaRRR me calling you a diRRRty gneiqso5x:i!RRRepopopo, do you? And iif you want to iinsult us, at least have the cuRRRtesy to do so coRRRectly: '76ytghbn58urfjv93oeksc2DASHeolsxSTOPz1DASHslSTOP' iis spelled wiith a 'vjf97' iin the middle iin the present tense, you ignoRRRant AmeRRRican!

By Anonymous Bart, at January 4, 2006 at 4:17 AM  

Dude, you only need to weigh yourself three times in the next year. Get a reading now, write down the number, and put it in a safe place. Then weigh yourself in six months and see whether you've lost 10 pounds. If you have, keep doing whatever you're doing at that time, and presumably by 12 months you'll have lost about 20 pounds.

If you're still on the chunky side of the curve after the first six months, then in the second six-month stretch it's more shake, less bake. More slavey, less gravy. Ramp up the Tae Bo, scale back the Ho Ho's. More elliptical, less... food.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at January 5, 2006 at 11:16 AM  

You know, unless you have gained like 100 pounds in the last 6 months, I think you might be *adding to your weight*, so to speak. I saw you in NY this last summer and you looked great - not overweight at all. Are you sure your doctor is a REAL doctor?

By Anonymous Melissa, at January 6, 2006 at 8:32 AM  

You also have to take into consideration that it's winter right now and you're not getting as much exercise, or maybe that's just me.

I hear ya though. Blaming my metabolism for slowing with age, or my scale for being wrong isn't going to help me lose 10 pounds. I like Feb's approach above.

By Anonymous TB, at January 6, 2006 at 11:33 AM  

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