Archive for July, 2008

Last Thursday I went to help my mother organize her home office.  When she asked me to help her she said it’s because I’m “so good at it.”  Well, you all have seen the pictures of my scrapbook room so I’ll let you decide whether she was buttering me up or not.  It turns out that my mother has some very interesting books such as Visitation Made Easy by C.S. Lovett or, as I prefer to call it, How to Creep Out Perfect Strangers.  (Yes, my dear English teachers, I know that book titles should be underlined but apparently WordPress isn’t giving me that option today.  Or else I am just having a brain fart and can’t see it.)

It all begins with the door bell.  I know there are some of you un-enlightened readers out there who believe a door bell is just a clever invention intended to alert the homeowner that a visitor is standing on his or her porch and would like entry to the house.  But we enlightened folk know that the door bell is actually a gateway to Christian adventure

Oh yes!  With the simple push of a button, you too can experience an unbelievable Christian adventure!  However, one should not embark on this adventure unprepared – oh no, that would be what we in the industry call “Christian folly”.  Happily though, Lovett has made it easy for his dear readers to prepare for their visits by providing them with this handy list of “Tools You Will Need for Visiting”.
I like the idea of carrying a badge – it lends credibility to the visitor.  Imagine the scenario: ding dong!  [Woman comes to door.]  “Yes, may I help you?”  [Visitor flashes badge.]   “I am here from Operation Sunshine, Agent Double Oh Three.  Badge number six.  Might I come in to visit?”  “Certainly, if you will quit shining that infernal flashlight in my eyes!”
The visitor must always carry a flashlight because it is common knowledge that ringing strangers’ door bells after dark and after you have shined a light on the front of their house immediately puts them at ease.
Once you gain entry to a stranger’s home, you must size up the competition by locating the interest center of the house.  This usually consists of a clock, although a television should not be discounted as a worthy adversary.  The following page illustrates how one can locate the interest center.  (It’s rather easy to locate an interest center because there will usually be at least one person in the vicinity of the interest center staring at the interest center – especially if the interest center is a painted plate.  Who could ever take their eyes off a painted plate?  Not I, that’s why I don’t have painted plates in my home – I prefer to be the center of attention.)
You may have noticed the 2 interesting items in the second picture – a shelf full of cameras and a lovely painted plate hanging on the wall.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine which is the most interesting.  At these times, one should always acknowledge both interesting items.  Try saying, “My, what interesting cameras!  Have you ever used them to take a picture of this lovely painted plate?”  That will immediately put the visitee at ease.  Lovett provides some other hints on how to compete with your interest center – especially if you must compete with a clock.  Oh the horror!  I really hate visiting people who have boring clocks. 
By the way, be sure to ignore any children who might be in your way – clocks are much more interesting and dear to the heart of the visitee.  Be certain to engage the husband (or baby daddy) in a conversation about his interesting clock; this will give the wife (or shack up honey) time to clean up the house that she has obviously been neglecting all day in favor of eating donuts and watching Jerry Springer reruns.
Once you have scoped the joint, identified the most interesting item in the home, and given the wife time to clean up the pig stye, it is time to take control of the situation.  There are many ways to do this.  You can turn out the lights and shine the flashlight in the face of each family member one by one (which is the method I prefer), or you can be slightly more tactful (if you are one of those people who enjoys being tactful – hey, I won’t judge!).
If the visitee’s children are misbehaving, then feel free to point it out to the parent.  In a most tactful manner, of course.  Saying, “My, but your children act like rabid banshee squirrels; can’t your baby momma control them?” is considered bad form.  It is much more tactful to say, “Could you speak up, please?  I can’t seem to hear you over these rabid banshee squirrels running around your living room.” 
It would be most humiliating for any homeowner if the visitor discovered that his or her favorite show was Desperate Housewives.  The visitor must always tread carefully when interrupting a show such as this.  A comment such as, “Oh isn’t it such a shame that the only programs on television anymore are these substandard soft granny porn programs?”  The homeowner will have no choice but to agree and turn off the television so that the visitor may be the center of attention – assuming, of course, all painted plates have been removed from the area.  (Note to visitees: it is considered rude to ask your visitor to wait until the next commercial break.  Although if you are watching something very important such as the season finale of Desperate Housewives or the episode where the residents of Wisteria Lane find out who died in the tornado or the Friends episode where Ross dresses up as the Holiday Armadillo, it is socially acceptable to shine a flashlight in your visitor’s eyes until the next commercial break.)
Now, if you, the visitor, are visiting an area where you feel the baby momma and the children will cause untold interruption to your visit, feel free to take a partner along with you.  It is imperative that this partner is a creepy man with slick hair, otherwise you might not be able to persuade the parents to let him take their children back to the children’s bedroom.  You must also make sure he is handsome enough to distract the silly wife who might try to impose on your conversation with the husband.  The partner should definitely be able to make a mean cosmopolitan – you know, since after her donuts and Jerry Springer, the wife probably drinks a lot too.  And don’t forget that, of course, it is always the husband who makes the decision which church to attend and when.  Women really have never traditionally had any say in those matters.
I know some of you are thinking, “If a creepy unmarried dude with bad hair and funny glasses asked to take my daughters back to their bedroom, I’d shoot his ass with my .38.”  Well, now, that’s just plain unhospitable and you should be ashamed of yourself.
Once the visitor has the family under his control and doing what he wants them to do, he is free to sit down and enjoy a little tryst down memory lane.  The visitor should always carry a photo album with lots of bus pictures [refer to list of visiting tools].  There’s nothing that adolescents enjoy more than looking at pictures of church buses!  That’s always a sure-fire way to get new congregants.  I know that’s how I chose my church – I really liked the pictures of their bus.  For an extra special treat, be sure to include tons of pictures of people who your visitees do not know from Adam in your visiting album!  And don’t forget the old church bulletins so the visitees won’t miss one single announcement!
By now you may be thinking to yourself, “Self, what if I get my kit together and go scouting for houses only to find no one is home?  What should I do then?”  Well, Self, you have two choices.  You can either leave empty-handed or you can hang a creepy hand on the door to let the homeowner know that he or she (oh who are we kidding?  Everyone knows a woman couldn’t own a home on her own!) missed a very important visit from Operation Sunshine Agent Double Oh Three Badge Six!  The potential visitees will be bitterly disappointed at having missed the visit, so the creepy hand allows them the option of calling you to invite you over and invade their home!  Oh I agree, it is much more fun to drop in unannounced, but being invited has its benefits too.  I can’t think of any off the top of my head – it isn’t as if you will get to use your flashlight if you are invited, but I’m sure there are benefits.
Oops, gotta go.  Someone just rang my door bell!  And I’m all alone tonight and haven’t even loaded my .38 yet!

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I was informed of a new organization by an alert reader.  Actually, it wasn’t an alert reader, but rather I who discovered this.  (Or was it me who discovered this?  Or I whom discovered … well no matter, you know what I’m trying to communicate here; use your imagination.)  The organization is called the “Information Overload Research Group” and they are in charge of researching what happens when people receive too many emails.  If you think I’m making this up, then go check out their site at: http://www.iorgforum.org.  You can even subscribe to their blog and get email notifications when the group discovers something new and exciting about getting too many emails.

I wonder if they could come up with a way to make people stop sending me every email they ever see.  Seriously.  Weren’t we all vaccinated against the Melissa virus back in Y2K?  So why am I still getting urgent email alerts about this “latest virus” that the originator of the email checked out with a friend who works at Microsoft himself?  And why am I in email groups with persons such as the sender’s grandma, his preacher, his drinking buddy, and the local hooker? 

I will admit that I have, on occasion, forwarded a particularly knee slapping funny email.  But I don’t have groups, I tailor who I send each email to.  I would never send a naked bikini girl picture to my grandma!  And I certainly wouldn’t send a cute kitty to my dad!  If I get a funny construction email, then I send it to my construction buddies.  If I get a funny Avon email, then I pass it on to my Avon buddies.  If I get a funny Mary Kay email, then I … oh who am I kidding?  Nothing funny has ever come out of a Mary Kay lady’s mouth!  Who wants to be buddies with a Mary Kay lady anyhow?  To tell you the truth, they kind of freak me out with their pink power suits, matching cars, and oversize shoes.  Really.  Who the heck matches her car to her outfit?!  I’m doing good to get my shirt matched to my pants.  Those women give new meaning to the phrase “jingo mom”.

But I digress.  I found this organization whose sole purpose is to research how too many emails can effect worker productivity.  They have a point.  I sometimes really want to be in the dark about things.  For instance, I could have gone my whole life and been totally happy without ever seeing the picture of the dude who got his belly tattooed to look like a monkey making his belly button the monkey’s … never mind.

I do like to keep up to speed, however, when it comes to pictures like this:

(Incidentally, if you know who I should credit with this picture, please let me know.)  What I can’t figure out is the sewing machine.  Everything else makes perfect sense.  Had the guy been holding something like … say … an Easy Bake Oven, it would have made perfect sense.  But a sewing machine?!  What the heck?

There is some other information that I sincerely wish the IORG would bog me down with; the meanings of acronyms.  Oh sure, I can figure out the easy ones: TY, BRB, BTW, PITA, etc.  But what the heck is AFAIK?  Or PWND?  Or 2MRO?  KWIM?  Someone (and I hate to suggest this because I have found in life that when one makes constructive suggestions, one often gets put in charge of implementing those constructive suggestions) should make a list of commonly used acronyms.

While we are talking about things that suck, I would like to ask each of you to please quit using the phrase ASAP.  I do not believe there is any more obnoxious phrase in the English language.  Especially when it is abbreviated.  There is no quicker way to get me to ignore your pleas than to ask me to do something ASAP.  And also, if you insist on driving a battery operated roller skate, that’s your business and I’m happy for you.  But for the love of all that is green, quit pulling out in front of me!  I guarantee that a 4×4 doing 80 is going to win that collision.

Furthermore, have some shame, people!  If your children are out of control demons, your car is being repoed, you can’t stay sober for more than 4 minutes, your children have been taken away, your husband is a drunken fool, you get caught making out with your best friend while drunk,  and/or you must call the police while wearing a thread bare t-shirt and no bra then at least have the good sense not to sign the waiver allowing it to be broadcast on national television.  No one wants to see that crap.  Well, some people do obviously, but they don’t count because they don’t have enough sense to know what sucks and they probably use the word ASAP.

There are several other things that suck.  It really sucks when I say something hilarious and the jok-ee does not understand.  For instance, I keep telling my husband how funny I am and he just looks at me with a blank stare and says, “If you have to tell people you are funny, then you are not funny.”  So I always have to explain that me telling him that I’m funny is in-and-of itself absolutely hilarious which just illustrates my theory that jokes are much much funnier after I explain them.  Preferably two to three times.

Now I must go because it is my responsibility to warn the world about mysterious thugs who slash your ankles and steal your kidneys while you naively pump gas while downloading the worst virus ever to be invented – the Miguel Jose Rodriguez Virus.  True story, I checked it out with our local sheriff who happens to moonlight at Microsoft so he can afford to pay his taxes.

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I went into a store last week that I had never gone to before.  It’s called Maurice’s.  I proceeded to purchase a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and 2 pairs of flip-flops.  I thought the clothes looked a little like midget clothes, so I got a size up from what I normally wear.  As I approached the counter, the girl working there said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you are much too curvy for these clothes.  We only carry junior sizes; you might try the husky lady store next door down.”  Actually, she didn’t.  But I wish she had, it would have saved me a trip to return the midget shirt.  I wonder though why everyone in the store was at least as old as me.  Oh yeah, probably buying clothes for their daughters.  Nonetheless, I’ll have you know that the shorts and the flip-flops fit.

Today I went back to return the midget shirt that didn’t fit.  You know that sound that a rabid chipmunk makes when his tail is stuck under something like your tire (or a bowling ball, whatever)?  That’s the only way I have to describe the way the little girl in line ahead of me spoke.  She was yapping a mile a minute to the poor sales girl (whom I don’t think knew the customer in any capacity except this transaction), “So like for my college I have to take this class that you have to test into it’s called English and Communication 306 English and Communication in an Intercontinental Global Business Setting and you have to test into it but it’s required and I think it’s like totally stupid that you have to test into a required class if they make you test into it then it shouldn’t be required if it’s required they should just let everybody take it and at my college it’s like really close to an army base or air force or something anyway it’s a military base and so like all these guys in my class are in the military except for me and one other guy and we’re just like uhhhhh oh my gosh and I don’t know what to say to the army guys and stuff because it’s kind of scary one of them is like really old like my dad.  Oh I have a coupon I bought like five 20% off coupons on Ebay for like 5 dollars it was so cool I can use it more than once right because I only have one for here I have one for Old Navy and I just used it over there and they said I can use it again and again as much as I want to I got one for like Kohl’s too but I don’t want to go there because that’s more for like older people like my mom’s age or like over 35 and stuff my boyfriend just bought a house so I like need to save money because I know I’ll probably be moving in with him soon and I’ll have to like buy stuff and stuff.  Why won’t it read my credit card?”  Now, if the lack of punctuation didn’t provide you some kind of clue about how fast this girl was talking, maybe this will.  She purchased one shirt.  She said all that in the time it took the sales clerk to ring up one freaking shirt!

I wonder what would happen if her college required her to take Differential Equations.  She would probably like soooo totally faint and stuff.  I took Differential Equations.  I even passed it.  On my first try!  Anyone who hasn’t taken Diff E-Q, as we in the industry call it, does not know what they are missing.  Of course, it’s not like they are missing all that much, just one of the most powerful tools in mathematics.  Or so I’m told.  I didn’t say I comprehended it; I said I passed the course.  There can sometimes be a subtle difference in the two verbs.  Besides, in my humble opinion, the slide rule is probably the most powerful tool in mathematics; much more powerful than differential equations.  Slide rules are awesome!  In addition to using it to multiply numbers out to 42 significant digits, you can also whack people with it when they get out of line.  And conjugate verbs.  After all, NASA was using slide rules, not computers, when they sent a man to the moon for the first time.

By the time it was my turn at the register, my brain was so tired from listening to that girl that I could barely remember why I was there in the first place.  I finally got my wits about me and was explaining to the clerk that I had bought this shirt for my sister but it was the wrong color.  What?  You didn’t think I was going to admit that I didn’t know it was a junior size, did you?  For goodness sake, no!

The clerk was very professional and very good at her job and didn’t try to give me a bunch of heartache over the shirt.  While she was doing whatever they do to credit my debit card, another little girl walked in and asked for an application.  Oh wait, let me back up a little.  The sales clerk was also a manager.  Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah, this little girl walked in and asked for an application.  She was wearing knit tennis shorts that can only be described as having a 1/4″ inseam; they were so short that, had she actually had a butt, it would have been hanging out.  Whereas a normal person applying for a job would wear a shirt, she had on a tube top underneath a wife beater tank top.  She was also wearing rubber flip flops and had her hair in a ponytail.  Don’t get me wrong, this little thing was so tiny that she could easily pull off the look at, say, a volleyball tournament.  Now I’m not in retail, much less a manager of a retail clothing store, but I imagine if I were, I would not be thrilled about seeing someone dressed that way asking for an application.  But that manager, bless her heart, didn’t miss a beat in handing her the application and wishing her luck.

After that, I went to Chipotle to pick up some supper.  Thankfully, they have their tomatoes back.  But now they don’t have raw jalapenos.  Will the madness never end?!

On another note, I have a new sharp-eyed reader named My Dad.  Hi, Dad!  Sharp-eyed reader My Mom finally convinced him to come see me here.  Hi, Mom!  (My Dad can back a trailer too, just in case you’re wondering.)

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The old man and I went fishing with the baby yesterday.  It got me to thinking about backing a trailer (mostly because it’s such a zoo when we do it).  I really hope that my daughter inherits the trailer-backing gene from my husband.  I obviously don’t have it.  Theoretically, I should be an awesome trailer-backer; I totally understand the geometry and the concept.  It’s the implementation that gets me.

Really, I’m not a total idiot; I somehow managed to get through engineering school.  I just don’t seem to possess the required hand to eye coordination for backing a trailer.  Even when my husband gets it all lined up on the ramp and all I have to do is go backwards, I still screw it up.  Poor guy.  He’ll say, “Okay, I have it all backed up and ready to go.  When I give you the hand signal, put it in reverse and take it the final 3 feet.  DO NOT TURN THE WHEEL.”  So I get in on the driver’s side, wait for the hand signal, put it in reverse and the next thing I know, I have the trailer jackknifed and the boat hanging off the edge of the ramp with my husband hanging on for dear life.  Luckily, he has learned to put on his lifejacket before we begin the process.  Near-death experiences will do that to a man.

What makes it worse is that he can’t understand why I have this particular inability – or don’t have this particular ability.  The man has his Class A CDL meaning that, at some point in his life, he parallel parked a semi.  It is completely beyond him why he can parallel park a semi, and I can’t back a trailer 6 feet down a ramp.  But he has learned to adjust and we now have a system.  You see, I can pull a trailer.  Not that that is much of an accomplishment since all you have to do is turn a little wider (a skill the guy across the street has yet to acquire) and give yourself plenty of stopping room.  Here’s the system: my husband backs the boat into the water, gets out of the truck and into the boat, I get into the driver’s seat and wait for the signal.  When he has the boat off the trailer, he signals me, and I pull the trailer out and park it.  Then I get the baby, the fishing poles, the life jackets, the tackle box, the diaper bag, the camera, and the cooler (we can never remember to put all that stuff into the boat before-hand) and  proceed down to the dock where I hand him the baby and all our crap.  Then I climb into the boat and away we go.  When it is time to go home, we pull up to the dock and I hold on, my husband goes and gets the trailer (expertly backing it out of whatever ridiculously tiny mud-bogged corner I parked it in hoping he would mess up and I could finally laugh at him for once), puts the trailer into the water, and gets back into the boat.  At that time, I proceed with the baby to the truck and anxiously await his hand signal to pull him out.  Occasionally, he panics and starts waving his arms.  The first time it happened, I thought that signal meant “Faster!  Faster!” 

Apparently, I was wrong.  For those who do not know and who do not want to have their husband holler at them – frantic arm waving actually means “Stop!  Stop!” or “Turn left!  Turn left!” depending on the time of day.

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Most of you probably remember that I recently got a home phone.  I know you remember that because I know that you all hang on to my every word and commit all my posts to memory.  Pretty much immediately after it was installed (immediately being 10 minutes give or take), I started getting telemarketer calls.  I proceeded to do what any well-adjusted woman would do – no I did NOT call them back and tell them they had called a crime scene and needed to come down to the FBI for questioning.  What do you take me for?  Some kind of whacko?  No, I went online to my state’s attorney general’s website (did I actually get all those apostrophes correct?) and signed up for his famous Do Not Call list.  I’m not real sure why I rushed to do it since the website proclaimed that my request would be processed sometime in October.  What the heck?  4 months to make the calls stop?!  Oh yeah, I forgot.  Our state government is too busy regulating microchips that aren’t even invented yet to update the do not call list more than twice per year.  It was obvious that, as usual, it was up to me to take matters into my own hands.

I was very annoyed until I realized that this was perhaps my best chance to make a significant contribution to society (besides my blog, of course).  That’s when I made my amazing discovery.

Telemarketers are really really fun to mess with.  Be careful, we don’t want this to get around or else everyone will start messing with them and they might quit calling.  Then how will I entertain myself on a Monday night?  It’s not like there’s anything worth watching on television.

Telemarketer:  Good evening.  Might I speak with Mr. or Mrs. [significant butchering of my last name]?

Me:  Why?

Telemarketer:  This is an important call for Mr. or Mrs. [significant butchering of my last name].

Me:  Well, why didn’t you say so?  This is Mr. or Mrs. [last name].

Telemarketer:  This is Chris with Honeywell Security.  How are you doing Mrs. [slightly better version of my last name but still pretty well butchered]?

Me:  Kind of crappy actually.  The hot water heater went out last week and I don’t have the money to fix it because my bank account got cleaned out by secret Bush Administration operatives in order to fund the CIA summer ball and soiree’.  So, when I went to the bank to get my money back, they told me that they are unable to process my request until October because they have to wait for the secret Bush Administration operatives to re-imburse them and we all know how long it takes the government to do anything.  So then I called the Bush Administration to see if the president could perhaps issue me a PO number so I could get paid and he said that he could not do that because my money was being held in escrow so that the government could keep its eye on my blog traffic and … are you still there, Chris?

Telemarketer:  Yes, I’m here.  The reason I called is that I am working with homeowners in your area.  Are you a homeowner?

Me:  Why?  Are you from the government?  Are you infiltrating my phone line?  Oh no!  I’ve said too much already!  Tell the President to give me my money!  Good day, Chris!

Telemarketer:  No, I’m just calling to see if you would be interested in a home security system…

Me:  Isn’t that just like you people?  You don’t even try to be sneaky!  Now you’re just being so obvious about spying on me that it is plumb insulting!  Seriously.  Can’t you come up with anything better than that?!  Hello?  Hello, Chris?  Are you there?

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I’m the first to admit that I’m a bit of a hillbilly.  Just a bit, don’t go crazy.  I have indoor plumbing and all that.  But I did make this boat prop candle holder for my folks’ lake house.  I know a guy who knows a guy who got me an old boat prop.  Actually, my husband just asked his pack rat (or “collecting”, if you want to be all PC and stuff) friend if he had a spare boat prop laying around.  But it sounds much cooler to say I know a guy…  Anyway, my wonderful husband buffed it and shined it up for me.  I mod-podged pin-up pictures that I got from the internet to each propeller and then stuck a taper candle in the middle hole where one would ordinarily put a bolt.  Voila!  Instant lake house art – enjoy!

boat prop 1























boat prop 2

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