Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Comedians of the Late 80's Could Have Done a Routine About Grandparents Having This Problem

I used to think I was technically savvy. At least a little. I could program any device I bought and the end result would be pretty. Well, not pretty, but at least functional.

For example, being able to set up my television from the early 80's (it is cable ready but has no other input/output jacks) to two gaming systems, a DVD player (with surround sound), and a VCR proved to myself that I could understand the electronics that have taken over our world. Sure, it takes two adapters and the cables behind the entertainment system seem to snake out more than Medusa's head, but hey, it worked.

Or so I thought. The gaming systems work. The DVD player works. The surround sound is good (although kept quiet due to the fact I live in an apartment building and unlike my upstairs neighbors I have some respect for others). The television shows all the channels, including those I didn't realize I had. The VCR even plays old tapes. Or did the last time I actually tried to watch a VHS movie.

This setup seems absolutely ridiculous if you knew my personal habits. I rarely watch TV. I don't play many games. My addiction to watching movies has declined. Now that I live alone, I find myself a larger fan of music than of television and have gotten into the habit of listening to iTunes shuffle. The television shows I do watch are typically shown through the computer. Heck, the picture is usually better on the laptop screen. The TV is that old. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure it was a gift for my 8th birthday. That was over 20 years ago. The remote stopped working at least 5 years ago. I might still have it somewhere (because it is for the TV and it would feel odd to my pack rat personality to make it part with its master) and I've vaguely considered having the remote looked at. Maybe the bulb just failed in it. Who knows? Not I.

But back to the subject. I used to think I was technically savvy. That was until I decided to try and record something. That something would be LOST, one of three television shows I actually watch. Since my season pass for the show on iTunes has been allowing me to download episodes only after I leave for work on Thursdays and since the conversations about the show happen at karaoke Thursday nights, I thought it might be nice to be able to watch the show on Wednesday evening after work.

My VCR will play movies. But record? I cannot figure this thing out. The more I mess around with it, the more I'm coming to believe it is impossible. But I'm pretty sure a child of 6 could figure it out.

Which makes me feel incredibly old. At least I was able to set the clock on the VCR.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

An Actual Snowstorm

As we left the building at the end of a Saturday night at work, we were amazed to see that the snow was actually accumulating and still arriving.

I love snow. I really do. That's one of the reasons I live in Minnesota. Flakes caught in eye lashes of cute boys, catching flakes on your tongue, the feeling of softness on the ground, it is all wonderful. Since I live close to work, driving in snow doesn't bother me all that often and I'm actually hoping for a bit more snow to arrive and shut down the city for once.

The problem is that our snow removal system is efficient. It is pretty good. Usually the roads are cleared up within 3 hours of the end of the snow. I saw 5 plows alone circling our parking lot at work before we left. Keeping pace with the flurries I guess.

There was lightning and thunder. It's a thunder-blizzard! That's just fun. The snow is still coming now, but it has lightened up a little. The weather report says we should get some more tomorrow. Either way it will be an adventure to dig the car out. I had enough trouble getting out of a spot at work having only been parked there for 5 hours.

To prove my love of snow and how insane Char and I can be, I bring you pictures of the snow angels we made. We were almost frozen by the time we were finished, but it was fun.

sea of white
Sea of White

yes, we are crazy Minnesotans
Yes, We are Crazy Minnesotans (Char making an angel)

finding the perfect place to drop
Finding the Perfect Place to Drop (Me)

My fingers were pretty numb by this point
My Fingers Were Pretty Numb By This Point

when is the last time you made a snow angel
When is the Last Time You Made a Snow Angel?

Halo Effect
Halo Effect (Fun with Photoshop)

Both of the angels shown here are from Char's angel. The pictures of my angel didn't turn out too well - frozen fingers by that point!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Door is Ajar

13 days and counting now, I've been driving a different vehicle than my wonderful silver Toyota. Parked in my assigned spot is a vehicle that I have come to despise. The eyesore is a PT Cruiser. I keep thinking the vehicle is a cross between a station wagon (loser car of the 70s & 80s) and a minivan (the replacement of the station wagon). I hope not to offend anyone who has purchased this type of vehicle, but jeez. It's awful.

When the station wagon met the minivan, they decided to sire a child that has no horsepower whatsoever. It is your basic model vehicle, no frills. The dash does give the temperature and direction. Besides the clock, which looks like it would be in place only on a yacht, the direction indicator is the only cool part of the vehicle.

There is a towel bar above the glove box. A towel bar! What is that for? I suppose it is a variation of the hand grips above the doors, but can't help but wonder if it was placed in the car to service those who just feel the need to dry out their clothes after a day at the beach. Or for those who live in their cars and may try to put a shower in the backseat that is 20 feet (exaggeration) long and has absolutely no leg room (not an exaggeration).

Enough about the Perfectly Terrible Cruiser* and just about time. I spoke to the body shop today and it seems my Toyota will return to me tomorrow afternoon. I miss it.

You be asking, "But why is the Toyota in the shop?" or "What is the reason for the rental?" Two weeks ago, while on lunch break at work, there was this ice patch that my Toyota found as I rounded a curve. The resulting accident was definitely recorded as my fault and I don't deny that. I was not driving excessively though. I was going 15-20 miles in a 30 zone and trying to be cautious of the weather conditions. The back tire just found that patch of packed snow and black ice and the back end fish tailed. There was another car coming from the opposite direction and my back end found that vehicle's door.

That's why we have insurance.

My car had about $3,000 worth of damage. And was still operable. I don't understand how they determine the price of damage. It does stun me how the pieces of the car can equal more than the value of the vehicle, but that's the way it is. From the pictures, you'll see the bumper cover is cracked - no damage to the actual insulator though. There are dents in the panel (the expensive panel - the one that goes from the hood to the trunk), and the glass around the tail light shattered. The light still worked fine.

No one was hurt. Steve and I just ended up returning to work later than we had planned.

*The PT in the PT Cruiser has sparked some jokes between DM and I. I have bonded with the car, agreeing with it that it is a terrible excuse for motorized transportation. I speak to it and tell it often how awful it is. DM finds this funny.



Tuesday, February 20, 2007

All is Well in the Land of Nod

It seems my ability to post each night has slipped. Taken a holiday, you might say. Nothing is wrong. There are a couple of noteworthy things to write about. In fact, there are notes for a couple of posts in my little notebook that holds a place in my purse. I do feel a bit like I've been asleep when it comes to blogging as of late, but we all need our rest.

The most important news is the fact my mom is out of the hospital, on the road to recovery. Her hip replacement surgery went well and without a problem last Friday. She moved from the hospital to a nursing home today. She hates the home, but with two dogs and two cats who love to be around her, she needs a bit of time to recover without worrying about them getting under foot. Scott says the animals are all like zombies, sad that she is not home. Sure, they still get their meals, but they do love her more than anything else.

I visited my mom tonight at the home. She hates it there. I don't blame her. It is quite the experience to walk into a nursing home. We spoke about her time off from work to recover. Since I work nights and she doesn't need to go to work, I may go over to her place after work to spend some time in the next few weeks. That would be nice.

Sorry for missing many posts as of late. I'll be around to visit on Tuesday or Wednesday night. I hope all is well!

Friday, February 09, 2007

While Jim Morrison was a Rock God, His Lyrics Leave Much to Be Desired*

Is this a coincidence? A case of bad luck? Do the planets align in a certain way to make this happen? Is there an aura that attracts a certain type of person to me? Or is it some weird form of magnetism that doesn't involve metal? Whatever the case may be, I have a way of attracting freaks. Not everyone I know, thankfully, but enough random strangers that make me believe the word stranger is perfect. "People are strange, when you're a stranger," as the old Doors song goes.

Shrunken head man. Farty old guy. El stalkerino. Mouse. Uncle Ga-Ga. Birchwood. Man-booby caretaker. Pete and Guru. The list goes on and on.

In the same fashion, I have found a new person to add to the list. Last April, my computer died. It was a heart attack. Quick, painful, and expensive. I purchased the laptop (which I adore) at Mega Electronics Retail (MER for short) and had to have the deceased machine poked and prodded. My hopes were that an autopsy could recover some of the lost data. My hopes were crushed. Luckily, my anal retentive personality allowed a minimal amount of lost files due to back-ups and uploads (Flickr is wonderful!). While at MER, I dealt with a man working behind the computer counter. I think I meant to write about that odd experience, yet never quite did.

The man worked for the Nerd Brigade. And he took the title seriously. Do you ever have those interactions with someone who is not quite flirting but you can see hidden intentions and those intentions are the creepy variety? That's what it was like talking to him. He was too familiar. He acted like he knew me more than he should have.

This is a man whom I instantly stereotyped into the group of men who would never move out of his mom's basement until she either kicked him out or kicked the bucket. Nerd Brigade, remember. Not cool, intelligent tech guy. No. Nerd Brigade. He looked over my paperwork, noting my name a little too much and I squirmed as he made it clear he now knew my address. One of the questions on the paperwork was whether or not I thought the Nerd Brigade should wear capes. I indicated in the negative. His remark, "I have a cape."

Once out of the store, complete with the laptop, I thought I was cleansed of him. I held this belief until a month ago when Steve and I visited the local fast sub shop. Walking in and seeing him behind the counter, I instantly recognized him. And he recognized me, but not enough to remember where we had last met. As he told me that he knew me, I played it off and pretended that I did not know him. The uncomfortable, searching gaze continued from his face and I ordered my food, hoping to be back at work as quickly as possible and away from him. We got our food and left without incident.

A week ago, Steve craved subs again. I realized at that point, I'd been avoiding returning to the sub shop in fears this individual would recognize me and try to start a conversation.

When we walked in, my stomach dropped and I wanted to groan aloud because he was there again, behind the counter. Again, he told me that he knew me and made a point of looking at my debit card, searching his mind for my name. I don't want to be on any list in his head. He tells me that he has a thing for faces and mine is familiar. This time, I try to play it off as a frequent visitor of the sub shop, but he is not satisfied.

In these interactions, I am comforted by the fact Steve is with me. While a co-worker, Steve is also a friend and someone that will help direct attention away. We get our subs and eat and notice other patrons doing the same. No one draws attention to the out-of-place item in the store. Acknowledgement never happens. It is as if there is an unvoiced agreement in society to ignore strangeness in the group hope that by ignoring it, it will disappear.

We finish our subs and get back in the car. Once clear of earshot, we can no longer hold it in. "He was wearing a CAPE!" I exclaim and Steve dissolves into giggles.

Steve, ever so cleaver, nicknames him, "Captain BLT," and creates a comic story around him. It is his secret identity and his sidekick would be named, "Pickles."

Who? Why? What? He was wearing a cape, a legitimate cape - not the bath towel variety that you'd find on little children trying to play Superman, but a silk cape with some secret symbol on the back. He was working at a place that does not have capes as part of the dress code. It was not required. Why? I don't understand.

Scary. Just plain scary.

*Check the lyrics to "People Are Strange." There is only one verse, repeated three times. There is a chorus that repeats part of the verse. Yeah, stick with what you know.