Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, July 29, 2013

I shoulda stood in bed.

Of course it's Monday, but did it have to be Monday again after a week of Mondays?

My "week from heck" (described last Friday) included my work truck allegedly overheating.  I had dropped it off at the motor pool and borrowed a truck from one of my employees, to finish out the day.  Today, I used truck A110, which is a backup truck for Grounds, and which recently (about two weeks ago) came back from being repaired by motor pool.  They should've kept it.

We had to jump start the truck this morning.  I thought that was no big deal, since the truck had been sitting idle, but the battery was hand-dated with an installation date in April 2013, less than four months ago.  From previous experience with personal cars, I know that I should keep the engine running, so that the alternator can recharge the battery.  That was no problem, as I could keep to city streets to visit my first site of the morning.  I arrived about a half hour later, circled the building slowly, and reentered the road to visit my next site.  The radio was flickering in and out, but that could've been anything.  Then the radio shut off completely, and I noticed that the turn signals no longer worked.  Okay, so I'll have to manually signal my turns.  A fuse probably blew; that's all.  Oh, wait.  The speedometer isn't reading any more...

Geez, what is it with me and work trucks that I can't even get a block away before something breaks?

I pulled back into the building's parking lot, parked in a spot, and left the engine running (to keep charging the battery, remember?) as I phoned motor pool.  As I explained the symptoms to the woman who answered, the engine shut itself off.  "Can you restart it?" she asked.  Of course not.

The mechanic who arrived to help was the same guy from Friday.  True to form, he looked under the hood but touched nothing.  However, he hazarded a guess today that the truck needs a new alternator.  Guess what our shop mechanic told me when I made it back to the office.  That's right; the truck had been at motor pool a couple weeks ago to get the alternator replaced.

Let's summarize.  My truck (A137) said it was overheating and is now at motor pool.  My backup truck (A109) has been at motor pool for two months because the "check engine" light came on (conveniently enough, on the very same day that my primary truck had been released from motor pool after previous repairs), and I haven't heard boo about it since.  Now my backup-backup truck (A110) is at motor pool for a possible battery and/or alternator problem.

Incidentally, management of the motor pool is up for bid.  If you're interested in seeing the R.F.P., let me know.  (Previous experience managing psychic mechanics is helpful but not required.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I suppose they think the line makes a difference.

This sign is in front of a Tulsa elementary school.

Others on my crew are more like "don't-zers".

Not only the relatively small size of this excavator and the sound made by the tracks, but also the build of this employee caused me to realize, "Hey, I have a Doozer on my crew!"

All he needs is a yellow hard hat to make the picture complete.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The lights aren't on, but somebody's home.

It was a dark and stormy night...  No, wait.  That wasn't even the start of this week from heck.

I had settled on calling Monday a Day of Inconvenience.  It was another of those workdays when I didn't have any water, didn't get a lunch break, and didn't get to go to the bathroom.  Still, I tried to put on a positive outlook:  at least I was heading home from work.  That's when the car ahead of me on the interstate kicked up a rock, which made a "star" on my windshield.  (The positive outlook came back when my insurance company and the glass repair company responded promptly.  The window was patched within an hour.)

Work on Tuesday was much better:  water, bathroom, and lunch.  I woke up at 11:44 p.m., though, probably because of lightning or thunder, and the power went out no more than three seconds after I looked at my alarm clock.  (Fortunately, my mobile phone has an alarm option.)  It was a slow-moving storm which seemed to be centered over us for at least 15 minutes.  There was so much lightning, I felt like a celebrity facing paparazzi photographers (or is that redundant?).

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were dedicated to storm clean-up.  There was no building damage at all to the schools, but we had branches or entire trees of all sizes down at nearly all schools in the district.  Clean-up will continue on Monday.

When I woke up Wednesday morning, I was pleased to see lights around the city.  I figured it wouldn't take long for the utility company to set things right.  As I drove around the city that day, though, I saw that traffic signals were inoperative in no set pattern throughout the city, and most of the west side (not where I live) was without power.  Estimates of the number of residents affected varied, but by Thursday evening, there still were about 75,000 of us in the dark.  Power companies throughout the south-central region have been called in to help.  The utility company told the apartment manager that we'd probably have power restored about 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

The really odd thing about this was that the building with the two-bedroom units and the building with the efficiencies still had power, as did every other apartment complex, church, office building, and YMCA on our street, but the three buildings with the one-bedroom units, like mine, (and the office) did not.  I charged my mobile phones at work, but all the food in my freezer and refrigerator will have to be thrown away.  The apartment manager said my renter's insurance might cover the cost, so I'll read my policy in the morning and take an inventory of what's going in the garbage.  (Do you think I need to photograph the evidence?)

It turned out to be much easier than I expected to shave by candlelight.  After all, the white shaving foam reflected the light well, and as I removed it, I could easily see which parts of my face had yet to be shaved.  The real bugger was putting in my contact lenses in near darkness!

My mom called last night and mentioned that her cable TV wasn't working, but it was on at her two adjacent neighbors' houses.  "Just your cable?  That's nothing," I quipped.

At work today, the arborist continued to give me attitude.  The branch chipper clogged up (well, if the arborist really knew what he was doing...).  While checking out other sites with one of his assistants, my truck started dinging, and "Engine overheating" flashed on the dashboard.  I immediately pulled into the closest parking lot and phoned motor pool.  The guy they sent out looked under the hood and said he couldn't figure out what was wrong.  (Seriously, all he did was look; he didn't touch anything.)  His suggestion was that, since the coolant reservoir was full, I should drive the truck back to the shop (on the freeway yet!) and he would follow me, in case anything went wrong.  Just after I got back on the road, the truck dinged and flashed the message again.  I pulled in to the next door parking lot, the guy looked under the hood again, and still couldn't figure out what was wrong.  Miraculously, the trip back (via Interstate 44, U.S. Highway 169, Interstate Loop 244, and Okla. Highway 11) was made without the engine smoking, boiling over, or shutting down.  I did get the overheating message twice more, though, and, the second time, it was accompanied by the temperature gauge spiking then immediately returning to normal.  (Since the motor pool has had my backup truck for a couple of months now, I had to finish out the day with a truck borrowed from one of my crew members.)

Upon returning home from work, I heard A.C. units running and went to the office to verify power had been restored to my building, as well.  Yes, all three buildings were back online!*  I headed to my apartment with a positive outlook.  I didn't quite make it, though.

* Speaking of online, I thought of something interesting.  If your cable goes out, you can always watch videotapes or DVD's.  If your internet goes down, you can always play computer games.  However, if your power goes out, then you darn well better be a reader, as I am!

A neighbor whom I hadn't met but who had given me a friendly, "Welcome to the neighborhood!" one morning, as I sat and read on my patio, caught me near my door, said it was her birthday, and invited me over for a drink.  I politely declined and was ready to tell her that, as an introvert, and having experienced the week that I had just experienced, I strongly desired some solitude.  I didn't have a chance to get the words out, though, because she then started raving.  Seriously.  She went off on politics, religion, sex, and goodness knows what else (What do Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, John F.  Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, several lesser-known televangelists, and Jesus Christ have in common?  No, that's not a setup for a punchline.), cried two or three times, used profanity and otherwise offensive language, stayed within my personal space (half an inch away is within anyone's personal space), and got handsy two or three times (totally unconnected to the crying times) for a solid hour.  (Ironically, isn't "solid" a synonym for "stable"?)

She wouldn't let me get a word in edgeways (as if telling her that I never discuss politics, religion, or sex would do any good), and interrupting is rude, right?  What's a gentleman to do?  Keep edging away from my door and closer to the public area of the complex, that's what.  I wanted witnesses in case she accused me of sexual misconduct -- especially since she raised her leopard-print tank-top (or whatever you might call a woman's garment in a similar style) twice.  (Don't worry; she had a tie-dyed-like bathing suit or something on underneath, but I'll be darned if I was going to look down to confirm it for you and give her leverage for a sexual harassment charge.)  Wouldn't you know that no one was in the courtyard that entire time?  (Probably at home enjoying the return of their air conditioning.)

I thought she might've been off her medication.  Maybe she took the wrong dosage.  Maybe she was drunk or high on something (she mentioned various illegal drugs several times that hour, but I couldn't understand her well enough to determine if she was asking me for some or offering – I definitely think she was offering the sex).  Maybe she is mentally disturbed.  I thought of calling the apartment manager but was afraid that the woman might get even more unhinged if she saw me reach for my mobile phone (I had my door key sticking out between my fingers in case I had to punch her and run).

Finally, an elderly woman walked by, but she didn't look up, and I didn't know her (not to mention that I didn't want to get a senior citizen involved).  The woman I always considered crazy (up to this point, anyway) walked by, but she never has responded to my friendly greetings in the past, so I knew she wouldn't be any help.  The friend of my upstairs neighbor walked on the other side of the courtyard, but he just waved back and kept going.  The newlywed said hello and kept going, as it appeared he was on his way to his shift at a fast-food restaurant.  Finally, a woman I had been introduced to just yesterday walked by with her tiny dog, but she seemed intent to read whatever paper was in her hand.  She was enough to distract the raver, though, so I whispered to the woman to call for help, as the raver was behaving "a little weird" (and the winner of the Understatement of the Year award is....).  Wouldn't you know it that the raver conversed almost normally when the neighbor returned (after putting her dog away and making that phone call) and the apartment manager showed up?  Thankfully, they were enough of a distraction that the rave ceased, and the (new) crazy woman returned to her apartment.

I wasn't exactly scared – more like nervous and worried.  I locked myself securely in my apartment, showered (more to clean off dirt and sweat from work, less to cleanse my violated mind), and read several chapters in a book, in an attempt to calm my soul.  Eventually, I ventured out to another meal out (pizza, since I can bring home leftovers, now that the power is back on, and since I won't head to the grocery store until tomorrow morning), and, yes, I treated myself to several refills of Dr. Pepper.  I think I deserve it after the week I've had.  Don't you?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I couldn't think of anything else today, either.

It was an inconvenient day at work.  As has happened before, I left the office in the morning, little expecting that I wouldn't have any water, lunch, or restroom access the rest of the day.  I'm hoping that this isn't a frequent occurrence (once a month is bad enough), but I shrugged it off and drove home, saving my lunch for tomorrow.  This (the song which starts the movie clip) was the song stuck in my head all day.

Alas, the vehicle in front of me on the highway this afternoon propelled a rock right into my windshield (right in front of my neck, it appears), leaving a "star".  Fortunately, my auto insurance provides for free windshield repair (but if I want to replace the windshield, I'd have to pay a $1,000 deductible, and you know I don't have that kind of money), and the company they recommended provides a mobile service, so it was repaired within an hour of when I reported the damage.  (I had eaten my salad by that point, but my leftover entree still was in the microwave.)  I am not only pleased but impressed with the service, thus I dedicate the following song to the woman in Kansas City who logged my claim.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Justification for a Raise?

I've found another reason why I should be paid more.  This time, unlike needing to buy basic groceries, restuffing my emergency financial cushion, or investing in my 401(k), this reason is utterly frivolous.  I want to be able to drive around for work and be able to stop at a new restaurant for lunch every weekday.  (Seriously, it's aggravating to drive by restaurant after restaurant on the way back to my office for a baloney sandwich.)

Along the line of me getting a higher salary...  I had mentioned to my boss, his boss, and the office manager, each at separate times (and only after I sensed that each was open to the idea), that, if one of the supervisory positions were to become vacant, I would not fill the vacancy but instead use some of the money to bump up two of the Journeypersons (Journeypeople?) to Leads, give a little to me for added responsibility, and maybe even have enough left over to create another Journeyperson position, if necessary.  Each one of them liked the idea.  Just last week, the office manager showed me a way that I could determine everyone's pay rate, using the work order software, so it would definitely be possible for me to see how much the supervisor makes and see how I could distribute that money to other positions.  I resisted the temptation to do that already this past weekend, but I'm only human, you know.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Whatever happened to...?

While shaving this morning, I somehow pondered what happened to the Swiss runner who barely made it to the end of the first women's marathon at the 1984 summer Olympics.  (Because of all the strange things I think of early in the morning, maybe I shouldn't be held responsible for making decisions until later in the day.)  Thankfully, she was (is) more famous than I am, and a web search turned up this article which satisfied my curiosity.

Incidentally, it's raining now, so I can't go for the walk I intended to.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Belt Clip Not Included

A few weeks ago, I broke the "indestructible" Otterbox that contains my work cell. phone.  Actually, I broke the holder which holds on my belt, not the box itself.  (My boss has broken three, but in a different manner than I.)  The company offers a replacement warranty, although it took until I returned from my training trip before the new one arrived.  In the meantime, I've been carrying the phone-in-a-box in my pocket.

They sent an entire new box and belt clip in the package, even though all I need is the belt clip.  What am I to do with the new box?  Should I keep it, in case I need it?  Should I sell it to someone who wants it for less than the price of a new one?  Would it be ethical to sell it, or does it belong to the company?  (This is a gray area.  Obviously, the company bought the first one for me, but since the replacement was free, and since it wasn't requested or needed, does the company own the replacement?)

I've already thought of the marketing slogan:  Perfect for purses or capacious pockets.  (Wouldn't Capacious Maw be a good name for a rock band?)

It was better than that "name all the things you have in common" exercise.

To start off the company training, the presenter asked us to write down "an amazing thing" about ourselves.  (She read a few each day.)

I thought it was amazing that I had collected so many owl figurines in the three years I lived in the Noog, but I didn't choose that because it would've been more amazing if I had known exactly how many I accumulated.  Instead, I went for what I thought was a dull thing:  the fact that I no longer watch TV.  (Although, now that I think of it, I could've mentioned my three library cards thing.)

My thing was the second one read, and everyone there truly thought I had accomplished the impossible.  One woman asked, "How can you not watch sports?"  (Ha!  That's another amazing aspect of my personality.)

It wasn't until two days later that a guy who had sat at my table the first day revealed that he had been on a TV show.  I pointed out it would've been hilarious if our amazing things had been read right after each other.  (I wonder if it bothered the guy that no one said, "Oh, I love that show!" or, "I thought you looked familiar.")

Yipes, stripes!

I spent a few days this week at a mandatory though unnecessary company training.  It was located at a nice, brand-name hotel near Fort Worth, TX.  You'd think a brand of their stature would decorate more tastefully than this.

The nightly rate posted on the inside of the room door said $350.00.  Surely they aren't charging my company that, are they?  I mean, if that's the case, I can do without all this frippery.

Who needs more than one pillow, anyway?  (That's a queen size bed, in case you're wondering.)

About the only thing in the room worth an exorbitant nightly rate was this cute little touch provided by the housekeeper (a washcloth with a ballpoint pen above it, for scale).

When my checkout notice was slipped under my door, I noticed that the actual rate charged was $139.00 per night -- and don't call me Shirley.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Feet Feats

After leaving a school site near my apartment, I noticed, "Hey, there's a library branch right there!"  Indeed, it is just about 1/2 mile from my place.  I have been there twice already.  It is small, but the price is right (free), and it allows me to read books I want to read but not buy.  More interestingly, it caused me to achieve, if not a record, a remarkable feat.  I now have three, valid library cards for libraries in three different cities (two states):  where my condo. is, where my mom lives, and here.  Thing One asked me if I had a library card from the Noog, as well, but I don't.  The school library patronage was so limited, the librarian just logged the books under my name in the system.

The first time I visited the library, I filled out the application, showed my proof of residence (bank statement), and showed my new, driver's license.  I picked some books off the shelf, but the other librarian couldn't find me in the computer.  "But I just put him in there," the first librarian said.  After much pondering, the second librarian suggested that, maybe, the first librarian hadn't clicked to submit my data to the system.  She went back to her computer and, sure enough, hadn't completed the enrollment process.  "I must have been distracted," she said.  Well, yes, my virile, muscular body tends to do that to people. :)

On my second visit, a different librarian handed me my books and the check-out slip, and I said, "But you haven't even scanned them."  No, she said, it wasn't necessary because all she had to do was place the books on that pad (similar to this one) on her desk, and it scanned all the tags instantaneously (even in one stack).  Wow, that's quite a technological advance to someone like me, who remembers card catalogs and libraries that didn't need scanners at the door, to monitor for pilfered books!

My other accomplishment was learning that I can walk to the post office.  (It's about the same distance, maybe a little farther than the library.)  I dropped off some bills this morning.  It's nice to know I have an alternative to taking my mail to the office and putting it in the outgoing mail tray, especially if I want to mail something on the weekend.  (It has to be pre-stamped letters, though, as the service section of this branch is closed on weekends, so no buying stamps or mailing packages on Saturday.)

During my walk this morning, I observed a variation on my well-documented ability to snuff out streetlights as I pass by them.  Apparently, I also turn off parking lot lights.  On my way to the post office, I turned off the lights in a church parking lot.  On my walk back, they turned off in a strip mall parking lot.  (Note:  this was well before dawn, and the sky was still black, so it couldn't have been a photocell system in either case -- unless both photocells are faulty.)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fun with Outmoded English

"Wait a minute," Cyrus ejaculated, tugging at his goatee.  (The Ape Who Guards the Balance, Elizabeth Peters)

Huh.  I usually tug at something else.  ;)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Another Updated Classic

First is the original Abbott and Costell routine "Who's on First?"  (Or should I say, "Who is the original routine "Who's on First?"?)

Actually, this updated version is the only good parody I've ever seen.  I hope you appreciate it, too.

Equal Time for other Children's Shows

Here's one of my favorite 60's beach-style songs (by the original singers, Jan and Dean) updated with a clever cartoon.

The Muppets vs. the Rest of the World

Looking back at a recent post, I thought of other songs that I first heard from (and wrongly assumed originated with) The Muppets.  Here's one.

The original was made famous by Rosemary Clooney.  (For those of you too young to know her, she was George Clooney's aunt.  And, yes, George Clooney was young once, too.)

Here's another Muppet version, followed by the original.

A Highly Scientific Online Poll

The instant I placed this large (just above my kneecap in height, when I am wearing sneakers), concrete owl outside my front door, I knew I had to name her.  Two, fitting choices sprang to mind.  Which do you prefer:  Sentinel or Pallas Athene?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Film Fun

Don't give me another drama/documentary about Scottish uprisings against the English, with a handsome actor portraying the stalwart though doomed clan leader.  The world has seen quite enough kung-fu style action flicks.  A fusion of the two might be enjoyable, though.  I hereby propose the following:  Celtic Tiger, Highland Dragon.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Where the Wind Goes Racing down the Plain

When I moved to NM, I found an elementary textbook of the state's history, so I could learn about where I had just moved.  (The history/poly. sci. departments at both colleges I attended claimed they offered a NM history course, but neither actually put it on the class schedule in the years I attended those schools.)  When I moved to the Noog, I found a similar book for Tennessee in a used bookstore.  I guess I need to do that in Tulsa, too, since all I've learned about the state so far is from this mural on the wall of an elementary school.  (The thingy on the border of the aqua and pink areas marks the location of Tulsa.)

That's a lot of uncles, too.

I saw this anthill on the infield at a closed elementary school.  You, unfortunately, can't get a sense of scale in this picture, but take my word for it that the ants are larger than the large ants we had where I grew up in southern New Jersey, and the anthill is larger than any fire ant mound I saw in Alabama (new state slogan:  Home of the Fire Ant).  It reminded me of those ant or termite mounds you'd see in an African nature documentary, only on a smaller scale.

The band, Elwood! The band!

Yay-us, ah do be-LIEVE!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

It beats the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon".

While looking through the various Flip Wilson sketches on YouTube for the one I included in the previous post (Can you believe that's the only one with "What you see is what you get"?), I saw one with Harry Belafonte.  The first thing I thought of is how he said, when appearing on The Muppet Show, that he had never before performed "The Banana Boat Song" on TV.  However, he's singing it on Flip!, isn't he?  Well, maybe it's a loophole, because he doesn't sing the whole song, and does it a capella in this clip.

Does the latter song he performed sound familiar?  Actually, it wouldn't to me, if not for this sketch from The Muppet Show.  (Can anyone tell me who sang it originally?  For many songs, I've heard the Muppet version first and then am astounded to hear the original.)

So, to complete the triangle, here's the clip I mentioned in the first paragraph:  Harry Belafonte singing "The Banana Boat Song" on The Muppet Show.  (I may have mentioned this before, but Fozzie cracks me up in this sketch.)

I'll call it the Geraldine way of listing ingredients.

I tried a Greek-style salad dressing from my usual grocery store.  When I emptied the bottle, I saw four garlic cloves in the bottom.  I thought it was unusual, so I checked the ingredients.  Sure enough, it said "garlic cloves", not chopped garlic or minced garlic.  As far as ingredients go, I guess "what you see is what you get".

Monday, July 01, 2013

Working Hard, then Hardly Working

After a week of "rest", I figure I ought to explain the gap in my posts.  For over a week, I joined a hardy group of employees who stayed late to mow around schools that the regular crews had allowed to get out of control.  (Sure, the high rainfall contributed to grass growth, but when we were mowing two schools every night and three on Saturdays, even after taking two hours to service equipment before heading out, why couldn't the crews do two in one day?)

Instead of getting off at 2:30 p.m., we worked until 9:00 p.m., went home for a late, meager dinner, and barely slept before it was time to get up the next morning and start over.  That's why you didn't hear from me:  I had no time to blog.

Mind you, I am not forgetting how lucky I am that I don't have to work 15-hour days every day, but I sure wonder why a few of us volunteered to do so, while the majority didn't, couldn't, or wouldn't.