Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hey, he visited my old neck of the woods!

Hot on the heels of his visit to Socorro, NM (if you can call several months "hot on the heels"), online comic artist Jorge Cham has taken PhD to Las Cruces, NM -- specifically, the Chile Pepper Institute.

PHD Tales from the Road - NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

If you can't see the video above, go to the comic link and read the 9/27/10 episode.

The Song of the Day

This morning's dream about being gifted with a baby alligator (I was at Big Lots shopping for a container to carry him in so I could take him to the campus retention pond, which was the best place I could think of to put him) was accompanied by the following song.

Then, during my laps this morning, I thought, "Why not also share with my friends this Muppet bit that tickled me when I was young, even though my mom thought it was horrible?"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If I ever lose my job, I could become a painter's apprentice.

Last night, I started painting my apartment. (Froggy got me the materials just the day after I requested them. Go figure.) I started in the bathroom, since it's the smallest room. It's also the most complicated, as it turns out. I have to work around the medicine cabinet, but I successfully removed the mirror and the covering off the light fixture from the wall. (I borrowed a shop light to illuminate the room while I painted around the fixture.)

Error #1: I forgot to borrow a stepladder. I stood on the edge of the tub and the toilet lid (Do not try this at home!) to get the wall there, but I won't successfully mask and paint the other edges of the room without help.

Error #2: I took the cover off the wall heater and discovered that it's not a cover. It's the entire heater, and it's hard-wired to the wall. Okay, so I'll just temporarily hang it back on with two of the screws and work around it when the time comes. Then (fortunately) I remembered that I won't be painting that low down on the wall. You see, one part of the sink wall has some sort of fake tile that had been painted white long ago, with the rest of the room. I had decided to leave it white and paint just the wall above that point and to extend that line around the rest of the room. (Note to self: bring level home from work today.) I'm hoping for a wainscot effect. Anyway, that's a good error, so I put all the screws in and tightened them down.

Most of the bathroom is done already (I could reach far more than I anticipated), so I'll finish it and start on the hallway (another small area, for practice) on Thursday. (I have bowling tonight.) I should be able to patch small holes and mask the bedroom on Friday and paint it Saturday. Then I need to work up motivation for the kitchen and living room...

This song is stuck in my head this morning. Not only does it maintain the habit of songs appearing in my dreams 2-3 days after hearing them, but it's good enough to share with you without you cursing me for getting it stuck in your heads, too.

But I can't decide whether to close this post about home improvement with the line, "A man's home is his castle," or tag an old pun onto a line from the song. "It's not a model; it's a horrible example."

Thanks, Mystery Inc.!

I figured out why so many students show up to campus early (earlier than a typical day) on Wednesdays, even though classes start an hour later. They are being punished.

It sounds like a meaningless punishment to me, but boys subject to discipline are required to walk around the indoor track. Judging from the slow rate they adopt, I'm guessing it's for a prescribed length of time, rather than distance. If they're being punished, why not have them dig the holes for my irrigation guy? Better yet: the housekeeping staff is short-handed; make the students clean toilets.

I kind of picture myself as Freddy. Sure, I eat a lot, but if Freddy Prinze, Jr. can play a blond, why not me?

Monday, September 27, 2010

How I Spent my Summer Va... my Weekend

For some reason, I was energized on Friday. I cleaned my bathroom between getting off work and getting my cheesesteak.

Saturday morning, I had enough stamina to add three laps to my swim. (Don't applaud; these are the same three laps I had dropped upon my return from vacation.) However (this you may applaud), I was able to swim in a fairly straight line; I didn't run into the wall nor the lane marker once! There are too many variables to test why, though. It could be because I opened my eyes occasionally underwater. It could be because I was wearing a different bathing suit (Was it the different material, the fact that the pocket doesn't repeatedly stick out of this one, or even that the drawstring is inside the waistband instead of outside?). I then ran four laps and walked eight around the track. I went home and cleaned my apartment some more.

I had a craving for pizza, so I tried a place I hadn't gone yet: Crust Pizza. The pizza was okay (I ordered a large, with white sauce, tomatoes, and yellow onions), and the cupcake (which they call a Crust Cake) was passable. However, I do intend to return (and to take you with me) because 1) of the ambience and 2) they have Harp on tap. (Be warned that that part of the menu on the website is outdated, since Harp isn't even listed, and since the location where I ate isn't mentioned, either.)

The place is very open (ample space between tables, but I could still hear the noisy children even though I seated myself at the opposite end of the restaurant), and there are many posters of music groups (some of which, like The Police and the Hoodoo Gurus, I've even heard of) on the walls. The table where I happened to sit was the best part. It had pictures of toys and other products from the 1960's to the 1980's, and I could identify most of them. And here I thought I was the only one who remembered Freakies cereal. (You'll see characters from that same time period on the menu -- with their names altered to protect from copyright infringement, of course.) Anyway, that's why I'm taking you with me: so we can drink good beer and reminisce about when we were very young. (The table next to me had mug shots. I recognized some of the faces, so maybe the others were supposed to be famous as well.)

I lost my momentum after that. I didn't do anything else noteworthy the rest of the weekend. Maybe it was the protein pancakes I stuffed myself with on Sunday morning, or the three hours of the Monty Python documentary I watched.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pear Pimples for Hairy Fishnuts

It struck me this morning that I could convert how many steps in my laps to figure out the circumference of the track. (Yes, sometimes it takes your genius Cap'n a while to think up his brilliant ideas.) Or at least estimate it. At least estimate the outer perimeter of the track, not any of the running lanes.

In one lap, I walked 454 steps. If we assume my stride is approximately one yard (which it is) -- not one meter (which it isn't) -- then I walked 454 yards, or 1,362 feet. If a mile is 5,280 feet long (which it is), then I walked 0.257954545 miles in one lap. Thus, for my seven laps this morning, I walked approximately 1.8 miles. On cardio-only days, I walk twelve laps, which works out to about 3.1 miles.

Hmm, it appears that a "standard" quarter-mile running track measures from the outside. That is, a six-lane running track (which this one is). I presume someone using an eight-lane track would have to walk/run the line between the sixth and seventh lanes to approximate a quarter mile.

Then again, maybe the difference isn't so great if I count my steps along the inside perimeter of the track. Maybe my conversion is just wrong. I'll have to try that after football season, when the benches, tables, and protective mats are taken off the track.

"But, Cap'n," you say, "fish don't have nuts."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This post is rated PG-13.

If I were outgoing and consistently witty enough, I'd use the following in my stand-up act.

Have you ever dialed a phone sex number and gotten a busy signal? Do you really think she's going to want to talk to you after having a phony orgasm with another guy? Maybe you'll get her answering machine.

"I'm sorry, but I can't come on the phone right now. Please leave a boxers-or-brief message with your name and (credit card) number, and I'll call you back."

And that was before I opened the beer!

Some days move more slowly than others.

In our daily meeting yesterday, Froggy looked at his school calendar and asked, "When does Daylight Savings Time end? This says on November 7th." Miss Kitty and Officer Krupke promptly pulled out their identical calendars and confirmed the date.

None of them realized how ludicrous it was that they "confirmed" the date with the same calendar - or even that Froggy had answered his own question.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Feel-Good Hit of the Season

A friend called on Friday, said he had won two tickets to a musical (for Saturday night), and asked if I wanted to go with him. Well, I'm no stranger to musicals, so I said okay, although I thought he said the title was "legally blind", and I wondered how someone could possibly make a musical about Daredevil. (Stranger things have happened.)

It turns out that it was called Legally Blonde, a pun which you won't understand unless you've seen the musical -- or the movie which my friend says was made, but as I go to movies even less than I watch TV, and as I am almost completely illiterate about pop culture, you'll forgive me for not recognizing the reference.

Scratch that. Don't waste forgiveness on me not having heard of the thing. (Can we call it a franchise now, since there was a movie and a musical and now a touring company of the musical? Interesting side note: this article mentions that Chattanooga tends to be the first stop for Broadway shows turned into touring companies.) Forgive me for agreeing to go to this franchise about a Valley Girl inveigling her way into Harvard law school to follow the man she wants to marry but then ends up learning about morals and coming to love her mentor -- with singing and dancing.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. Once you get over the shrill, peppy sorority voices, it's watchable. The songs are upbeat and contribute to the story line. I'm not going to remember them like songs from The Music Man or West Side Story, although the main number, reprised at the end, did stick in my brain until I fell asleep. (Um, if you clicked to hear any of the songs in the link above, I'm sorry. I should've warned you ahead of time.) There's also the requisite (to musicals) second storyline about finding your true love under less than ideal circumstances. There aren't any deaths or other downers (such as in Les Miserables or Oklahoma!), but it stays pretty true to formula nonetheless.

There's a line by Pinky in the "Brain's Song" episode of Pinky and the Brain about no one being able to resist musical swellings combined with words. (I can't find it without spending time on more than a cursory web search for P&TB quotes, and I don't think Skippy will give me an hour off to go home and watch the episode to write it down.) I thought of that when I realized that this was supposed to be one of those "feel good" musicals.

I enjoyed the show, but if you want me to feel good, send one of the cast members home with me. There was eye candy for whichever gender you prefer (or both). "Dancers are fit." (Mr. Humphries, Are You Being Served?)

I can remember that line but not one from P&TB? I feel so ashamed.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ho-ho-ho, little boy! Have I got a surprise for you!

What with all the faculty and staff on campus whom I don't know but whom I don't like because they always walk around with attitude on their faces, it should be refreshing when I don't see someone like that. There are two men, however, who kind of give me the creeps. Oddly enough, they both sort of resemble Santa Claus. (Do you think this is like people who are afraid of clowns?)

It makes me think of this episode of Are You Being Served?.

Part 3

The shuttle driver to take me back to the airport from my mom's house showed up half an hour early. Yeah, well, he was forced to wait; I was ready on time.

At the airport, I had the misfortune to sit next to a Christian group leaving for Frankfurt (via Denver). I say misfortune because the priest would not shut up. I mean it; he maintained a constant monologue for over an hour. Two ladies near me moved to seats farther away from him. God help the passengers stuck in a plane with that man.

For some reason, I breezed through security that day, even though I arrived mid-morning, instead of dark-thirty a.m. like I usually do. Maybe flying on Monday isn't a bad idea.

I didn't use the lavatory, so I didn't have to hold anyone's baby.

I cheated on the flight, though. You'll recall how I mentioned that taking two separate airlines ended up cheaper than one. Well, it also turns out that returning to Nashville is cheaper than returning to Atlanta -- even though there's an extra flight involved. Waiting for a second flight, flying from Atlanta to Nashville, and then taking the shuttle back to The Noog would've made my late day even later, so...

I got off the plane in Atlanta and took the shuttle from there. (Homeland Security hasn't shown up yet to arrest me for skipping out on the plane.)

I still haven't returned to my normal sleep schedule. It appears that flying west, staying up late, and sleeping in is a lot easier than flying east, going to bed early, and getting up early.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Part 2

I did a lot of little things while on vacation in Albuquerque. First things first, though. I read the newspaper's comics pages that my mom saved for me since my last visit (seven months' worth). Then I read a year's worth of gardening magazines. (I hadn't read any during my previous visit in January.) After that, I read about eight books. Oh yeah, and I pulled weeds in the yard and pruned a couple of trees.

I also took my mom out for a few birthday meals (thanks to all those restaurant e-clubs my friend Gimpy signed up my mom for), bought groceries, and donated platelets. It turns out I also had to take her car in for service.

The "check coolant" indicator turned on, so after I let the car cool down, I looked in the reservoir. Actually, that's not quite right. I could turn the cap only 1/4 turn. My mom phoned a neighbor for help, and he came over with channel locks to turn the cap. When I told him my problem (he thought I couldn't turn it at all), he said, "Oh, you have to push down while you turn it the rest of the way," like a medicine bottle. Naturally, the car's owner's manual didn't mention that little tidbit. Razzlefrazzlesnarfin...

Anyhow, the coolant level was so low, I barely saw an orange glint in the reservoir. I poured a bunch of new coolant and water in, hopefully to a high enough level. The next day, as I drove my mom around town, the coolant warning came on again. After the engine cooled down and I checked the tank again, it was just as empty as before! Now I know next to nothing about cars (that's what mechanics are for), but even I know that the vehicle probably would not be able to make the 230 mile drive to Las Cruces the next day.

I took the car to Pep Boys. The service manager (not just a flunky) took one look at it (he had to see the engine to see if it was a special "Northstar" one, which it was) and said they had tried (!) to fix one of those problems before. It turns out that two parts of that engine are aluminum, but they're held together with metal (grammatical note: "metal" to most Hispanic New Mexicans means "steel or some other metal which is not aluminum, which you can take your cheapo beer cans in and get money for") bolts, and dissimilar metals (traditional definition of the word) don't react well. The bolts degrade, and coolant leaks into the engine and gets burned off. (This occurs rather rapidly, if my observation was at all accurate.) He said I had to take the car to the dealer because they had learned their lesson after buying the previous guy a whole new Cadillac.

The dealership hooked the car up to some sort of sensor, and an hour later, we had the answer: it was a leaking crossover gasket (whatever that is), which would cost approximately $800 to repair. Oh, and there was a tiny leak in the fuel pump, as well, but that would be cheap to fix: just $400. Hmm, pay $1,200 or have the car overheat and strand us halfway through the middle of the desert? Easy choice.

What really irks me is that cars aren't built the way they used to be. You see, my mom doesn't drive, so her car sits in the garage most of the year. Once a month, a neighbor comes over to start the car and make sure the battery doesn't run down (again -- we learned that lesson this past January). In olden days, a garage-kept, little-used car was a great thing to have. Nowadays, if you don't use a car, parts will dry up and shrink, so, ironically, not using the car means that it will break down faster. That is why my side jaunt to visit friends and check out my condo was Fri/Sat instead of Thu/Fri (which had been scheduled for Mon/Tue, which had been scheduled for Sun/Mon...).

I had a pleasant lunch with Betty on the way to Las Cruces. Then, to make the day even better, as soon as I unlocked my condo's front door and walked in, I felt (not just thought), "I'm home." Everything was where I had left it (albeit a bit dustier), but the entire atmosphere was welcoming. The condo definitely is a place I'm going to keep and return to one day.

I didn't get to see all of my friends on that visit. Thing One had the flu. Worker Bee had his daughter's fifteenth birthday party (but not a quinceanera) to handle. Thing Two was out of town. Tweety never returned my calls (and still hasn't). Gym Rat's phone was disconnected. On the brighter side, I did get to visit with G at Scoopy's, and Boss is glad to serve as my contractor to figure out what needs to be fixed on my massive, professional refrigerator.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Part 1

(Because I know I won't have enough time to tell you about my whole trip before I have to start work.)

I worked most of the day on Fri. 9/3. "Good," I thought, "I'll at least get chocolate chip cookies at lunch in the dining hall!" Alas, they posted a sign that said they were delaying the cookies until Monday because it was Labor Day. Still, I got to see my mom that night, and that's better than cookies any day. (No, I didn't ask her to bake me cookies.)

The cheapest flight was out of Nashville, so I took the shuttle service to that airport. (Note: it costs a lot more to fly directly to/from The Noog.) Naturally, since I was the tallest passenger, I boarded the van last, and I had to sit in the back row. That meant not only bending in half and crawling over all the full seats to get there, but crawling over a C.O.S. ("customer of size") as well. (I swear, her upper arms were nearly as big around as my thighs!)

Then, of course, we had to drop off a passenger at a Nashville gas station first, not at the airport. Naturally, he was seated at the other end of the back row, so the middle passenger and I had to crawl over the C.O.S. and other passengers to let him out, then crawl back over everyone to return to our seats. (When I'm in charge, if people don't do things like seating charts in a logical, orderly fashion, they get dragged out into the street and shot.)

Need I mention that I was dropped off at the airport terminal before the C.O.S.?

I discovered that American Airlines no longer serves miniscule baggies of peanuts or pretzels on their planes. (It's a good thing I packed my protein bars.) However, they did give me a full can of ginger ale on each flight. On my return trip, Delta Airlines (for some reason, choosing two airlines created a cheaper round trip than sticking with one) gave me pretzels (or peanuts, or a cookie) but not a full can of soda. Yes, airlines are getting that stingy. Their prices aren't decreasing, but now you get to pay extra for what used to be included -- like carrying luggage. For just $9, you, too, can have a pillow and blanket during the flight! (I'm surprised they don't charge rent for the seat belts.)

I got up to use the restroom and wash my hands before our "gourmet dinner". Are they making airplane lavatories even smaller than before, or do you (guys, I mean) also hit your heads on the ceiling when you're trying to take a leak? It makes it awfully difficult to aim when your head is tilted back so you can't see where the toilet is. (Don't worry, ladies, I cleaned up afterward.)

When I emerged from the cell, a woman standing there asked me to hold her baby while she used the facilities. I don't know; maybe I have a trusting face. (But since we were locked in a metal tube suspended 35,000 feet above the ground, where could I abscond with her?) The baby looked worried, but I talked to her in what I hoped was a soothing tone, trying to reassure her that her mother would be back soon. Thankfully, her mommy emerged just before she started crying.

It was after operating hours for the ABQ shuttle service, so I took a taxi from the airport to my mom's house. Why is it that a 20-minute ride in the taxi cost me $43, but a 2-hour ride in the shuttle cost me just $39?

I weighed myself before I went to bed. Both scales in my mom's house said I was five pounds lighter than the scale I use here in The Noog. (Yet another reason to live in NM!)

Given my typically early rising hour, the two hour time zone difference, and the late flight, I was up for 22 hours. Boy, did that bed feel nice!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More like a "blarg" than a "blog".

I'm back from my trip. (Yes, that's why I haven't posted in over a week.) I'm going to stagger through work today. This sounds obvious, but knowing something and feeling it are two entirely different things.

4:30 a.m. Eastern Time is not the same as 7:00 a.m. Mountain Time.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

On second thought...

I've been thinking of rearranging my workout routine again. This is mostly because, after more observation, I think it's the lunges I'm doing that make my knees sore while walking campus, not the actual walking. Plus, my knees might be a little quieter as I do the exercise, but other than that, I don't think the glucosamine chondroitin pills are doing anything for me.

I've been thinking of reducing my weight routine on legs to two days a week and moving them to Tue. and Thu., after my regular walks. One reason is that I'm emphasizing muscle growth for my legs less than my upper body (mainly -- and vainly -- because I don't want even more bulk under the fat), so one day less won't be bad (and less wear and tear on my knees). The other reason is that I could save time by showering on campus on those days (just like Mon., Wed., and Fri.), instead of walking home and then back for work. (Bonus points because I'll reduce my water bill at home and have to clean my shower/tub less often.)

As I pondered this post this morning, I realized how good it is to have the opportunity for second thoughts. What? Me embracing change? Maybe there is something in the water in the Noog.

Happy Halloween!

Sorry for the late notice. I meant to post this yesterday, but I got busy at work. (Sometimes, they actually expect me to work around here.)

The headmaster's wife has a pumpkin on her porch, even though it was only September 1. If she follows this through, we should be hanging Christmas lights off her house next week.