Monday, December 31, 2007
Jay: Prime Embarrassment
There we go, Sadie’s asleep and I am back awake, if chilly and feeling surreal from the hour or so asleep beside her. Poor Sadie was still arranging and rearranging herself while I fell immediately, inexorably to sleep.
We borrowed my brother’s old van to be able to go to my sister’s for Christmas dinner and festivities on the 23rd. While he wasn’t in a hurry for it back, and has the truck for the commuting needs the van primarily fills, I was not intending to have it this long. It came in handy for going to my mother’s on the 26th, rather than suffering her dropping by here. Those were the only two times we drove it. Being a van, driving it from Holbrook to Middleboro, Middleboro to Hanson and back, Middleboro to Bridgewater and back, grand total about 72 miles, made it go from almost half a tank to “I’m starving, give me some gas before I strand you by the wayside!”
Before I returned it, I wanted to gas it back up to something approaching either side of where it was when I got it. We were ordered not to fill it as we did last time, only to find out the fuel line had seen better days. Before I could gas it and return it, I needed more than the $5 I had on me to feed the beast. Thus delaying going to the bank delayed returning the car.
Which has the supreme merit of running and being a van, but has seen better days and, like the sainted Sentra, has foibles not necessarily worth fixing. It’s ironic that I would keep the Sentra forever if I had money, like a memento or a beloved pet, but if I’d had money, I’d never have driven it, or at least never kept it long enough to be amazed.
One of those foibles is that the driver’s door cannot be opened from the outside. You must open the passenger door, or leave the window down, and open the door from the inside. My brother is used to it, and doesn’t even carry spare car keys in his pocket to defuse lockouts the way I do. That started out as a ring with a key or two for a car or two, maybe a spare house key set, riding in my left pocket. On the very off chance I locked the keys in the car, I could reach in my pocket and let myself in, no AAA required. It grew to include my office keys, shrinking when I closed the office and shed the big client. That eventually peaked at keys to the building, the office, the three inner office doors, the client’s office, and the client’s building and little satellite office in Fall River. Near the end there were keys to the bathrooms in the building, but I never put those two on the same ring. I’d have made a copy and done that, if I’d stayed. The keys to the bathrooms thing was one of those shark jumping oddities that made it feel wrong to stay, even if there’d been reason.
I still think of electric lock controls as newfangled. If I think about them being there, it’s with a degree of wonder that might have me clicking up and down annoyingly a few times. Using them habitually? To unlock all the doors in one go? Not on my radar. Why would I unlock everything when there’s just me? My brother always uses the electric control and then gets out of the car. Which, incidentally, locks every door as soon as the car goes into gear, speaking of newfangled and not necessarily welcome.
Middleboro has an utterly insane rule, at least for self-serve gas stations (the full-serve around the corner gets two-way traffic at the pumps so I assume they are exempt), whereby everyone must go through one-way. This means that 95% of the cars go to one side of each pump island, while the other side goes all but unused. It’s apparently some sort of fire safety thing. I can remember when self-serve gas stations were a new thing in the region and the towns put places that wanted to offer self-serve through the ringer fearful and/or trying to protect the incumbent full-serve stations, making it next to impossible to get permission to be self-serve. I naturally wondered why they even required permission to operate, but I’m not most people, and there was a lot of hysteria. The rule in Middleboro strikes me as a throwback to the days of “oh sure, you can try to be self-serve if you want, but we’ll make it all but impossible.”
We like to get gas at the Prime station on route 28, at the lights near Stop & Shop. It’s usually the lowest price, or close to the lowest. It’s also a bit inconvenient, being on the wrong side outbound, and having limited pumps that are further limited by that regulatory madness. It was on my way, so I went there despite the left turn and the wait while two cars were ahead of me on the used side of the island and nobody was on the other side. Being low, I turned off the engine while waiting, then fired it back up and pulled up to the second pump. I felt a bit funny about going in and saying “$5 on pump 3,” since that’s less than two gallons, but hey, it’d get me to the bank and some.
The confluence of events led me to leave the keys in the ignition.
I never leave keys in the ignition.
The wait in line and turning the car off and on and fretting about only having $5 to put it came together.
I didn’t unlock every door. Just my door. I didn’t leave my door ajar. Why would I?
So I pumped and after the five seconds of pumping and the door handle laughing at me, I found myself patting my coat pocket and my pants pocket and then peering in the window, saying “oh shit!” and wanting to shrink into the background. There I was, stuck, totally in the way, reducing the place from having half the pumps it should to a quarter of them available.
Worse, I could see the orange of the lock on the sliding door, indicating that was unlocked, but it was locked. Another foible.
I called my brother to see if he had any advice on breaking in, left voicemail on his cell, called Deb for his work number, called there and found he had left, then ended up talking to him on the cell without having to call her back to go find his home number for me. I resisted the immediate urge to call AAA, knowing how long that can take and hoping to get out of the way faster.
The guy in the store was great. He was there all alone and had nothing like a coat hanger. In at least one Christy’s Market I worked at, we pointedly kept one for this kind of thing. It was kind of weird having to explain that the door I’d left unlocked couldn’t be opened from the outside, not my car, yada yada. He ended up out there with me, between customers, trying a pencil thickness shelf support hooked at one end, through the side window that we were able to open from the outside. Which didn’t help much, being so narrow. I ended up on the other side of the car, looking through the driver’s window (the side windows were too tinted) and trying to direct him to hooked the handle and, when that wasn’t going to work, jiggling the recessed lock slider.
Eventually other guys volunteered to help, including one who had been there, seen us, and then returned. About this time, I finally called AAA. They put it in as “motor running” emergency and someone was supposed to be there within 30 minutes. Within ten minutes tops we had it opened. In the end there were four guys helping me, working on three approaches. Mainly, though, one had a long stiff wire, better than a coat hanger, and we used a couple tools the store guy brought out to pry and hold a space at the top of the front passenger door while he tried to press the electric lock button to unlock everything.
That worked. Woohoo! One guy had been working at getting the window latch on the pop-out window on the sliding door unscrewed. I still need to make sure that’s tightened back up. There are a few scratches, but nothing serious.
The set of guys swarming over it made me think of people you’d see cast in a film in exactly such a scene, right down to the friendly, wise, distinguished looking older black guy who was like Nicest Guy Ever. They also reinforced the irreverent pride with which we refer to this place as Mayberry. Of course, we also joke about the whiteness of the place, reacting with mock shock if we see someone like the aforementioned guy from balanced central casting. I didn’t even think about that until later; at the time he was just one of my heroes.
Tools got into the correct hands. I thanked everyone profusely, drove out of that spot and around the corner, pulled over and called to cancel AAA. Nice to not have to use it.
I was at the gas station for just about an hour.
I still managed to make the bank. Just. Got the shopping done too. And was extremely careful to get the keys out of the car each stop!
Jay: New Year’s Bloggin’ Eve
I was hoping to do some posting tonight, in lieu of the proverbial partying, but at the rate Sadie is allowing herself to be readied for bed, I’ll be lucky to post about today’s experience here in Mayberry. Valerie for once sacked out as soon as she hit the bed, however hyper she might have seemed just prior.
Oh well. At least I did manage to hit the bank and Wal-Mart and Hannaford, where eggs are the latest thing lower in price than Wal-Mart. $2.89 for 18 large eggs, versus $3.58 for the same size and quantity. I never buy eggs at Wal-Mart, partly because getting stuff from there home is rougher handling than Hannaford or even BJ’s home, but I happened to look.
Okay, back to Sadie, before I fall asleep where I sit.
Deb: I’ve often wondered…
Why exactly it is that I feel compelled to read things that I know will just piss me off? I used to do it with parenting stuff and now I do it with fiber stuff (acrylic v. wool makes breast v. bottle look tame, people. Really.) and I have no idea why. I think there’s some part of me that fears that if I quit being angry at people for being people, I’ll disappear into a puff of irrelevancy. Or something.
I clearly need more to drink. Of course, I haven’t had anything to drink, but some days I think that chasing the three kids around leaves me making little enough sense that I qualify as half-drunk anyway. Heh.
The thing, of course, that I’ve always missed most about smoking is not having an excuse to go outside for 10 minutes and be left the hell alone for that little stretch of time. Why I can’t seem to justify that without the killing myself slowly part, I’m not really sure. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? But there it is.
Deb: Thanks, Mitt Romney!
I was going to put a post here, but I thought better of it. Let’s just say that I don’t tolerate any talk about how he’s presidential material.
Happy New Year, anyway.
Jay: About Eleventy-one
Last night I was poking around, trying to locate the local files for the main page of elhide.com and the original CotC page, thinking those both could use modifying, and thinking I really need to organize the files on my hard drive that are for blogs and other online content. I mean, more is already the case, as I have a “blogs” folder on the desktop, but there’s a ton of obsolete or transient or false start stuff under it, and other files are in folders off the root of C. Confusing. And if there’s anything this year needs resolve to do, it’s be more organized.
Anyway, I came across my “about Jay Solo” page, which was HTML and not part of the blog. Reading through, I was intrigued that I had updated it when I was 43 and again when I was 46, based on fun with strikeouts. However. part of the way through, it clearly reverted to obsolete text. Had I started revising and never finished and uploaded it? Indeed; the online version remains last updated in 2004. Oops.
That got me looking at my “eleventy-one things about me” page. The number of states visited and slept in looked odd, so I tallied and realized that I last updated that page after I married Deb, but before I went back to California to drive across the country with her. Wow. I didn’t look for an offline version to see if I’d gotten part of the way through and never posted the update. What I really should do is an entirely new version, changing some of what’s there and eliminating the clunky parts.
I long since left a page up at the original address of the CotC, but made it a portal to a set of links. That could be updated, but the big thing I need to change is the title. The page still captions with “Carnival of the Capitalists” and that is probably part of why it still tends to come out ahead of the current home in search results. That and it was the CotC’s heyday, when everyone linked that page and many of them left the link unupdated. Fewer people bother to link the home page now, even some weeks the people who have hosted, within their CotC post.
I also looked at traffic, and at least half the total traffic to my original blog goes to that CotC page. In turn, a significant proportion of the traffic to the current CotC site comes from the original CotC page.
Ah well. It was interesting, digging through the old stuff. Since online activity is going to generate part of our income, if only supplemental, there’s merit in getting it organized and taking maximum advantage of residual value of old pages.
Guess I ought to have some, eh? Considering I’ve been up for a couple hours and started the coffeemaker at the beginning of that. Considering I got to sleep at something like 3:00 and then had a restless night and a Sadie-invoked change of venue at 5:00 or so.
Jay: Happy Birthday
To my cousin Billy, who is 48 today.
The weather system never lost its warmth. It’s a bit wet and icky out there, but no snow. Apparently the record will stand.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Jay: The Secret
To getting the girls to eat until they are stuffed is apparently to feed them ham.
I made a Cook’s spiral half ham, mashed potatoes, butternut, and my first ever ham-based gravy. They each ate a couple of good-sized slices worth of ham, including the seconds, and Sadie asked for more gravy, including on her potatoes. We started them with a dab of gravy on the side, and a dab of the sweet dipping sauce left over from glazing on the side. They each demolished their sides significantly, on top of the ham. Sadie also learned to use a table knife to cut her own.
Each item was exceptional, but the big story was the gravy. I had seen reference to red eye gravy, but the closest I ever came to having “gravy” with ham was my grandfather’s sweet raisin sauce. I was intrigued by the idea of a gravy including coffee as an ingredient. My variant used half a cup of ham juices from when it was most of the way finished, just before glazing, a couple tablespoons or so of butter, a dash of onion powder, a pinch of celery flakes, a tiny pinch of red pepper, a dash of white pepper, about three tablespoons of flour, a quarter cup or so of black coffee from the pot on the coffeemaker, between a cup and a cup and a half of water, and probably around a tablespoon of dark brown sugar to cut the bitter aspect. It’s the first gravy I’ve ever made successfully without beef or chicken bouillon, as far as I can recall, and logically enough. It’s something I could only hope to duplicate in the future.
I could easily serve that meal in a restaurant and have people coming back and sending their friends. It’ll have to go on the menu of my hypothetical comfort foods restaurant we’ve joked about.
This takes place roughly 1 AM to 1 PM Monday.
When I didn’t go do errands Friday afternoon, this was nowhere in sight. Tomorrow is going to be… interesting. I can’t not go to the bank, even if it’s the one in the mall (weirdly, the closest branch) so it’s open late.
Looks like we’ll get our record December snowfall, which a couple days ago they were certain couldn’t possibly happen.
Oh well. Ham’s been in the oven long enough that it’s about time to peel and cut up potatoes and butternut squash to go with it. Then it will be sandwiches, pea soup, and packets of ham pieces for scrambled eggs or perhaps other things, like beans or mac and cheese. Gotta get our money’s worth, even at $1.69 a pound.
Perhaps I’ll make some applesauce too.
Even with having to go out tomorrow afternoon, regardless, I still feel like I ought to scrape up some cash from around the house to get milk and diapers. Perhaps a couple things of babyfood. But it can wait, really. I hope.
Any thoughts out there on the merits of employing timeouts - say, sitting in a chair in a corner - in the course of generating desired behavior or counteracting negative behavior?
Spanking has its place, but my hand could get sore…
Jay: RIP UHF
My father gave us a hand-me-down old 27” TV recently. It’s been great! Odd, though, the sound would sometimes be fuzzy on UHF stations.
Last night UHF died entirely. Since the antenna still works to receive and modify reception of VHF, it would appear to be the innards that process and display the UHF signal.
Where is most of what passes for kid’s programming on broadcast TV? UHF. Where is at least half of what we watch otherwise? UHF.
Notwithstanding that it still works fine for watching DVDs, looks like I will promptly be swapping our
23” 21” set back into usage, and hope it doesn’t get any ideas from the other one.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
I just published a series of eight posts with or related to Christmas pictures of the kids. Don’t assume the first one or two are it. That’s a big chunk of the current from page.
Jay: You Gotta Have Art Supplies
Sadie’s equivalent of the Play-Doh was an art kit, including water colors, which she was excited about. It also has crayons, oil crayons that are the generic of Cray-Pas, colored pencils, markers, glue, a sharpener, and probably something I’m forgetting. She was ecstatic. The second picture here gives some idea of her reaction. The pairing of the Play-Doh and art stuff was perfect. While Sadie used her paint and tried out the markers, Valerie was completely occupied by the Play-Doh.
Besides the kit, they each got crayons, chalk, pencils, pens, and stickers. Sadie got erasable colored pencils. That stuff has been the main thing they’ve used since Christmas, as the kitchen floor can attest.
Jay: Not to Be Confused With Real Doh?
Valerie got a major gift of a nice Play-Doh set, recognizing her being able to play with it without eating it, now. She was thrilled. Sadie thought it was pretty cool too. It’s an excellent set, better in some ways than the ones Sadie has had over time.