Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Thursday, June 29, 2006 What's in a Name?
You won't believe the name of the guy who manages the ramp that I park in downtown.
His name is Major Smith Jr. III. I am not making up any of that. Except, incredibly, the "Smith" part.
Never mind the rarity of encountering a person with the first name of Major outside of Catch-22. I happen to think it's actually kind of a cool first name, even if it's not also its owner's middle and last name. It was probably more common in generations past, of course. Otherwise how does there ever get to be a Major Smith Jr. III?
For that matter, how does there ever get to be a person with a Jr. III tacked onto the end of any moniker at all? I understand Jr. and III separately -- or, more precisely, when applied to two separate people. Particularly when they are father and son. But how a person ends up as a Jr. III is completely beyond me.
Surely the key to unraveling this mystery is his father's name. Was he Major Smith Jr. Jr, born of Major Smith Jr. Sr.? And just how far down does this rabbit hole go? In order to know how many Major Smiths there have been, do I add the two represented by Jr. to the three represented by III to get five, or do I multiply the integers to get six? Or is Jr. III an unknown-to-me generational notation for 2½? And if so, how does that work?
I suppose the simplest explanation is the most likely one: that one day, plain old Major Smith woke up, decided his name wasn't impressive enough, and decided to add what he thought were a couple of honorofics to the end of it, then held onto them even after he graduated kindergarten. He probably even changed his middle name to Tom while he was at it. The problem with this theory is that it fails to explain how he eventually got a job managing a parking ramp.
These are the kinds of questions that occupy my tiny little mind during the short walk from my ramp to the office in the morning. Usually they're forgotten by the time I get in the elevator. But something happened the other day.
I stopped in to the office to pay my lease, and there was a young man of about eleven or twelve loitering around. "My dad will be right back," he said.
You're going to hate me, but I was afraid to ask the kid what his name was.
Not just because it would seem presumptuous, but because some part of me was genuinely afraid to find out. Was I looking at Major Smith Jr IV? Major Smith III III? Major Smith Jr. III Jr.? Major Smith9? Major Smith ?? Captain Smith Jr. III?
Sometimes I feel guilty for naming my son in such a way that everyone will call him by his middle name, just as they have me my whole life, and my father and grandfather and great-grandfather before me. But then I remember that it forces one to develop unique little ways of dealing with the world, without doing something as drastic as naming him Sue.
Perhaps this is what is behind the Smiths' unorthodox nomenclature. I'll never know, because I don't know them well enough to ask. The other upside to my ignorance is that this way, I can put my mind at ease by telling myself that as far as I know, the kid's name is Bobby. posted by M. Giant 8:51 PM 8 comments
My dad has a friend named Major. I just wanted to throw that out there.
Hmmm...I was reading Freakanomics the other day, and there's this in in, whic touches on a similar topic.
Hence, your son shall be known as:
My great-grandfather's name was Major. No one seems to have wanted to keep that tradition alive, or I could be naming my kid, well, no, since I'm a girl, but whatev.
Have you not heard of George Foreman, and his 18 kids.. George, George, George, George etc.?? Now THAT'S abuse
One of my math teachers at university was King James III. First name King, last name James. He was the third. It was really disorienting because he also had a PhD, therefore he was Dr. King James III.
I was horrified to discover that my great-great-great grandfather's name was Bushrod Parsons. He married a woman named Mabel Persons. Did she then become Mabel Persons Parsons?
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006 Dry Whites Season
Check out what we got last weekend:
Yes, I took y'all's advice and bought a new dryer last week. The guys delivered it Saturday morning, and then my dad came over to help me hook it up shortly thereafter. Mom even brought me some new shirts to not ruin in it. Not only did the new machine not ruin them, we got six loads of laundry done that afternoon and evening. With our old dryer, six loads of laundry would have taken approximately a year and a half. It was quite the exciting day.
But not because of that crap I just told you. It was because M. Small's morning went like this:
Awake. Come get me. Hi Mommy. Hi Daddy. Here's my pacifier. Breakfast. Done. TRUCK! TRUCK! OOOOH! BIG! TRUCK!
Trash took him straight from his feeding chair to the front walk, where he got to meet the delivery guys and even touch their great big white truck. One of the guys went over the paperwork with me in the house. The other one asked Trash if we wanted the box. Because Trash hadn't had her coffee yet, she couldn't think of a reason why we'd want it. Fortunately, the driver noticed that Trash was holding one in her arms. And then the driver even cut a door in the front and a couple of windows in the sides. Then we brought it into the house, where M. Small was kind enough to pose on his new threshold for a few photos:
Alas, my digital camera not only measures resolution in kilopixels, it also has about a two-second delay, which is about a second longer than he ever holds still I assure you that there were any number of cute moments when he was peering around the door.
This was about a half a second after one of them.
A man has a right to defend his home. Fortunately the object extending from his hand is the handle of his toy broom and not a shotgun barrel.
It took most of the weekend for me to get used to it being there, and to stop thinking every time I glanced into the living room that there was a short, squat person standing there. But now it's part of the décor. Additional bonus: less area to vacuum.
So now M. Small has a place of his own. Which is kind of ironic, considering he now has a lot more clean and dry and not-scorched clothes to leave the house in. posted by M. Giant 7:08 PM 3 comments
You know it's testimony as good parents, that you thought to take pictures of the box house (even at 7 & 9 my kids will play in a big box too) and yet did not take any pictures of the ridiculous grappler swimsuit.
My friend's daughter asked for a box for her 8th birthday. She said she missed her Christmas box, "Boxy," which had to be lovingly recycled in February due to excessive smelliness. That child watched TV in it, ate meals in it, and Febrezed it every night before bed.
When I was a kid, we had this refrigerator box made out of wood. My dad turned it into a playhouse, later it became a shed. They only tore it down last year. Companies these days just don't understand the need for permanence in a child's life.
Sunday, June 25, 2006 Fashion Plate
The life of a cover model isn't always glamorous. For example, we took M. Small up to the wading pool at the park today because we'd decided it was time for him to try out his new swimsuit.
This suit looked like such a good idea when we saw the ad for it in the paper. It's like a singlet, but it's got these two flotation pads sewn into the front and back to keep him afloat. Now that he's too big for his inner-tube-like floatie, this seemed like a fine alternative.
So today, after marinating him in SPF-million, I changed him into a pair of "Lil Swimmers" diapers and shoehorned him into the suit. After recovering from the sartorial horror of what I had wrought, I put him down on the floor and told him, "Go see Mommy!" and waited. The reaction I heard from the other room didn't disappoint.
Because here's the thing: the flotation pads effectively double the size of his torso. The only way you can be sure you even have it on the right way is the large logo on the front, and even with that it looks like it's on backwards. The bulky torso is electric blue, but the legs are knee-length, skin-tight, neon-green spandex, which would have made him look like he was running around on fluorescent pipe-cleaners if not for the fact that the Little Mermaid pattern on his swim diaper was showing faintly through the stretchy fabric.
"Are we really taking him out in public looking like this?" Trash asked me.
"He doesn't seem too embarrassed," I replied, and obviously he couldn't wait to get going.
"He looks like a tiny gay umpire superhero," Trash complained.
"He doesn't even know what most of those words mean, except tiny." I said. "And how big is M. Small?"
"Ohhh big!" M. Small crowed.
Trash loaded him into the wagon and headed to the park. I got the diaper bag with its change of clothes from my car, in case we didn't want to bring him home in his wet tiny gay umpire superhero costume. After I caught up with them I pointed to the red, floppy-brimmed number now strapped to his melon and said to Trash, "Good thing you butched up the outfit with his sunhat." The only bright side was that with his parents right there, he was unlikely to get beat up.
Swimming lasted about a minute, and not just because he dropped his car on the bottom of the pool and thought he could retrieve it himself; it also got cold. After a couple of minutes, we realized it was time to dry him off and get him dressed. My four-year-old niece Deniece and her dad came over to swim as well, and she didn't last any longer than our kid did. They went home (which is across the street) to get her changed, and I wished that I had made sure the diaper bag had an actual change of clothes in it.
Fortunately it did, although one should really check the clothes in one's child's diaper bag more than every four months. It's not that he couldn't fit into the blue-and-white-striped onesie and the sweatpants made for a one-year-old; it's just that we wouldn't have brought him out in public that way on purpose. At least not in an outfit that didn't float.
Compounding the issue was the fact that Trash had thought he should wear his sandals in the pool, so he didn't have anything dry to put on his feet. This is where it gets serendipitous.
When Deniece and her dad came back to play with us and M. Small at the park, they happened to bring with them a bag of Christmas gifts for him from Iowa relatives that had been at their house for a few months. Among the items inside were a pair of blue-and-yellow smiley-face bedroom slippers, complete with giant smiley-face pompoms on the toes. There was also a wool Weebok™ beanie with an elastic chinstrap, which was good because his sunhat had also gotten wet. In minutes he was hatted and shod and dressed, and the fact that it was in an outfit that made me want to beat him up was nobody's fault but my own. "We didn't plan this look," we wanted to tell the other parents at the park. As for M. Small, my opinion of his advanced mental development took a hit when it became apparent that he was totally unself-conscious about looking like some kind of weird Hanukah elf. Probably just as well, since it meant he was able to continue having fun instead of hiding under his wagon.
Yes, I did take a picture. No, I'm not posting it. I'd like my son to still speak to me when he's a teenager. posted by M. Giant 9:18 PM 12 comments
You pic-tease. I was all geared up to see the lovely boy in all his superhero glory :(
Oh, come on. I'm sure he'll find some *other* reason to be a surly adolescent...let's see the picture!
All this and NO picture?? C'mon M. Giant.. You dissapoint
You throw out that there's a picture, and then you DON'T share it???
Come on, M., show us the picture! You could take it down after one day - he would never know...
Put a black bar over his eyes. You can just deny it was really him.
Is it something like this plus a diaper? Just trying to help people get a visual. That's my nephew by the way.
Kim: Not quite. His has one giant floaty pad in front and one giant floaty pad in back, so instead of looking like the world's smallest suicide bomber, he looks like a squirmy day-glo sandwich.
I'm pretty sure that we have the same swimsuit for my son. We laughed so hard once wrestled him into it (and he put up a great fight)a couple of weeks ago because he did, indeed, look like a itsy-bitsy gay superhero. All that was needed was a Little Mermaid cape to match the Little Swimmers.
A better question than "Why would you tease us and then not post a picture?" is "Why would you put your son in Little Mermaid Little Swimmers, when there are Finding Nemo Little Swimmers readily available?"
Looking like the Hanukkah elf is better than looking like the Hanukkah Zombie.
Thursday, June 22, 2006 Labor-Saving, My Ass
I wasn't there when the dishwasher door broke six months ago. All I knew is that one day, I went to put something into the dishwasher, and the door swung down in something resembling freefall. I asked Trash if she had a theory. All she knew is that earlier that day, while opening or closing the dishwasher door she'd heard a metallic CLUNK/sproing emanating from somewhere in the bowels of the machine.
What I know about dishwashers is barely enough to get dishes clean, but I gathered my courage and my screwdrivers and started taking pieces off the front of the thing to see if I could figure out what had gone wrong. Before long, I'd gotten as far as I could without dragging the thing at least partway out of its little socket under the counter. And doing that was probably going to ruin that section of the new kitchen floor I'd just installed in 2002. I tried to figure out a way to pull it out without ruining the floor. I tried to actually pull it out without ruining the floor. I pulled it out. I ruined the floor.
But I was able to determine that the problem was the spring that attached the door to the frame. It had broken, leaving the door to swing free in a potentially toddler-crushing way. So I locked the dishwasher door, got right on the Internet, ordered a new door spring, and fixed it a few days later. And then I fixed the floor.
Even though, like I said, I wasn't there the first time the door broke, when I heard a metallic CLUNK/sproing emanating from somewhere in the bowels of the machine, I knew exactly what it was. And I certainly wasn't looking forward to fixing the floor again.
But I got back on the Internet and ordered a new door spring, wondering how I was going to fix this so it didn't happen every six months. Imagine my relief when I got it apart for the second time and found that there are actually two door springs, and the one that had failed was not the same one I had replaced six months before. An added bonus was the fact that I knew what I was doing this time, so it wasn't even necessary for me to wreck the floor again. I replaced the spring, light of heart. And I figured that as long as I was down there and had the circuit breaker shut off, I might as well adjust the height of the thing so the door doesn't hang down as far when it's open. Nothing simpler. I put it all back together and shut the door.
Okay, I tried to shut the door. But in my "cleverness," I had raised the dishwasher the eight of an inch it needed for the door to run into the board that runs across the top of the socket. Not cool.
I suppose I could have taken it all apart again and lowered it, but that would have been admitting defeat. Instead, I noticed that that board wasn't tightly attached to the bottom of the countertop directly above it. Fix that, I thought, and I would fix the problem.
I rooted through my toolbox for woodscrews that were exactly the right size; long enough to go through the board and bite into the wood of the countertop, but not long enough to rupture right through the formica of the upper surface. Eventually I found one. Yes, one. And I put it to work. I screwed that board right up to the countertop, allowing the dishwasher door to swing smoothly home.
What I failed to take into account is the fact that the top of the dishwasher has these two metal brackets coming out of it, which are screwed directly onto that selfsame board. Amazingly enough, the rocking of a sixty-pound appliance turns out to be sufficient to overcome the gripping power of one lone woodscrew. Soon the board was loose again, and I was back to using a spoon handle to lift the board out of the way of the door whenever I wanted to close it.
Now, my mother-in-law happened to be staying here and taking care of M. Small last week, and I had failed to explain to her the complicated situation with the dishwasher door. Fortunately, she either wasn't aware of a problem, or had discovered her own solution, which was to force the door into place, pushing that board back out of the way instead of over. I had to acknowledge the low-impact genius of this solution for a few days. But then we did a load of dishes on Sunday, and a good pint of dingy water ended up on the floor. So clearly it remained imperfect.
I didn't feel like rummaging around for more woodscrews, so Monday night I did what I should have done in the first place: I just ripped that stupid board right out of there. Now the door closed like a dream, with room to spare. Pleased with myself, I pulled the bottom rack out to load it. And the dishwasher promptly tipped forward.
Yes, thanks for asking, as a matter of fact I had failed to reattach those brackets to anything. But putting that board back just to screw the brackets to them seemed a grim process, not to mention the fact that the finesse-free way I'd gone about removing the board in the first place made the prospect of reinstalling it iffy at best (also not to mention that the way it was jammed in there had all the earmarks of the work of Dr. Jellyfinger). So I just screwed the brackets to the bottom of the countertop instead. Imagine my joy when I'd gotten them screwed in tight, and the points of the screws were still not protruding from my countertop.
So it works, as far as I know, as long as by "works" you mean "the door closes." As to its watertightness, I've only done one load, but so far so good. But this time, if anything goes wrong, I'll know exactly what to do. Call a repairman. posted by M. Giant 9:28 PM 4 comments
Is it ever a good sign when "sproing" emanates from a piece of machinery?
Good job! I would have never fixed that!
Hey, I think I saw this episode of the Cosby Show!
When I first started reading your post, my initial thought was wuh-oh, this is an awful lot like a major plot twist in Zach Braff's movie "Garden State." Glad it got fixed before any tragic turn of events occurred.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006 Cover Boy
A few weeks ago, Trash sent off a photo of M. Small to a photo contest for Adoptive Families magazine. The photo was this one:
And yet somehow we didn't win.
What was nice, though, was that they called to tell us that we didn't win. And also that they wanted to put our son on the cover instead. Somehow we managed to contain our disappointment.
Since this magazine is based in New York, they had to send a local photographer over to our house for the shoot. We picked out some clothes (for M. Small; the photographer was already dressed) and made the short drive over to the Rose Garden to take some pictures.
It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day, perfect for outdoor photographs. The photographer asked us how M. Small likes having his picture taken. Apparently some kids hate cameras, and freak right out at the sight of one. Was M. Small one of those, the photographer wondered? If we'd had it handy, we would have simply showed him this:
If he hadn't believed us, he would have been convinced the second we hit the grounds and he broke out his cameras. M. Small immediately went to work like a little pro, smelling the flowers for the camera, smiling over the flowers at the camera, holding out flowers to the camera, turning around and glancing coquettishly over his shoulder at the camera. He was in his element. Meanwhile, Trash and M. Small's birth mom and I trundled along behind the artist and his subject, schlepping his diaper bag and blanket and sun hat and snacks, just like the production assistants we'd somehow become.
I don't know if the photographer got anything useful during what I call the "ham" period of the search, or if M. Small looked too polished and poised and fake despite no coaching whatsoever. The photographer clearly worked with kids a lot, because even when M. Small was dashing from one M. Small-staged photo op to the next, the guy would snap his digital camera one-handed from the hip, two or three frames per second. Sometimes even from the knee, which means there could be any number of low-angle shots of our kid King Konging across the grass.
Performing became a lower priority, however, the instant he spotted the fountain. He ran right over, plunged his arms in up to the elbows, and went to work trying to destroy thousands of dollars of digital photography equipment by splashing at it. Fortunately the front of his overalls got a lot more soaked than the cameras did (immediately qualifying him for the cover of Entertainment Weekly instead), but the guy still switched to a telephoto lens for some shots from the far side of the fountain. He claimed it was in the interests of composition, but none of us were fooled. Even M. Small. Then we changed him, shot a few more of whatever the digital equivalent of "rolls" is, and that was a wrap.
We haven't seen any of the proofs yet, although the magazine's art director says there are half a dozen really good ones, as opposed to the one or two they normally get during a shoot. I told Trash, "You know, these guys must be so jaded about baby pictures by now. They're wading hip-deep in them, forty hours a week, like the guys at Playboy do with boobs. And you just know that they're all gathered around the monitor looking at pictures of our son and going, 'Awwww.'"
Maybe if you're nice I'll put up a picture of the cover when it comes out. posted by M. Giant 7:26 PM 9 comments
I think this warrants a name change: M. Superstar.
If he starts throwing cell phones at you, you're going to need to have a serious discussion about diva-like behavior. ;-)
His birth mom is still a part of his life? Would love to have an entry on how that works out for you all. How lovely.
Did we know that you have an open adoption? How wonderful, really. Do you get to see her often, or is it just once or twice a year? How do the bparent(s) feel about being mentioned in the blog? I would also love to hear about the relationship, but we understand if it makes anyone feel uncomfortable. Good for you guys.
That? IS SO COOL. Well, it will be until he starts insisting that you separate his M&Ms by color. Then he'll start asking people to not make eye contact with him unless specifically granted permission to do so.
Have you ever considered turning the story of M. Small into a book or article? It's such a magical story, I think that there would be a lot of people who would like to read it.
Oh, the arm chub. *melts*
I wanna snorgle (tm CuteOverload) the arm chub too! M. Giant, would you mind if I chew on your child?
Oh! He is too, too, too cute! First I was upset when I read that he didn't win the contest, but the cover is even better! I can't wait to see the pictures.
Saturday, June 17, 2006 Look Who's Talking
M. Small is learning words faster than we can keep track of them. Which is good. Soon he'll be able to tell us exactly what's wrong when something's bothering him, which means no more crying, ever. That'll be nice. He'll probably cry less, too.
We're communicating better in ways aside from his expanding vocabulary. He can ask what's happening or what we're doing simply by saying, "Happening?" or "Doing?" Sometimes we'll even get a few words into an answer before he gets bored and walks away.
Conversely, I can ask him yes or no questions, and he'll actually answer "yes" or "no." Well, more likely "no," but it's still fun. That's either because the novelty hasn't worn off for me yet, or because I appreciate that when I ask him if he wants a bath or dinner or to go to bed, I'll know in advance whether he's likely to scream when I pick him up to do it anyway.
I suppose it's inevitable that when a child is trying to learn how to talk while living in a house with two people who always call each other "honey," he's going to use that word too. That doesn't stop it from sounding weird when your one-and-a-half-year-old calls you "honey."
He especially does it when he wants something. That means we're often hearing things like "Honey, please, cookie."
We like to give him a snack when he does that, because he is saying "please."
(I know that makes it sound like he must be hopped up on sugar all the time, but to him a "cookie" is anything crunchy and tasty, from crackers to cereal to grapes to…well, cookies. Just like all other fruit is "apple," all vegetables are "peas" and all beverages are "milk," except of course for "Night Train.")
But we're also careful to say, "No, I'm Mommy," or "No, I'm Daddy." Depending largely on which of us is speaking.
If he really wants something, he might say who it's for. As in, "a cookie for the baby." But of course the "please" and the "honey" stay in there, so it comes out sounding like, "Cookie, please, honey baby!"
And then sometimes his mom will remind him that she's not Honey, she's Mommy, and M. Small will modify his approach: "Cookie, please, honey baby mama!"
I'm just waiting for the next inevitable stage in cookie begging:
"Please, honey baby mama! Ike's so sorry, Ike never meant to hurt you, baby darlin'. Please, baby, come back to Ike and give Ike a cookie."
After which there will be nowhere to go but:
"Baby mama, don't make Ike mad, now."
So we're trying to head that off by mellowing his speech patterns a bit. There's one word that he picked up last month, and I honestly can't understand why it took so long, considering how often he hears it. I'm now trying to encourage the use of it whenever possible, even though it never seems to come out quite right. It's just too intense when he says it, like it's taking his full concentration to pronounce the word "DOOD." Which completely defeats the purpose, of course. The lesson won't be completely learned until he can use the word "dude" in all 524 of its meanings. But I'm hoping he'll be able to manage at least three of them by his second birthday. posted by M. Giant 7:16 PM 8 comments
I just love when wee children come out with the word "dude." Likewise "groovy." And "peace out." Not enough do, alas.
I called my dad "honey" for the longest time. I don't think my parents ever made an effort to correct me. There's great footage of me at my second birthday when my (scary!) grandfather comes up to me and tries to smother me, and I just stand there in distress yelling, "HOOOOONEY! HOOOOONEY!!"
I had an uncle who always gave the thumbs up to his kids when saying "hey dude" to them...to this day they will still announce after hurting a thumb that their "dude" hurts. I'm sure the literary geniuses that you both are-things would never escalate to that. M. will probably be giving medical terms for extremeties long before other children notice they have them!
When my niece and nephew were little, the phrase "talk to the hand" was being bandied about fairly frequently, so as a joke I taught them to say it; complete with hand gesture, of course (palm out, in the face of the person being told). All very funny, but it got immeasurably funnier the day they both ran up to me yelling "Talk to the hand!" with their hands up in my face, and then proceeded to say "No, talk to it! Talk to the hand!" when I didn't yell "hello" into their outstretched palms.
I haven't noticed a decrease in the crying since the talking began. But walking into a room and getting a "Dude, What up!" from my three-year-old is a major highlight.
Thank you - I haven't laughed out loud like that in a long time!
My daughter is about month and a half older than yours, so when you talk about all of M.Small's activities and new skills, I'm always grinning and remembering when my little one did that, or mentally noting that she hasn't done it yet.
eek. I meant, a month and a half older than *your child*. I understand that M.Small is a boy.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 Things Will Be Great When You're Downtown
I've been known to make fun of Linda on occasion for her ability to get lost in Downtown Minneapolis. But I can't really do that any more, and finally the reason can be told.
Trash's job situation was kind of up in the air for a couple of months there. It's not that her job might not have been there for her. Or that other jobs weren't there for her. It was, and they were. It sounds like a good problem to have, but it was tough for Trash. She feels uncomfortable with being overly in demand. You'd think she'd be used to it by now.
So anyway, back in April, she went to an all-day job interview. Since it was downtown, she rode in with me when I went to work. She was supposed to be there at nine, and since I planned to park in my ramp by 8:15, she'd have plenty of time to get where she was going.
I parked at my regular ramp on 9th and LaSalle at the regular time, on level one and a half. We walked down the ramp to street level. I should say that I walked; Trash hobbled. This was only days after she'd stepped off her mom's patio the wrong way and come up lame.
"Are you sure you don't just want me to drop you off there?" I asked, not for the first time that morning. Again, she declined, wanting to make sure I got to work on time. But this time she asked where the address was in terms of blocks from our current location. Based on the letterhead she'd shown me, I figured that her destination -- on Fifth Street and Second Avenue -- was four blocks up and three blocks over. And by the time she reached the sidewalk on Ninth Street, she had wisely decided that she wasn't going to make it.
"Do you want to wait right here and I'll come back with the car?" I offered, in all sincerity. Trash refused. She insisted on walking back to the car under her own steam. We hopped in (okay, I hopped in) and I drove her the short distance to Fifth Street and Second Avenue. Which, given that it was morning rush hour and Downtown Minneapolis is a maze of arbitrarily one-way streets, took about ten minutes.
I dropped her off at the intersection. She couldn't see the place she was going to, but we both figured it was inside one of the buildings on that block. This block, by the way, was familiar ground to both of us; I had worked in the building across the street for three and a half years, and Trash had worked in it even longer, on two separate stints. She was nervous about her interview, but it was somehow reassuring that it was on familiar territory.
That's why it was so funny when I drove all the way back and was just about to turn into my parking ramp and she called me on my cell phone from where I'd dropped her off, on Fifth Street and Second Avenue.
"It's on Fifth Avenue and Second Street!" she said in a panic.
The Google Map in my head zoomed out from her current location, realigned to three more blocks over and four blocks further up (the latter thanks to Washington Avenue, which isn't numbered), way the hell up to the Riverfront. I glanced at the clock on my dash and flashed on Trash's lopsided stride, and said, "I'll be right back. Wait for me exactly where I dropped you off." I called my boss and told her I was running late, then circled back.
Ten minutes later, she was back in my shotgun seat, laughing at our damn-foolishness. There were no recriminations on either side, because we'd both seen the same address and both come to the same conclusion. Nothing for it now but to get her there. And get her there we did. Although she was a little gunshy about getting out of the car a second time.
"Are you sure we have the right place this time?" she asked me.
"Positive," I said.
"How can you be sure?"
"Because of the building and the sign with the name of the company on it right over there," I said. Surprisingly, this seemed to satisfy her. She still arrived early, and I wasn't even all that late to work myself. But only because I don't have a firmly scheduled start time.
The interview went well, because a few weeks later they made her an offer. Which she turned down, having just accepted another offer. By the end of the summer, she's going to be carpooling downtown with me every day. Which is good. I figure that with the two of us working together, we minimize our chances of getting lost.
Or possibly double them. I haven't done the actual math yet. posted by M. Giant 9:12 PM 2 comments
Revenge is mine!
Hey, sweet! It turns out I'll be working downtown too... we should power-lunch. Or dinner (some of my day will start at 11pm).
Saturday, June 10, 2006 Dew It
Part of what's cool about being married to a librarian is that when the time of year rolls around for Pamie's annual book drive, it's like Christmas, Passover, and her mom's birthday all in one.
This year's is especially close to our heart. We spent most of last September being devastated (in between being pissed off) about what Hurricane Katrina had done to our beloved New Orleans. It never even occurred to us what it must have done to the libraries all along the Gulf Coast.
Okay, I take that back. It never occurred to me.
If it never occurred to you either, check this out. Want to do something about it? Click the link. After that it's easy.
Well, easier than rebuilding an inundated library, at least.
P.S. We're not just putting this on you. In addition to what we've donated, Any revenue I get from my ads for June will go towards book donations. In other words, you can help get books to kids just by clicking ads. So there. posted by M. Giant 8:01 PM 1 comments
When I grow up, I want to be cool like you.
Friday, June 09, 2006 Spin Cycle
One of the great things about having a blog is that you can ask your readers any old question, and generally they'll know the answer. Or, if they don't, they'll make one up. Especially of one of those readers is me. This can be entertaining as well. I don't care. Either way, I'm at the end of my rope and I need y'all's help. The question is as follows:
Why does my dryer keep ruining my shirts?
It's gotten to the point where I only dare buy shirts with button-down collars. This is because inevitably, my lighter-colored, non-button down shirts end up with these ugly-ass scorch marks on the collar points, making me look like I was leaning way too close to a cup of hot chocolate. It's less noticeable on the darker-colored shirts (which are, by default, becoming the majority of my wardrobe), but it still happens.
And even the button-down shirts aren't safe. A lot of them are getting random scorch marks just wherever. They're kind of pinched and sharp-looking, like a baby dragon blotted its lipstick on the fabric.
So be straight with me. I don't think it's because I'm overloading the machine, because it happens regardless of the size of the load. And if I need to just get a new one, I won't exactly be heartbroken. The thing's coming up on thirteen years old now, takes at least three cycles to dry anything on low, and has a maximum spin time of fifty minutes in any mode other than "shrink." Tell me the truth. I can take it.
Or just make shit up. I can take that too. posted by M. Giant 7:16 PM 15 comments
Also, Trash has been asking, begging, and imploring M. Giant to buy a new drier for the last 2 years. But you don't have to take that into account when answering him...
It might be that your dryer is scratched up on the inside, and is burning your clothes. You can get enamel repair spray paint at a hardware store, I think.
The time has come to wave good-bye to your old dryer and buy a new one, M. Giant.
I'm with Trash - kick it to the curb. After all, you have all of the extra recapping money you didn't expect.
Buy a new dryer. It's cheaper than having to deal with shirts catching on fire in your dryer, which is the next step after the scorch marks, according to the experiences of a friend of mine. 13 years is old for a dryer these days, and I agree that it will help your electricity bill by more than you expect.
Yep, time for a new one. I once had one that was doing that, and then to avoid feeling left out the washing machine started leaving grease stains on my white shirts too, but luckily they had come with the apartment so the landlord wound up just replacing them with new appliances (after I threatened to have him replace my entire wardrobe every week, of course...)
I highly suggest the Whirlpool Duet... We recently bought one and even though it's a little more expensive, it was totally worth it.
As the dryer ages, the, uh, barrel part sort of loosens from the, uh, casing (sorry, dude, I don't know the proper dryer terminology) and your clothes get pinched in between the two. In my house we call 'em dryer bites. I imagine a new dryer is the way to go.
Go down to the appliance store (not Conn's, their repair and installation guys are lazy asses who don't do jack) and buy a Maytag. Not even a fancy one, just any Maytag. They last longer. I also have had a good run with my G.E. dryer, but I've only had it for four years, so I don't know yet what kind of life expectancy it has.
Dude. Seriously. A dryer that routinely scorches things is a little like a garbage disposal that hurls compost back out into the kitchen. Stop enabling this horrid machine. It's never going to change. Unless it's the worn-out enamel thing, and the collar points are getting sucked or wedged into little vent holes.
First off, "Febrifuge" is now Anthrofuge's arch-enemy.
OMFG, Chao, it has officially been too long for us to have gone without a face-to-face meeting. Not to mention, I just got done with my year in New England, during which I honed my foosball skills to a surgical point. It is on.
you might want to make sure your vent is not clogged first before you spend money on a new dryer. Although if it scorches your shirts it might already be damaged. My house was built in the seventies had a laundry closet in the middle of the house with a vent going up to the roof that was clogged and far too narrow for our gas dryer. We ended up adding a laundry room (and a sewing room too!!) because it took at least 210 minutes to dry a small load.
oh and another thing with increased efficiency of the new dryer. decreased drying times and not having to buy new unscorched shirts you will be saving money and a new dryer will pay for itself. My husband is an engineer and i know all the good arguements involve research and reason.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006 Remote Possibilities (Part 2)
My wife and remote controls don’t often get along very well. Not just TV and VCR remote controls, mind you. I mean remote controls of any kind at all.
Like the ones for our cars, for instance.
For years, she only had one keyless remote on her keychain, and that was the one that opens my car. It’s not that she drives my car that often; it’s just handy for me to have a backup fob for when I can’t find my own keys. Or at least it was.
One day a couple of years ago, my keys had gone missing again. I found hers before my own turned up, and I headed out, letting her know I was borrowing them. She said fine. Not warning me or anything.
Because when I got out to the driveway and pressed the button, nothing happened. Even the resistance that normally meets the press of the button? Didn’t happen. And now that I thought of it, the weight of that little key fob seemed a little slight. Perhaps someone had stolen the battery out of is as some sort of incredibly oblique prank? I popped it open, and indeed, the little silver button battery was nowhere to be seen. As indeed were the entire rest of the key-fob’s guts. I was holding a plastic shell with buttons.
Who would steal the guts out of a key fob? I wondered, and then remembered. Remembered that the week before, Trash had dropped her keys down the elevator shaft at work.
She had told me about it at the time, that one brief moment of panic when she was just walking onto the elevator and the keys slipped out of her hand, directly towards the gap between the door track and the floor. And then the moment of relief as she realized that the ridiculous array of crap she lugs around on the thing would certainly prevent it from falling through. And then the moment of vindication as it hung up on the edge. And then the moment of panic as the whole Katamaru Damacy-looking assembly wiggled loose and vanished, inches from her outstretched fingers.
She managed to get the building maintenance crew to fish it out of the bottom of the shaft the next day, but it wasn’t the same. Even though she only worked on the fourth floor. Her Barbarella key ring, a tiny little lizard-shaped beanbag, any number of other purse-weighting accoutrements were gone forever. Along with the guts to her remote for my car.
When we bought her car last summer, she got a remote-control key fob of her very own. It looks just like mine, except that where my buttons say “lock” and “unlock,” hers have little padlock-shaped icons representing the functions thereof. That’s really the only way to tell them apart. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve headed out to my car at the end of a long day, tried to unlock it remotely without taking my keys out of my pocket, only to find out that I’d been pressing the button to unlock Trash’s car, which would have been six to ten miles away at the time. How many car thieves have been foiled only by the remote’s limited range?
And now it turns out that the remote has a limited lifespan. Trash hasn’t had the car for a year, but the battery in her key fob is already dead. So she swapped hers for mine. Key fob, I mean, not car.
Now I need to remember to go to the Saturn dealership downtown (we have one in the Skyway, if you believe that shit), and get a new battery for her key fob. I would suggest that Trash do it on one of the days when she works downtown too, but now she’s on the 27th floor. I don’t think anything could survive a fall that high. posted by M. Giant 8:46 PM 2 comments
FYI - you can actually buy a battery at Target, or whatever electronics store you have there.
Dropping the keys down the skinny space in front of an elevator (or the grate in the street) is right up there in my Worst Fears In Daily Life. Glad Trash could get her keys back, though!
Monday, June 05, 2006 Remember this thing I said last week?
I of course know that it's only a matter of time before I start missing recapping again. Weeks, if not days. In fact, if the bosses offered me a summer show tomorrow I'd jump at it.
You guessed it. Wing offered me a show the next day and I jumped at it. So starting this Thursday, I’m going to be recapping NBC’s Windfall. It’s the new summer show where Luke Perry and a bunch of randoms and 24 alumnae win the lottery. Except I don’t see how they’re going to win it every week; that seems a little unlikely.
Anyway, sign up for the mailing list, post on the boards, all that stuff.
Of course, this means that all the stuff I was planning to get done over the summer has to get done this week instead. Trash was leaving town on business yesterday, M. Small was spending the night at my mom’s house, and Trash asked me what I planned to do with my evening.
“Oh, you know. Do some trimming in the backyard. Fix the dishwasher door. Fix the basement ceiling behind the bar.”
A couple of hours later, when I was scrambling around on stepladders and the garage roof with a sharp saw, and then later swinging an axe at them in such a way that one false move on my part could sever a foot or a femoral artery, I wondered why Trash hadn’t objected to this plan. Normally if my clumsy ass is getting up to that kind of shit, she likes it to happen when she’s home and available to take me to the hospital. But since she wasn’t, I was extra careful. I had my cell phone in one pocket of my cargo shorts and our cordless handset in the other; I always got down off the ladder before moving it; when I sawed off a branch, I made sure that I was sitting on the side of the cut closest to the trunk; I climbed high enough to reach even higher branches with a saw, rather than wildly swinging the axe one-handed over my head. Even though I figured the next door neighbor could take me in an emergency, there was no point in being careless.
After I was done, and there was that much more sun in our back yard, the neighbor came out and asked what I’d been doing. “Just defiling nature,” I explained. I was glad I didn’t have to ask him to take me to the hospital.
Oh, and I also didn’t electrocute myself while fucking around with the dishwasher, or with the ceiling light fixtures and outlet in the basement ceiling. Go me. Now if I can just get this posted without the HTML being hopelessly fubared on the first try, I can call these past few days a complete success. posted by M. Giant 8:31 PM 3 comments
Sweet work there, ace. Kick back and enjoy a beverage.
I was considering whether or not to watch Windfall, leaning toward yes, just to see if ol' Luke still has... whatever he had.
I am ridiculously excited you're recapping something that I'm watching.
Sunday, June 04, 2006 You want to read something depressing? Check this shit out, from Yahoo! News:
And, over in taking-reality-television-way-too-seriously-land, a Plattsburgh, New York man was arrested after hitting his mother with a sharp object attached to a bicycle chain during a heated Idol discussion on May 24, the night of Hicks' triumph over Katharine McPhee.
According to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican, 24-year-old Cory Favreau was talking with his mother, Jan Chagnon, about the result and took issue with her comment that McPhee would likely have a successful career despite her second place finish.
In response, Favreau allegedly swung his makeshift weapon at Chagnon, cutting her head and sending her to a local hospital where she was treated and released. Alcohol was believed to be a factor in the altercation.
Seriously, how sad is it that this is the state of modern journalism? We really aren’t given nearly enough information to make sense of this story. Is Favreau a hater or a Katharine McPhan? Was he angry with his mom for shattering his illusion that her career is over, or for minimizing the tragedy of her loss?
And what about that bike chain weapon? Did he go out into the garage, take a chain off a bike, attach something sharp to it, and come back in twenty minutes later while Moms was absorbed in a Yes, Dear? rerun? Or does she let him keep his bicycle chain weapon at the ready, hanging from a hook in the TV room? Or even resting in his lap so that as the stress and suspense of the American Idol finale builds to a climax, he can nervously tell the links like Rosary beads? If it’s the latter, then that’s a house rule she may want to consider rethinking.
But of course we have no way of knowing, because the J-schools are cranking out hacks these days. Thanks a lot, Yahoo! News. You yahoos. posted by M. Giant 8:43 PM 3 comments
You neglected to point out the key word "achohol" in that story...just going to show what a few seemingly harmless PBR's will do to a perfectly normal Idol fan family. It could happen to you!!
Before you go ahead and attack journalists en masse, consider that often police departments are less than forthcoming with details in incidents such as these.
Friday, June 02, 2006 Hitting Bottom
My office has a candy basket which is constantly kept stocked. I suspect that this basket is the primary reason that I haven't been able to maintain my puking-related weight loss on a long-term basis. That damn thing has been a fixture right across the aisle from my desk for a year now.
This shouldn’t be the ongoing problem that it is. But I think that my coping mechanism for dealing with easily accessible junk food is inherently flawed. That system is this: I eat it as quickly as I reasonably can so that I don't have to deal with the temptation/satiation/guilt cycle it triggers. But that only works in situations where, when the candy basket gets emptied, it stays empty. But no, I have to work with all of these proactive people who dash right across the street to Target the minute we hit bottom.
And do I contribute to the candy fund? I do. It's only fair, since I eat the stuff like everyone else. And since I helped pay for what's in there, I feel like I have a right, if not an obligation, to partake. What I should do is quit kicking in. Then I couldn't in good conscience take any candy at all. That's what I did for a couple of months, when my New Year's resolve was still strong. It's an ideal plan. It's perfect. Its only flaw is that when I don't kick in, I can't in good conscience take any candy at all.
I do draw lines for myself. I always get up out of my chair and walk to the basket, even though I'm close enough to wheel over. I figure that if I'm going to scoop up a giant double handful of fun-size Butterfingers, I might as well walk some of the calories off in the ten-foot-round-trip hike. And I have promised myself this: when I become too fat to fit through my cubicle door to reach the candy, in the first place, I will cut down.
But really, all this is just a setup for a weird thing that happened regarding the candy basket.
A popular item in the basket is Starburst, probably because we can kid ourselves that they're somehow better for us than chocolate. Fruit's healthy, right? Except a couple of weeks ago, something happened to drive home how not-fruit they really are.
The cherry-flavored and strawberry-flavored ones are the most popular. The women in my department (by which I mean everyone in my department whose not me, and yes, my cycle is synced with theirs) love love love the little pink squares. Except that the strawberry Starbursts from two bags ago were wrong.
I tried one, and at first I was like, "Wow, you guys have been eating way too many of these if you can tell something's off," but they told me to wait a minute. "Okay," I said, and the conversation moved on.
A minute later, I said, "Okay, that's wrong," because somehow the strawberry flavor in my mouth had morphed into mint. I have nothing against mint, mind you. I like mint. It just doesn't go with artificial strawberry flavor. The combination is unnatural. I realize how that sounds when we're talking about little squares of rubber that you chew to simulate fake fruit taste, but it just ain't right. And the whole bag was like that. All of the other, less popular flavors were fine, but those strawberry ones would just turn on you.
Soon the strawberry Starbursts had been culled out, and were piled in a little leper colony on the file cabinet right next to the basket. Whenever someone would visit the basket, they'd see them sitting there and wonder, "Were the strawberry ones naughty?" We'd explain, and they'd never believe us. Until they were halfway to their desks, that is. After a week or so, the word was out and that little quarantine pile stopped shrinking.
And we all wondered, was this some formula change? Is this the flavor of strawberry Starbursts forevermore? And if so, is life really worth living?
Fortunately, the next bag of Starbursts tasted totally fine. After a day or so, we could state with confidence that every strawberry chew in the bag tasted perfectly normal. We just concluded that somehow, down at the Starburst factory, some of the wrong artificial flavoring got mixed into the wrong vat. It happens sometimes.
In fact, we got off lucky. Nobody even believed me when I told them about the time that Trash got a box of Nerds that tasted like meat. posted by M. Giant 8:08 PM 4 comments
Believe it or not, they did this on purpose. The good folks at Starburst have put out a limited edition of "Icy Bursts", which are basically fruit + mint.
Polly's right, and the Icy Burst have been around since March, I believe. I think it was a tie-in with the new Ice Age movie or something. Hate them, myself, and the pinks are normally my favorite.
If only you knew how my day was going. I was searching for one thing and I ended up here. Now you see how that might affect me!
My dad's office has a candy basket that everybody contributes to. Actually there are a couple, which shows just how much they love candy. His excuse is that the basket with the best stuff is on the other side of the building, so he has to walk off quite a few calories before he loads up on mini Snickers and Tootsie rolls. I think it's also his excuse for avoiding work.