Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A what-er shade of what?

Once again, Ob is focusing on the wrong part of his job. His latest (ahem) brilliant idea is to blazon the tractor trailer used to transport his collected paper and cardboard to El Paso with a slogan that encourages everyone to recycle. It is, "A greener shade of blue."

My initial reaction was, "Huh?" Then I remembered that he's a Baby Boomer, so he must be thinking of the 1967 song "A Whiter Shade of Pale". He probably smoked a bit too much back then, too. Why else would he think that a university whose official colors are crimson and white would be instantly thought of when you mention the color blue or green?

He also put this URL on the side; it links to a company which calls itself "Engineers and Consultants in Resource Management", not anything that actually has to do with Aggie Recycling.

As always, it's up to me to be the paragon of recycling on campus. Let's try this.
How much of your body could be recycled?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Busy Sunday

1) Washed my car.
2) Made brownies.
3) Put out my farolitos.
4) Went to a new restaurant and saw three people I know. (See what happens when you get me out of the house?)
5) Watched a few episodes on one of my Scooby-Doo DVD's.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Perspectives on Work

As humble as I claim to be, I seem to be making myself feel more important at work. Maybe it's just a defense mechanism, to say that I must be important because I'm doing more people's work. This, though, puts me in my appropriate place.

On a different matter I've griped about, I have confirmation that it's not I who's the cause of stress and anxiety in the office. Tweety came to me yesterday and said, "I'm sorry for the way Sub treated you yesterday." Ergo, if someone who works in a different building comes in for just five minutes and observes a behavior, it must be Sub.

Finally, I offer this one which exemplifies Sub's behavior toward our client. Of course, I think Sub's head is completely inside the client's tuckus by this point.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting my money's worth

...and yours, and yours -- oh, and a little bit of yours...

I tend to buy more groceries when they are on sale. If they're non-perishable, they can sit in my pantry for a while. If they can be frozen, I'll store some away there, too. Even some fruit can be stored in your refrigerator longer than you think because it's harvested so early.

My grocery store receipt shows how much I paid and then how much I "saved" by buying sale items and bringing my own shopping bags. (It doesn't show how much I saved by buying the store brands rather than name brands.) For the first time, my savings totaled up to more than the money I spent.

I bought cookie mix, snack crackers, Cheetos, yogurt, butter, eggs, milk, bread, deodorant, leftover Halloween candy, lunchmeat, bananas, and grapes (41 items). I spent $53.81. I saved $57.08.

Try this system; it works. You won't always save that much in comparison to what you spend, but it's better than paying full price.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just call me Little Tommy Tucker.

Thing One is dyslexic, so I have become used to checking spelling for her before she prints a document. This time, though, she trusted the spell-checker for the notice of our annual Thanksgiving pot-luck. I get to tease her now because we have to write our names on the "sing-up list".

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh, the humanity!

Okay, so no one was severely injured, but think of all the plants that died.

There was a fire yesterday at Aldershot, a major plant greenhouse south of Las Cruces. This was the place that horticulture students got dragged to semester after semester when I was in school. They are (or were) the largest decorative mum producer in the U.S. You see those plants in the grocery store? They probably were grown right here.

Kind of makes me wonder, though, where am I supposed to get the poinsettias to decorate the stage at December's commencement?


How many of you work in a place that has those giant toilet paper rolls in the bathroom? I applaud that they need replacing far less often, allowing the custodian time to do something besides carry toilet paper throughout his/her shift, but I have concerns with them, too.

I presume that the same companies that make toilet paper for us to buy at the store are the same ones that make it in the mondo-mega-rolls. Why, then, do they not perforate the sheets as they do in the homeowner version? I have to yank the end of the roll against a serrate edge of the paper holder, and it never tears neatly. Half the time, the paper tears the wrong way, and I end up with two, foot-long strips of paper that are only an inch and a half wide. What good is that?

Alternatively, I yank the paper, and it doesn't tear at all. The roll just spins, sending paper rappelling to the floor -- and I certainly don't want something that's touched the floor of our restroom to then touch my nether regions. Do you?

Another possibility is that, no matter what you do, the paper just won't tear as it's intended, so you have to grab it in your hands and rip. I've done this, and I know that other people have, too, because then the available end of the roll is squeezed together. It makes me hope that the person before me had clean hands before going into the bathroom.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I've always liked libraries.

(Yes, Betty, you may steal this one for your own blog, and thank you to Robomarkov for making me aware of it.)

Captain Chlorophyll's Dewey Decimal Section:

121 Epistemology

Captain Chlorophyll = 316019438258568522 = 316+019+438+258+568+522 = 2121

100 Philosophy & Psychology

Books on metaphysics, logic, ethics and philosophy.

What it says about you:
You're a careful thinker, but your life can be complicated and hard for others to understand at times. You try to explain things and strive to express yourself.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

This second one doesn't suit me as well, I think.

Captain Chlorophyll's Dewey Decimal Section:

039 Encyclopedias in other languages

Captain Chlorophyll's birthday: 6/8/1971 = 68+1971 = 2039

000 Computer Science, Information & General Works

Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.

What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You're working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

The third one was based off my favorite one to three digit number. Since I don't have a favorite number, I left it blank.

If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium.

I should have posted this yesterday morning, when it happened, but I was busy working. (Go figure.)

At 6:58 a.m. every Wednesday morning, Sub's cell phone alarm rings. He immediately reaches for the office phone, dials an on-campus number, hangs up, and redials. This goes on until someone answers the phone (at least two minutes, until the office officially opens, often longer). This frequently delays his 7:00 a.m. briefing with the crew, so we're all standing/sitting around waiting for him.

What does he do when someone answers the phone? What is so important that he sets an alarm to remind himself and then dials until someone answers? What takes precedence over 40 people's productive work?

He makes a tee time for Saturday morning. That's right, he puts aside all other things to reserve a time to golf. My gripe, though, is about something else Sub did yesterday.

I think I've mentioned before (but not made a big deal out of it) that Worker Bee resigned and took another job. Since then, Thing One has taken on much of his responsibility, and I have covered the rest. Naturally, this leaves less time for us to do our primary jobs. To add insult to injury, Thing Two pulled an end run which resulted in her taking this entire week off -- which Boss did not approve, and which Thing One and I were completely oblivious to until yesterday morning. (Yes, this puts her on the fast track to being terminated.) So, to sum up the numbers thus far, Thing One and I are doing the jobs of three people.

Enter Sub -- or, more accurately, exit him. Our primary plant nursery phoned yesterday to let us know the driver was on her way with our order (54 flats of pansies). Thing One took the call and informed me, because I placed the order. I phoned Sub and let him know, because he's the one who wanted the plants and arranges for the crew to do the planting. Sub told me (he didn't ask) to phone one of the crew supervisors and have him (the supervisor) bring in people to unload the delivery because (I am not making this up) he (Sub) was off campus getting a haircut.

Yes, gentle reader, "WTF?" is an appropriate response.

There's not a person so busy doing the work of three people that you can't add a fourth person's duties to his/her workload. Is the moral of this story that one can get away with not doing one's job as long as there are responsible, efficient, conscientious coworkers that can pick up the slack?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Will. Eee!

I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday. All this time I've been complaining that my employees are like children, I've been wrong.

They don't push in their chairs, even after I point out that it's a safety hazard to leave them in the aisle, and even after I inform them that it's not pleasant being the first one in the shop in the morning and tripping over a chair on the way to the light switch.

They don't shut off the lights when they leave the bathroom. Even with all this "green" talk going on nowadays, they don't pay the utility bills, so why should they care?

On (fortunately) rare occasions, they don't flush. Many of them don't wash their hands after leaving the restroom.

The latest thing (as described in "Baby, it's cold outside." on 11/9/08) is that they leave the door wide open, to let the cold air in.

All along, as I push in their chairs and switch off the lights and shut the door, I grumble, "I'm not their father." This is true; a father can make his child do something.

Children do what they're told. If they don't, they are punished. My employees are adults; they are allowed to make their own decisions. I can't discipline them, either.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Booze News

Here are a couple more tidbits I've gleaned from Waste News. For brevity, I have included only the interesting parts.

Bacardi Corp. to pay fine for Clean Water Act violations
Nov. 4 -- One of the world´s largest rum producers has agreed to pay a $550,000 penalty to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to resolve allegations the company violated the Clean Water Act at its manufacturing facility in Cataño, Puerto Rico.

The agency claimed that from March 2002 to July 2008, Bacardi failed to comply with certain pollutant limits in its permit and, in some instances, failed to report monitoring results for discharges into the Atlantic Ocean. The EPA cited Bacardi for failure to meet pollutant limits for cadmium, lead, copper, oil and grease, selenium, zinc and two types of organic compounds.

Do you mean to tell me all these substances were filtered out during the rum-making process?

ReCORK America launches used wine corks program
Nov. 4 -- ReCORK America, a cork recycling program, is launching a trial program to capture used wine corks in Northern California.

The effort, involving 25 Whole Foods Markets, will feature a collection box in wine departments that will encourage customers to return their used corks. The program will include the Whole Foods Market in Reno, Nev.

Recycled corker can be turned into floor tile, building insulation, shoe soles, fishing rod handles and bulletin boards, according to ReCORK America. The material also can be used as a soil conditioner.

Yeah, let's collect all our wine corks but keep shipping toxic e-waste to unregulated "recycling" centers in China.

How Green Was my Volvo

After nearly a month, I'm finally remembering to post this for you. It came to me from the daily Waste News e-mail.

EPA, Energy Department release ´09 Fuel Economy Guide
Oct. 15 -- The U.S. EPA and the Energy Department have unveiled the 2009 Fuel Economy Guide and are making it available online.

Consumers can save thousands of dollars over a vehicle´s lifetime without sacrificing performance, according to the EPA. Included in the 2009 fuel economy leaders are diesel vehicles certified to the EPA´s tightest emissions standards, according to the agency.

The online guide includes an interactive feature that allows consumers to insert their local gasoline prices and typical driving habits to receive a personalized fuel cost estimate. Fuel economy estimates now include the revised test methods implemented in model year 2008. These revised tests better reflect "real world" driving conditions and habits, including higher highway speed limits and use of accessories such as air conditioning, according to the EPA.

The guide and additional information is available online at and

To test the accuracy of the new fuel efficiency ratings, I looked up my current car (now ten years old). The miles-per-gallon results the web page showed are exactly the same as my own calculations (based on the number of miles driven between refuelings). I don't know about your car, but it seems accurate to me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Time to make the donuts.

I peruse the ads of my local stores online because I'm too cheap to buy a newspaper. I see that one store has Dunkin' Donuts coffee on sale this week. I don't drink coffee, but if I wanted this brand, why wouldn't I just go to one of their establishments and buy some? Oh, wait. That's right. There isn't a Dunkin' Donuts store in Las Cruces. Isn't it ironic that I can buy a donut store's coffee but I can't buy the actual donuts?

Darn it. Now I want donuts.

Baby, it's cold outside.

The nighttime temperatures in Las Cruces are dropping below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. (For my far northern or far southern readers, that's cold to us.) Daytime temperatures are barely making it to 70 degrees any more. This weekend was the first time my furnace turned on.

At work, I have the thermostat in the bay (our building is a former small airplane hanger, so the main room is a cavernous space) set at 68 degrees. I figure it's enough to let the crew members feel warmer than outside when they come in for lunch, yet cool enough to save energy. For some reason, though, when I enter that room after our daily-start-of-the-morning meeting, to refill my mug at the water fountain, my teeth chatter. I check the thermostat and invariably discover that someone has turned it all the way down to 40 degrees. Worse yet, someone leaves the outside door wide open. WTF?

This is one of those times it would be nice to be a psychologist, so I could explain how my crew members think.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Time in a Bottle

Studs Terkel died a week ago. I haven't read any of his books, but I do recall him as a guest on A Prairie Home Companion a couple of times. Garrison Keillor, host of that program, memorialized him on last weekend's program. Keillor told a story of how Terkel was on the show for his 86th birthday, so the cast and crew wheeled out a large cake with a girl in it.

That sounds like something my friends and I could do, if we should survive that long. (It would be roughly 50 years from now.) I started pondering how that would work. Let's say, for legality and ease of math, the young woman inside the cake would be 20 years old. Hmm, now 20 from 50 is...

Egad, the girl won't even be born for another 30 years!

Yipes, Stripes!

The other day, I saw Thing Two running different colors of highlighters over a spreadsheet printout I had given to Boss. The next thing I know, it's pinned to the wall of my office (well, my office, Sub's office, impromptu meeting room, fax room, copier room, and printer room). This thing now is yellow, orange, green, pink, and blue -- on top of the grayscale stripes that already were on there. It looks like someone hung a piece of Fruit Stripe chewing gum on the wall.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Going once... Going twice...


The university property office held a sealed-bid auction to dispose of surplus equipment. This happens periodically, but it caught my interest this time because there were seven bicycles available (no longer needed by the campus police).

I bid $123.56 for the one I really wanted and also entered bids for the six others: two on behalf of Thing One, one as a second choice, and lowball bids for the other three, just in case. If I won any more than the one I needed, I would have them tuned up at a bike shop and then donate them to charity. I was worried that I'd end up with all seven. I didn't get any.

The lowest of any bikes went for $104, significantly over my back-up bid and Thing One's bids, and nearly ten times my lowball bids. The bike I really wanted ended up being everyone's favorite, and it sold for $170.00. Wowzers!

Only 1,460 Campaigning...

Just kidding!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Only 1,461 Campaigning Days until the Next Election

Just thought you'd like to know.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Gas Station as Cultural Icon

Long gone are the days when you could drive into a "service station" and have the attendant wash your windshield and check your oil while refueling your car. In many states, there aren't even attendants any more; New Mexico and other states require you to pump your own gas. I grew up in New Jersey, and when your car entered the gas pump area, the tires would roll over a rubber-coated wire, which would ring a bell inside the gas station, and the attendant (usually a high school boy) would come out to pump your gas. Heck, in NM, the gas stations don't even include garages any more, so you have to go someplace else to get your car serviced.

Nowadays, nearly all gas stations have convenience stores attached. (I wonder if stand-alone convenience stores still exist.) Yesterday, I went to one and saw two women (customers, not staff) standing outside the store, smoking cigarettes and drinking Red Bull energy drinks. Is the gas station now a good place to hang out? I know it's certainly not a good place to smoke.

The kicker is that I had gone to one of the Pic Quik chain of gas stations to pick up a couple of breakfast burritos. They are very tasty and a good value for their price. When's the last time you heard anyone say that gas station food is good?