Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Stupidity of Plant People

I might not speak for all horticulturists, gardeners, or landscapers, but I think many of them will agree with my thoughts.

I started tidying up the apartments' back yard yesterday, removing scrub (mostly a species of Euonymus, a species of privet (Ligustrum), and some Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera)) from beneath the trees and clearing off the chain link fence between the yard and a concrete drainage channel that I charitably call a creek. These shrubs and vines are messy, they make it difficult to tend to the property, and they contribute to the degradation of the fence.

Then, with the thought process typical to many plant people, I had a thought. "You know what would look good on this fence? A Lady Banks rose." Yes, why not grow a plant that will do the same to the fence as the weeds you are removing? Well, because it's not a weed, is it? And because it's pretty.

Friday, February 26, 2010

When is a door not a door?

If I'm doing something that I'm fairly confident about, that's probably the easiest time to confuse me. As part of my fantasizing about interior decorating phase, I measured my bedroom (including door, closet, and windows) and drew a scale diagram. Then I checked it, discovered that the door was not 36" wide but only 30" wide (apparently, 36" is the standard width of only outside doors, and 30" is the standard width for interior doors). So, then, why was the wall with the door the same length as the opposite wall? It should've been 6" longer.

I drew my living room diagram, and everything there seemed okay. I remeasured everything in my bedroom and living room again. The living room checked out, so I don't need to redraw it, and I discovered the error in the bedroom. Yay!

It turns out I had a built in fudge factor. My assumption that the door was flush with the side wall was incorrect. It turns out that it is 6" away from the wall. This, surprisingly and almost miraculously, is exactly the difference in assumed door width and actual door width. I could just erase that corner of the drawing and draw the correct dimensions -- if I hadn't already inked the drawing. (It figures, since I hadn't inked the living room drawing, which was correct.)

Lesson learned: double check your sketch before you finalize it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Balls or Stones?

Almost everyone had a terrible night bowling last night. I blame the fact that the TV's above the lanes had college basketball on instead of Olympic curling, like they did last week, when we all bowled very well. Then again, I bowled well last autumn, when the Phillies were in the World Series. Maybe it depends on the size of the balls or who's handling them. Overall, I think I prefer stones, though.

One thing struck me as odd about the basketball game last night. It gets filed in the "Yet Another Reason Why I'll Never Understand Sports" category. A player was sidelined due to injury (he had a cast, so I'm guessing broken wrist or arm). Even though he couldn't play, he was on the sidelines. He wore a suit and tie. Meanwhile, his teammates, the ones actually being watched by thousands of people, were in the equivalent of an undershirt and boxer shorts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Bear in His Natural Habitat

Although I am not a bear (I strive to keep my weight down, and I'm not hairy -- I guess you might call me Fuzzy Wuzzy), my thoughts lately have turned to improving my "den".

I entered the $500 gift card contest from Big Lots, figuring I could use it to buy one of their sofas. Then my brain kicked in and reminded me that I could use a new, better bed a lot more than a sofa. This twin bed with an old mattress (borrowed from one of the dorms) is pretty confining for a guy my size, even if it is a "long" twin.

I'd like a king size bed, so I really can stretch out, and after measuring the bedroom, it appears that one would fit. I don't want to spend too much money, since I'm not trying to kit out my condo again, and since this apartment is kind of on the cheap side. This bed doesn't look too bad, has drawers so I don't need to spend money on other pieces for clothing storage, and also has an available headboard, so I could conceivably put it against the outside wall and not freeze my brain. (Plus, then I wouldn't need any nightstands, which would have to be shifted every time I wanted to open the drawers at the head of the bed.)

For the living room, I'm leaning toward this sofa from K-Mart. Target has a similar one, but for just six inches longer (probably in the arms, not the seat), it sure isn't worth $350 more.

Actually, I would prefer a black leather or faux leather sofa, but considering the higher price of that material, I don't think it would be worth it. (And, after all, I'm not trying to create another stylish abode.) From browsing furniture choices online, it appears that "chocolate", "mocha", and "espresso" (all dark browns) are fashionable color choices right now. I'm not sure if that would complement the dark wood floors (which I'll call "walnut" until anyone with knowledge of stain tones contradicts me), but I'll go with it.

I need to ponder my paint choices, too, of course. (Here's the palette choices.) Froggy said that the school would buy the paint for me but that I'd have to do the painting. I thought of a dark, royal blue (maybe 6811 Honorable Blue) for the bedroom, but the school won't allow dark colors because they're too hard to paint over when someone moves out. I kind of pictured a sage green (like 6444 Lounge Green) for the bathroom, but my dark green towels are starting to fade and unravel, so I don't necessarily need to keep with that color scheme, but it has to go well with the "sand" vinyl floor. The kitchen has a pale, bluish-greenish laminate countertop and a "1970's Harvest Gold" electric stove (which, if ever replaced, would be white, like the refrigerator and washer/dryer). Maybe I'll just paint the whole place 6086 Sand Dune, which is the color of my condo living room back in Las Cruces. Then what about the closets... and the trim... and the closet shelves (for which I thought of a dark brown, rather than the sad white they are now)... and the inside of the front door... and...

I pondered if I feel lacking in some aspect of my life and I'm compensating for it with fantasizing about furniture and paint. (Other men fantasize about models or actresses; I fantasize about interior decorating.) Maybe I want to feel more comfortable in The Noog so I'm trying to adapt my space. Maybe (and this could even be a shocking truth) I'm already comfortable here and I'm thinking about settling in for the long haul.

Along those lines, I've had this song stuck in my head since waking up this morning. Not only does it have one of my favorite bears, it got me going and kept up through my workout and actually got me kind of jazzed to face the day (in which yet more rain is expected). Maybe it'll do the same for you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The verdict is in.

I know I've been kind of boring the past few months, but that's the sort of life I lead. I'm content to stay at home and read, rather than experience the wider world. It doesn't make for great blog content, but I got off my duff on Saturday and did something you'll (hopefully) enjoy reading about.

Actually, I started Saturday by not going out. While I was walking my early morning laps, I was planning my day. As the sky lightened, I realized that it would be a waste of time and gasoline (not to mention my state of mind) to drive all the way to Hixson and discover that the three thrift stores didn't have microwaves. Instead, I would just phone them and ask! (You could call that my "dawning" realization.) It was a good thing I did, too, because none of them had a microwave.

I heated the steak and mushroom pie (see the previous post) for lunch. It turned out not to be like the pot pie I had imagined it to be. There was no gravy nor any vegetables, and the beef was sliced, not cubed. The crust was very flaky and made a mess all over the plate. The flavor was okay. It was nothing special, though, so I don't think I'll bother purchasing one again, unless the steak and banger one (maybe this coming weekend) is better.

On Sunday, I had kielbasa and some of the farmer's cheese, Russian style pierogies. The kielbasa had too much black pepper and wasn't smoky enough for my taste, but the texture was good, and the casing was firm but easy to chew. (The ingredients list didn't say, but I'm assuming it was "natural" casing, and the less said about that, the better.) The pierogies had good initial flavor but a sour finish. I don't think I'll buy them again. I still have to try the sauerkraut (Russian style) and potato cheese (Polish style) ones.

Saturday afternoon, I joined a few of my Wednesday night league members for "nine-pin no-tap" bowling with some of their friends and some students from UTC. (For readers who don't know, if you knock down nine pins with your first ball, it's counted as a strike.) I was teamed with Keeli and Brandi (and, let me tell you, when I was in college, none of the girls was that skinny, and, even though I've had a decade to get used to the idea, I still find facial piercings unattractive), so the rest of us, by extension, became Captaini (Captain), Carli (Carl), and Jimmi (Jimmy). My scores were better than average (202 and 222), and I had my first "perfect" game. (In my book, that means all spares or strikes, not a 300 game.) It figures it would happen outside of league play.

It took nigh on forever, what with five people on each team, so several of us had to skip the third game so we could get to the restaurant on time. We ate at Hampton's Vaudeville Cafe, one of those dinner theaters where you try to figure out who the murderer was. Our performance was "Mystery at the Nightmare High School Reunion" (kind of fitting, since I didn't attend my own 20-year reunion this past autumn).

Our group was so large (over 20 people), they sat us on the floor tables, right in front of the stage. If you're family sized, don't worry about getting stuck in one of the booths in the back and missing anything important, because the actors roam around the whole audience, interacting and (supposedly) dropping clues. However, those of us in the front could interact more with the performers (we got them off script twice -- once which an actor admitted out loud -- but they were excellent at ad-libbing), and we often roared with laughter at comments which the microphones didn't pick up. Also, the bubble machine was right above my seat.

The stereotypical cast included the overbearing football coach, the nerd (who looked remarkably like Johnny Galecki's character in The Big Bang Theory and was dressed as a Redshirt from Star Trek), the class clown (who resembled Larry, the Cable Guy), the artist (dressed and made up more like a metal or punk rocker than an artist), the class president (doubling as the class brain and who remarkably resembled Velma from Scooby-Doo), the uptight teacher, and the dumb blonde/prom queen.

After the murder, there also was a stock Southerner with about eight names (Billy Jim Bo Bob...), bad teeth (oh, did we pick on him when the wife in the anniversary couple announce that she works at a dentist's office!), and a mullet (the hairstyle, not the fish), who got his first laugh by turning around and letting us see "Soddy Daisy CSI" embroidered on the back of his jacket. (Definitely an inside joke you get only if you're a Nougat or live near The Noog.) His job was more of a stand-up comic, and -- Beware! -- if you go to this place for your birthday or wedding anniversary, he will call you up on stage.

The food was buffet style Italian, which you served yourself before the show started (though you could return for refills): an iceberg lettuce salad with grated parmesan cheese, ziti with cheese in tomato sauce, meatballs in tomato sauce, some sort of rice, and chicken breast with red and green pepper slices. The ziti and the meatballs were pretty tasty, but the rice and the chicken were blah. (I did note that the various dishes were in separate trays, so diners could keep kosher.) Dessert was a slice of ordinary chocolate cake which was brought to the table later on, during the performance. A server brought refills of water, iced tea, or sodas, but you're safer to stick with tea or water. The Dr. Pepper I ordered was constantly replaced with Coke; sure, the servers had to refresh a lot of beverages, but they'd be a lot safer not assuming.

No, I didn't guess the murderer correctly. Nor did I figure out the motive. I didn't even guess who the victim was going to be -- although I came close to guessing the method before it happened. The character who also was the murderer didn't say much at our table, and another one skipped us entirely, so, obviously, I couldn't solve the mystery because they withheld clues from us. Oh yeah, they also sang a few times.

Friday, February 19, 2010

But I did get what I went there for.

After my cheesesteak tonight, I ventured over to Idiotville, Froggy's nickname for the part of The Noog which encompasses The Maul and Big Box Boulevard. (And I've had "Last Train to Clarksville" stuck in my head since this afternoon.)

Naturally, Target was out of stock of the sale item I wanted, but the woman at the service counter was very friendly as she prepared my raincheck. Then I got into trouble. "Oh, there's the European Market I've driven by so many times. I'll stop in tonight and see if they have pierogies and kielbasi," I thought. Famous last words.

That tiny store was jam-packed with cookies, candies, pastas, meats, crackers, fish, tea bags, cheeses, soups (canned and dry), various jarred things, and beverages -- and jam -- from all over Europe. I couldn't read many of the labels (although the Cyrillic word for "monastery" is very similar). They even had Vegemite, even though it's from Australia. Here's what I bought.

Red currant jelly - It's what my mom always used to make our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but it's uncommon in grocery stores (at least in NM and TN; she always managed to find it in NJ), so I got a jar.

Two beef pasties - Where else can I find English food in The Noog? (No, I'm not referring to "something to cover small parts of a woman's anatomy", as my mother discreetly tried to explain to me when I mispronounced the word -- once -- when I was young.)

Two different English meat pies - They did not have Sweeney Todd's name on the label. I checked. I bought one steak and banger and one steak and mushroom. (I don't like mushrooms, but I'd rather not try the steak and kidney variant.)

Frozen pretsels (sic) - They don't come packaged with chunky salt, like the ones in many grocery store freezer sections, and they're not Philly-area pretzels, but why not try them once? (I only hope I like them because there are ten in that bag.)

Mr. Kipling apple and black currant pies - Yes, currants again. I wouldn't go so far as to say they're "exceedingly good", like the label claims, but they're decent. (I couldn't not try one as soon as I got them home, as they are not individually wrapped in hermetically sealed pouches, and I could fit only five of them in that resealable, plastic bag to toss in the freezer.) Note that they actually are miniature pies, not like empanadas or Hostess fruit pies.

A package of smoked kielbasi - Again, I hope I like them, because there are a lot to eat, even if I don't.

Three types of pierogies: two Russian and one Polish (the Russian ones are smaller) - The choice of pierogies in The Noog grocery freezer sections is limited to two kinds: take it or leave it (and the "leave it" flavor is much better). There were about a dozen different flavors here. Wahoo!

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a food slut. I can't help myself. I spent over $80 (before tax) in that store, and I didn't even buy any of the cookies, candies, or soda. Worse yet, now I don't have room in my freezer for all those Girl Scout cookies I ordered.

So, when are you able to come visit and translate all of those yummy looking packages for me?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seeing that the fourteenth is already taken.

Thanks (again) to Occasional Fish (I gotta read this guy more often, if he keeps pointing out bits I can steal), I regret to inform you that we missed International Grover Appreciation Day. Now that's a holiday we all can celebrate. No more staying at home alone, wearing black, and waiting to walk into an all-night grocery or drugstore at 12:01 a.m. on the fifteenth and bitch out the sales staff for not having marked down the Valentine's candy by 50% yet. No. Instead, we can put on something blue and furry, flap our arms about, and torment bald, mustached men at restaurants. (The comments in the link above are worth reading, too.)

Oh, and if you were eagerly anticipating it, here is the monster at the end of this post.

I don't want to cook yogurt.

Or brew yogurt. Or distill yogurt. Or ferment yogurt. Or whatever is done to make yogurt. I don't want recipes to create yogurt. I just want to mix yogurt.

I figure, in my cost-cutting mode, that I should be able to make my own yogurt cheaper (not to mention better tasting) if I just take a large tub of plain yogurt and mix in some frozen raspberries. (Plus, I'll create less waste by not having dozens of little plastic cups hanging around my kitchen.)

However, I can't find how much fruit I need to mix with how much yogurt. A blog search gave me numerous sites to ferment my own yogurt. The National Yogurt Association (I should've known there's an association for everything) has recipes for waffle topping, smoothies, slurps, snacks, dips, parfaits, salads, rafts, and even curried turkey, but no mention of how to eat yogurt as, well, just yogurt.

And did you notice that, the more often you see the word yogurt, the stranger the word yogurt looks?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dewey or don't we?

I took some of my mom's books as a donation to the school library today. I also looked at two listings on their shelves, to see if they were in good shape or if I could bring two more copies.

The fiction books are shelved alphabetically by author's last name -- this is standard -- for most authors. However, if you want to read a novel by John LeCarre, you have to look under David Cornwell, the author's real name. "Wait a minute," I wondered as I wandered the shelves. "Then how come I find books by Ed McBain not shelved under Evan Hunter (especially since there's an Evan Hunter book right there)? The librarian explained that she follows the Library of Congress standard.

One of the titles I sought today is a non-fiction book. When I looked it up in the (computerized) card catalog (available through the link above, if you're curious), it told me the book could be found at "500 Bryson". I stared at the screen, wondering what that meant. Yes, I has been that long since I'd seen the Dewey Decimal System. (NMSU uses the Library of Congress system.) Once I got my brain back on track, I found the book right away.

Now I guess I need to ask the librarian why she uses the Library of Congress system for fiction but the Dewey Decimal System for non-fiction.

Ponch and Jon never would've let this happen.

Being dumbfounded by this guy's stupidity was quickly replaced by concern. Then I was dumbfounded again because the woman recording this found it amusing. One can hope she then phoned the highway patrol -- and that the driver saw their flashing lights and heard their sirens and pulled off the road safely and fined substantially for DWD (driving while dumb).

(Thanks to Occasional Fish for pointing this out.)

In case you didn't notice, it's Tuesday.

This is not another of those days where I woke up an hour late, thinking I was on time. No, I know I have it right today, but I don't know what everyone else's problem is. Maybe they forgot yesterday was a holiday (Presidents' Day, for many people) and that today isn't Monday.

I'm accustomed to seeing the muscular blonde with the Martina Navratilova haircut at the indoor track (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays), but I'd never seen the heavyset black man nor the grizzled white guy there before.

On my way out of the building, I passed a student stretching. Students don't get up that early (especially high school students). When I was his age, I didn't get up that early, and I'm a morning person. On my walk back to my apartment, I heard a noise, looked over, and saw two more students on their way to the rec. center, with a basketball. Seriously, what's going on?

After showering and eating breakfast, I headed back onto campus. One of my employees drove by. Gee, he's earlier than usual. Then I saw two members of Froggy's crew getting out of their cars. Their shift doesn't start until half an hour after my crew's, so what are they doing here so early?

Is there something special about today that I don't know about?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

This is nuts.

The school is closed for "winterim", so we employees have to find other venues for lunch. Yesterday, the managers decided to eat out. (So much for me not spending money superfluously.)

The restaurant where we ate had peanuts available to munch while waiting for our entrees. The peanut box was labeled like this. "Due to possible allergic reactions, please do not remove peanuts from store."

Why not? Do the peanuts suddenly become allergenic once they cross the threshhold? Shouldn't there be a sign on the door, warning incoming patrons who might be allergic that peanuts are inside the restaurant? Maybe its the peanuts themselves that are allergic; they'll start sneezing and sniffling in your hands if you carry them outside.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Disturbing Pattern

Four weeks ago, the day after I left The Noog for my vacation, it snowed. Two weeks ago, the day after I returned from my vacation, it snowed. Today, it has started snowing. I don't like this pattern, but at least it's predictable.

Worse yet, I missed my weekly cheesesteak the last time it snowed...

Can you guess which of these guys I am more like? (Let's see if I can get this to show up. Cross fingers!)

I'm getting ready for Judge Lynn Toler's sh*t list.

I was "a little bit of a jerk" yesterday. I had the nerve to wake up one of my employees when he fell asleep during our chainsaw safety training in the morning. In the afternoon, before the monthly safety meeting for all facilities employees (driver and vehicle safety was that topic), I prevented the workers from grabbing more chairs rather than using the seats that were set up already (the more chairs you drag out, the more you have to put back), I told the "gentlemen" to remove their hats (school policy, not to mention good deportment), and I made three of my own employees remove their sunglasses (even though we were in a black room with poor lighting, so I know it just had to have been too bright in there for them to go without).

I ended the day feeling tired. I'm not used to being a jerk, even for such a short time, so I must have worn myself out. Froggy's a jerk all day every day; I don't see how he can stand it. Maybe he built up a tolerance first.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cast of Thousandths

I went to the school's winter play this past weekend: Twelve Angry Men. I can tell you with certainty that none of the boys will become a famous actor.

The first thing I noticed (well, after the simplicity of the set) was that the bailiff wasn't wearing the right shoes. Then the rest of the cast filed in, and it was obvious they were wearing their own clothes -- except for the kid playing Henry Fonda's character, because he was in a light gray suit, and the other boys were in dark gray or blue sportcoats with mismatching trousers. (One boy even wore white ankle socks.) Obviously, the director was going for cost savings over period costumes or method acting. And, of course, none of the boys got a haircut (I could barely see the eyes of one of them), even though that would make them look a little more appropriate to the period, not to mention adhere to the school's dress code.

As far as the acting itself, some of it was as wooden as the table in the set. When the boys wanted to portray anger, they yelled and hit the table, which then resounded loudly enough to drown out their next few words. In the meantime, I was wondering, "I wonder who played that role and what a real actor could make of it?"

Now to move on to my own supporting cast. I have worked here seven months now, and you might have noticed that I've referred to my coworkers far less often than my previous ones. (Having a positive work environment accounts for most of that.) I've come up with nicknames for most of the primary suspects, so I can list them all now.

Skippy - My new boss, the overall manager of facilities. So named, not because he looks like the cartoon squirrel (although his hair and vandyke are auburn), but because that's what his e-mail program calls him. "Congratulations, Skippy, you've got mail!" (At first, I thought it said "Skinny", kind of as a motivator for him to lose weight, but as time went on, I heard more clearly and noticed absolutely no motivation to slim down.)

Froggy - The maintenance manager (over plumbing, electrical, carpentry, painting, etc.). I named him after the character from The Little Rascals/Our Gang shorts because he looks like a little kid (especially with his cap turned backwards), he's short, and his eyes kind of bug out. (His brother Piggy, for the way his nose looks, also works here, but I probably won't ever mention him.) Froggy has diabetes but continues his unhealthy eating habits in the cafeteria, driving himself toward blindness and amputations -- unless he gets an ulcer or has a heart attack first, since he doesn't handle work stress very well (or at all).

Miss Kitty - Not the character from Gunsmoke, the housekeeping manager (or manageress, if you're so inclined) reminds me of a cat, sitting all prim and proper and "Aren't I a good girl?" one moment and hissing and spitting and baring her fangs and clawing at you the next. Incidentally, she is comparatively as large as the cat in the first photo.

Officer Krupke - The head of (in)security for the campus. He is old and heavy and slow, like most of his employees, although he has lost a lot of weight due to some miraculous diet that he will talk at you interminably about, if you give him the slightest opportunity. He also insists on giving me the weather forecast each day, detailed down to the hour, and he is always wrong. It's a toss-up for his most annoying habit: either how he whines about parking visitors to whatever game or event is on campus that day and indirectly asks Skippy to figure it out for him, even though he has been in his position for 20 years; or how he guffaws loudly at every little thing he says, even if it's not funny (which it rarely is). Froggy, Miss Kitty, and I rarely make eye contact with him because it would only encourage him.

Cold Miser - An employee who retired but never left (even though everyone would like him to). Resembles the character from The Year without a Santa Claus, but with less hair. (The nose is the same, though.) He is a very devout person, but he finally has stopped saying, "I'll be praying for you," every time he ends a conversation with me. He drives me bonkers in two ways. First, he can't finish a sentence, or even a thought, so I'm never certain what he's trying to say, but he uses a ton of words not to say it. Second, he whistles "the hymn of the day" every day. It's bad enough to have a song stuck in my head, but hearing someone else's is excessive. Plus, whistling makes my brain vibrate, which is uncomfortable, to say the least. (This morning, I note that today's hymn is the same as yesterday's. Argh!) Gossip has it that he was supposed to go on some sort of mission to Eastern Europe when he retired, but he couldn't find a church willing to sponsor him because he alienated every church he ever joined. (I suspect that enough of us would contribute toward buying him a one-way plane ticket to Bosnia or Kosovo, as long as we were certain he wouldn't come back.) Speaking of holier-than-thou types...

His Holiness - The part-time, assistant mechanic. If you say "weedwhacker" or "weedeater" within his earshot, he will dodder over (you know, as in "doddering") and sanctimoniously preach at you that the correct term is "string trimmer", as if you had committed a mortal sin. (That's a mistake you make only once!) We only keep him around because he's the father of...

The Client - See this post for a bit more about him. This guy holds the strings to our contract; if he doesn't like us, out we go. Fortunately (I think), he used to work for our company, and he's good buddies with Skippy, so I see us here for a while -- as long as he works for the school, anyway.

George Jefferson - The guy looks like death (see my 10/1/09 post "Death drives a Gator."), not the title character from The Jeffersons, but walks like this, which is enough resemblance for me.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum - Two brothers work for me. They work on two different crews, but during breaks and if they ever work together, they snipe and insult each other constantly. However, they still love each other enough to eat lunch together in the dining hall. (They're also quite heavy, so they physically resemble the characters.)

I have two Roberts. I have two Dons. I even have a, "This is Larry; this is my employee Darryl..." but I don't have a second employee named Darryl.

Hmm, do I have a cast of characters, or a rogues' gallery?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

To Coin a Phrase

I minted a new one this morning, so copyright Captain Chlorophyll (or however that works). You’re hearing it here second. Because I used it in our managers’ meeting this morning, that’s why.

I was explaining that the employee I counseled for a safety violation walked out of the room with a completely different understanding of the problem, no matter how many times or ways I phrased it. I was giving him a verbal warning for using a vehicle without working headlights -- a problem which he himself reported to me not two minutes before -- and after I had instructed him to use my vehicle instead. “So if I didn’t come to you, I wouldn’t have been caught, right?” was his take on the situation.

He used a different vehicle this morning. No problem, right? Uh-uh. My crew can’t leave things alone. A different employee, seeing the truck not in use, thought he could use it, jumped in, and took off onto campus. I made the mistake of assuming that employees won’t use vehicles that they weren’t granted leave to use.

As I was explaining this to Skippy this morning, I apologized for not being able to figure out my employees. “I know I’m not the fastest guy,” I explained, “but there’s no way I can be faster than the speed of stupid.”

Monday, February 08, 2010

A Waste of Time

I have barred myself from eating out for the time being (except my weekly cheesesteak). My checking account took a serious hit, what with the gift cards for my employees and my airplane ticket to NM coming at the same time, so I'm going to stop all frivolous expenditures until it recovers.

It would be easier, though, if I had a microwave. I mean, that way, I could actually fix myself something more than a sandwich because I'd have a way to reheat the leftovers. I have myself a quest!

What is your name?
Captain Chlorophyll.

What is your quest?
To find an inexpensive microwave... and a rubbery, yellow raincoat.

What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
I don't know, but the formula is here.

I wasted a good amount of time on Saturday driving from thrift shop to thrift shop. (I didn't waste all my time, though, as I got a cheap pair of sneakers from K-Mart and the Dr. Pepper that was on sale at Dollar General, which were errands I was able to do while on my quest.)

I visited five thrift stores (would've been more, but two appeared to have closed down since the phone book was printed) in the greater Noog area (to include Fort O.), and none of them had a microwave. Does no one give away useful stuff any more? I suppose most people nowadays would just throw out a broken microwave and buy a new one, instead of seeing if it could be fixed. But what about when they feel theirs is "too old" and just want a new one? What about when Grandma or Old Aunt Ethel dies and the heirs have to dispose of her household goods? (However, if you're in the market for an electric bread machine, go for it. There were dozens of them on the shelves.)

One of the stores actually had a raincoat -- and it was yellow! -- and it was rubbery! -- and it even had reflecty bits on it! Alas, it was a size medium, and I require at least a large, or an extra large, to accommodate my gorilla arms. (Um, that means extra long, not extra hairy, in case you were wondering, although... Um, let's not go there right now, okay?)

The good news is that, if you're looking for a men's suit, you can pick one up for only $8. I used to think that $100 was a good deal on a suit, but that was ten years ago, and the last time I wore a suit was when my father died, but eight bucks is a steal!

Okay, so I didn't buy a suit I don't need, and I didn't even buy those three owl figurines, even though they were just a dollar apiece. (If I'm not allowed to eat out, then something to sit on a shelf and collect dust is even more of a superfluous expense.) However, I did weaken and pick up six books (fifty cents each at two stores and a dollar each at another). The guilt there is that it feels just as wrong to pay nothing but fifty cents for a book as it would to pay just eight bucks for a suit.

Oh, and when you die, Betty, will your books to your sister or a library or someone else who would appreciate them. (Maybe the Tech library will name its science fiction wing after you.) Don't let anyone take them to a thrift store, because they seem to be the depositories for some of the most useless books imaginable (although it appears that someone once read them). Your collection is far more worthy than that!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

If I had known, I would've brought a book.

Our client (who eerily resembles a St. Bernard) asked me yesterday to offer my employees some off-the-clock work for him to remove some plywood from his trailer. One employee could do it for $40, or two employees could do it for $20 each.

Naturally, I'm too conscientious to just hand over the money to the employees and go home, so I sat in my office and twiddled my thumbs (my friends weren't online to chat) until they had finished. I approved the work, paid the employees, and reported to Bernard.

It struck me, as I had nothing to do but itch to go home, that I felt like a teacher who had drawn the short straw and was stuck monitoring after-school detention.

National Technophobe Day

I don't know if there is such a thing, but I celebrated it yesterday. (I'm greatly condensing this story because I won't have time to type it all, not because you won't appreciate my wit. Incidentally, one of my coworkers (the housekeeping supervisor, whom I'm thinking of nicknaming Miss Kitty) said yesterday, to the newest employee, that my "sense of humor is very dry". Froggy chimed in, "Dusty.")

The company web page I check daily for my employees timecard swipes from the previous day said that every single one of my employees didn't show up to work on Monday, didn't clock in, didn't go to lunch, and didn't clock out -- but the maintenance and housekeeping crews did. They're in different buildings, so they use different timeclocks.

The company web page I needed to put through the request to get my employee his three-month probationary raise was down.

I brought up my issues at our daily managers meeting, and the best suggestion they (who are even less computer literate than I) could come up with was to wait until today and look again -- oh, and put in a help desk request for computer support to check the phone line, since our leaky building has done this before, so maybe the data transfer didn't happen because the phone line was wet again (thanks both to melting snow from the weekend and rain overnight).

I submitted the help request then went back to the timesheet web page to review past weeks and verify I had logged all my employee's absences properly. At this point, all of Monday's time appeared correct after all, but it was Tuesday's times with the little red stop signs that indicate errors. The computer claimed now that my employees did work on Monday after all but that they had clocked in Tuesday but didn't take lunch nor go home. This is highly unusual because, the way the system is set up, it's not possible to view the current day's timecard swipes. Oh, fugeddaboutit. I'll just wait until (today) to check again. (I'll keep you posted.)

Incidentally, the computer geek checked the phone line and pronounced it problem-free. Beats the heck out of me. I'm a technophobe, remember?

Monday, February 01, 2010

I Shoulda Stood in Bed

That wouldn't have kept Skippy from phoning or texting me, though.

We had a bunch of snow on Friday. I can't tell you how much because it was too dark to see, but it had been snowing for six hours by that point. Overnight, the snow became rain, so the snow on the ground matted down, but I think we got a couple of inches.

Saturday morning, I woke up at my usual time, picked up a shovel from the shop, and made sure that the students had clear (albeit narrow) paths from their dorms to the dining hall, and also around the activity building, since the swimming coach perversely did not cancel or reschedule his weekend swim meet, like every other event coordinator around town had done. (People here appear as ignorant about driving in snow as those of us from the desert, but this guy must be from North Dakota or someplace.) I didn't have to worry about the roads around the activity center, though, because some nice elves had come in overnight and cleared them for me. (Thanks, elves!) After four hours of shoveling, I went home and shoveled the sidewalk and driveway of my apartment -- but did my neighbors thank me? I think you can guess the answer to that. (Maybe they thought elves did it.)

Sunday morning, I sprinkled ice melt on occasional spots on sidewalks and roads which had frozen overnight. It turns out Saturday was warm enough to melt some of the snow, and I was a bit miffed that my shoveling was made redundant that quickly. At least I was done with the ice melt in less time than I had spent shoveling.

You know you wake up early when: You go to work for two hours. You return home and eat breakfast. You read a while. You decide to take a nap. You wake up, refreshed. You look at the clock and realize it's not even noon yet.

What was the worst part of the whole weekend? I didn't even get a cheesesteak in appreciation of my hard work. I drove all the way (over the river and through the woods) to Tubby's on Saturday afternoon and discovered that they were closed. I decided to eat instead at Aretha Frankenstein's, since I was in the area, and since it had been several months since my last visit, and I figured that they would have restocked their T-shirts by then. Not only were they sold out of men's shirts yet again, the ground beef burrito was terrible. (It tasted like a sloppy joe poured into a dry tortilla instead of a bun.)

Did I mention the tree branches that fell on Saturday?