Sunday, March 28, 2010

Stompa Stompa STOMPa

We went to see "STOMP!" last night at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore.  When I saw the tour was coming, I was more delighted that it is a theater related production Adam will tolerate attending with me than for the show itself.  Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved musicals, and one of my first obsessions as a kid was "Annie".  My mom even made me an Annie dress, and I was a bit psychotic for all things Annie.

First obsession?  Probably first obsession was Fred Rogers.  Actually, come to think of it, my adult self would have been my three year old self's hero - I still wear cardigan sweaters daily due to coldness in office, and I seriously thought of buying a pair of blue sneaks with white piping on the bottom the other day.  (Did not buy them do to recent need to save money for payment of largeish bills.)

So Annie was second obsession.  My life from age three to sixteen can pretty much be chronologically sorted into various obsessions.  I can picture the timeline now:  Mr. Rogers, Annie, the Smurfs, bit of a dry spell, Bon Jovi, Kirk Cameron, (I think we're up to fifth grade now), The Babysitters Club books (I was so jealous of kids who had neighbors and could walk to school), Alan Alda (of M*A*S*H), Saturday Night Live, Anthony Kedis (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Aerosmith.   When I got to college, I found little time for obsessions as I was too busy, umm, studying.  Yeah.  Studying.

I still love me a good musical, and really want to see Les Miserables in a theater*.

I am aware that musicals are not very realistic. I have never been delusional about this, and I admit, chorus numbers used to bug me. Here would be someone singing a spontaneous song about a personal hardship, and suddenly the random man off the street joins in, and knows all the words?  Of course, I got over it.  After all, the whole premise is a fantasy, for people don't go about singing and dancing when life gives them lemons (or lemonade). But I ask you: how great would it be if they did?

Not very, according to Adam.  He just can't get over the absurdity of it all. 

So, in general, I miss the musicals when they come into town.  I saw "Chicago" with some girl friends, and of course I saw "Annie" with my sister and grandmother...but I have never been to the Hippodrome with my Adam.

I have always been intrigued by STOMP!, but a little wary that it would be akin to a three hour drum solo.  I enjoy an occasional drum solo, but even when the drummer is awesome, I can't tolerate more than about 5 or 10 minutes.  But when this show was over, I was kind of surprised.  "Why are all these people getting up for a standing ovation?" I thought.  "Don't they know the show isn't over yet?"

But then the cast came out and bowed a bit and it was over.  Even the cast coming out didn't totally convince me - there are only eight cast members and the show was a bit interactive.  It would not be odd for all eight members to be on stage, "talking" (the show is silent, except for the banging) to the audience.  But when the house lights came on, I realized.  The show was over.  Apparently it was almost two hours long.  Go figure.  It only seemed like 20 minutes.

*I'm just sayin'.  If you're interested.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Mini MacGuyver

I recently posted about my secret desire to mimic MacGuyver.  One of my personal faves is my solution for a missing hairtie:  I pull my hair into a single braid and use my ring to circle around the end.  I slide the ring up as far as it will go, and wah-lah!  Instant hairtie.  I have very thin hair and small fingers, but I think even thick haired folks could at least pull back some hair using this method.  I most often use this at the gym - it survives the average step aerobics class without loss of ring.

Turns out, my geniousness (geniosity?) is inspirational.

When the furnace wasn't working, we turned it off.  Though not 30 degrees anymore, it can still get chilly at night, so we built a fire and closed all the doors so as to keep the heat in the living room.  We used a space heater at night in the bedroom, but kept the door open a crack since the cat likes to go in and out.  She has cat business to attend to at night - in addition to the occasional romp on my kidneys, she needs to eat and poop.

She cannot, however, open doors.  So her litter box might as well have been in China.

She tried to tell us.  She was especially annoying and more attentive to her kidney-stomping.  I have learned that, in general, loveyness does not translate from cat language into "I love you", "I like you" or even, "I tolerate your existence."  It generally means, "I am hungry", "I am hungry", or "Feed me now before I learn how to work a phone and call animal services for there is dish visible below my food."

Apparently, cat affection can also mean "I need to take a dump, like seriously, let me into the frickin bathroom."

But, my little mini MacGuyver was not phased by her dumb humans.

She found a plant, dug out the dirt, and pooped on the fireplace hearth.  She neatly covered her droppings with the dirt, and continued with her day.

I am so proud.  (And very glad that I was not home to observe it firsthand.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Apparently, I AM Made of Money...Or So They Think

I was driving to a meeting the other day, when a few lights popped up unexpectedly on the dash.  Yikes.

They seemed to indicate that I did not have brakes - certainly not anti lock brakes, not so sure on the regular ones - so of course, I continued driving.  I do this often with weird noises, and I find that a proper radio volume is an extremely effective means of silencing these minor annoyances.  But lights?  Not so easy to ignore.  Plus there was the whole "I might lose my brakes" concern.  So, I drove back to the office, then home, then to volleyball back in the city, then home again, and back to the office.  But those darn light just didn't go off*:
Finally, I took the car in to the shop...and decided to let them know that the last repair attempt was unsuccessful (in September 2008, or so their records say...I kinda thought it was like a month ago...)

The bill:  $1100.  Double yikes.

" my regular brakes work?" I say.
"Yea," the guy says, "but you don't have anti-lock brakes."
"You would only use those in a panic situation," he adds helpfully.
"So I don't need need those?"
"Well, not usually.  But in a panic siutation..." he trails off.
"Ok - let's just wait on that," I say with confidence.

The bill:  $630.  Back to one and half yikes, with only minor fear of sliding uncontrollably off a cliff.
I drove home.

And then I saw the decidedly unnormal black smoke rising from the furnace vent.

"That's totally normal, right?" I tried to convince Adam.
"And that nasty smell?  That's just, umm, from the cat, right?  Or maybe there is a dead thing in the basement?" I was trying to think positively.

The furnace guys seemed to think otherwise.  They're here right now, cleaning the thing out.  And another guy is supposed to turn up shortly with a $475 part.  Great.


Understandably, I am a tad more conscious of my spending patterns, and it was with much righteousness that I returned the the supermarket which had charged me $5.49 for a gallon of milk.  I had seen this price posted, but also saw that the "club price" was only $2.59, so I figured my card didn't work.  This because I had also purchased steaks to cook out on the beautiful sunny weekend (the Weber works great, Brandon!).  But the steaks too, were listed at $5.88 a pound with obnoxious signs, and I was charged $7.89.

You know that saying, "the customer is always right?" Well...sometimes the customer is a moron.  The person at the desk explained how I bought Organic Milk, which was truly $5.49, and how the steaks were not listed as sale items.  (I went back to the meat department and saw that the sale price was only given if 4 or more steaks were purchased.)  I practically begged her not to give me my money back, and apologized for my inability to read...but she gave it to me anyway.  And she is sending a new card out to the house.

So, car repair: minus $630.
Furnace repair:  minus $719
Wegmans refund:  plus $9.99

Feeling like a moron:  priceless.

Dang, I wish I was made of money.  But you know, even if I had a million dollars, I would not want to spend it on "solenoid valve replacements", new "BP pressure chambers", or "organic milk".  Vacations in exotic places?  Now that's more like it.

*Note in this picture, I am NOT moving.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hey, Who Left This Dusty Beer on the Bookshelf?

I believe I have mentioned before that I do not, as a general rule, enjoy Reality TV.  I don't watch American Idol, or Dancing with the Stars.  I don't watch the one with the chef, or the other one with the chef, or the kitchen one.  I don't know anything about bachelors, bachelorettes, models, cakes, monster bikes, or (sadly) losing weight.  I do occasionally watch the one with the English lady who tames the bratty kids, and I used to watch the one with tribes on an island back in the day.  But, I do have a weak spot:  I love all the home makeover, home improvement, and monster remodeling shows.

Now that I have become a homeowner, I realize how unreal those shows are.

Hanging Curtains on Trading Spaces:  There will be a cute little intro where the lady of the house picks up the drill and presses the trigger timidly, some fast scenes with music of her getting on a ladder, removing outdated brackets from each window, then flash to her adjusting the rod, with perfectly matched curtains hanging in full glory.  Total elapsed time - 15 to 20 minutes, by my estimation.

Hanging curtains in real life: Get ladder below outdated brackets, pull out drill with screwdriver attachment, but realize bracket proximity to screws is too close for use of drill.  Climb down ladder.

Get screwdriver and try to remove screws.  Decide different screwdriver would work better.  Climb down ladder.

Successfully remove one screw, but get stuck on second screw because it is one of those expansion dealies with the little plastic thing embedded in the plaster.  Attempt to pry out plastic dealie with screwdriver, but realize pliers are required.  Climb down ladder.

Pull out plastic thing.  Notice biggish hole in wall, which requires spackle.  Climb down ladder.

Apply spackle into hole, but then accidentally pull spackle out of hole when attempting to smooth over.  Repeat.  At long last, feel satisfied with spackle, but need beer for more energy and to pass time as spackle dries.  Climb down ladder.

Gather paint supplies, correct paint for room, and sanding paper.  Climb up ladder with paint on paint brush, then remember sanding should be done first.  Climb down ladder.

Sand, paint.  Crap.  Get paint on ceiling.  Decide to get white paint and fix this along with other areas where paint got on ceiling earlier despite massive amounts of painters tape.  Climb down ladder.

Now here's an obvious one for you - it is better to wait for paint on ceiling to dry before mixing it with white paint.  Doh!
Drill holes for modern rod brackets in much more modern position close to window.  Insert screw into hole and begin applying pressure with screwdriver, then drop screw into radiator below.  Swear.  Drink more beer, which was apparently positioned below sanding and plaster drilling operations.  Mmmmm....Dusty beer.  Climb down ladder.
Find screw, repeat screwdriver operation, and successfully attach bracket through hole #1.  Realize bracket is not straight and decide level is required.  Climb down ladder.
Get bracket to straighter position and check with level.  Hmmm.  Apparently bracket was already straight.  Sip more dusty beer, place away from work area, and drill second hole.  Attach screw successfully on first try and search for celebratory sip of beer, which you know you moved away from work area, but can't exactly locate now.  Climb down ladder.
Repeat all steps (including dropping screw into radiator, it is apparently a very necessary part of the process) with other side of window.  Climb down ladder.

Get new rod and prepare for moment of triumph as it is time to place it on the lovingly installed brackets.  Realize that "modern location" near window is too close because rod does not adjust that short.  Rod is approximately two inches too long.  Cry.  Climb down ladder.
Redo all steps with all windows, and DO NOT forget to drop that frickin screw!  Now you are ready for curtains.

Go to fabric store and huddle in fetal position in a corner for a few moments.  The fabric store is big.  It has many things besides fabric.  It is unclear if you should remove the large spools of fabric or if store representatives typically do this for you.  It is not certain if area labeled "window fabric" is fabric specifically for curtains of if any fabric is game.  All around you, women are talking about projects they are working on.  They seem knowledgeable, and crafty.  They all know more than you do.  Watch them.  Learn from them.  When you are ready, emerge from corner.  Now, go find your fabric!

Search and search and ponder and wonder.  Look at all colors, pick up many types of fabric.  Realize some of these cost $30 a yard and you need 21 yards.  After approximately three hours, a PA announcement will tell you the store is closing in ten minutes.  Hastily make choices and proceed to register.

To make curtains, lure mother to your home with promises of burritos.  Be sure she brings all required equipment, including needles, thread, and pins.  Then set her up, sweat shop style, in the kitchen.  Who knew making curtains could be so easy?

Finally, hang curtains on rod.

Elapsed time (and I am not making this up):  18 hours.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MacGyvering It Up

MacGyver - a secret agent who used not brawn, not fancy technological gadgets, but his BRAINS to get himself out of trouble.  Granted, some "MacGyverisms" are better than others....I saw one episode where he and his newly found son get trapped in a pit and manage to use fire extinguishers strapped to their backs to propel themselves upwards...But honestly, it must be hard to think of new tricks every week, and this was one of the later episodes.  So cut poor old MacGyver some slack.

I fancy myself a bit of a MacGyver.  I mean, I don't typically need to disarm bombs with paper clips or use my bicycle tire as a slingshot, but I enjoy the challenge of using the things around me to solve a problem at hand.  I think my first personal "MacGyverism" was at age five, when I was too short to reach the cabinet with the glassware. I found a long spoon to stick in the edge of the door and pry it open, then climbed up on the counter to retrieve a glass.

Ok, so there technically were chairs available which could have been dragged over...but I fancied myself pretty clever because this method was silent and allowed the opportunity to drink Kool Aid undetected.  Ugh.  Kool Aid.  Way too sugary for me now.

But I digress.

Last night's MacGuyverism was a bit more impressive.  I can't find my knee and elbow pads for broomball anywhere, and I have unfortunately learned the hard way that they are most definitely required.  (I hope to regain full movement in my knee someday...but I am beginning to think it may not ever happen.)  So, no knee pads.

Plan A: Don't fall.

Plan B:  Use foam intended for packing plates and glassware into moving boxes as knee pads.  Connect packing foam to knees using plastic bags, ripped into strips and poked through foam using keys as hole-pokers.

Check and Mate. (But sorry Tiff, I think that packing foam is unusable for its original purpose - turns out plastic foam is really sweaty on the knees.)

Luckily, Plan A was successful.  I only fell on my ass and we all know I got plenty o' padding there, thank you very much.  I think my mom let me have too much Kool Aid when I was a kid.