Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The narcoleptic bookworm

Last night I tutored several GMAT students at a Borders bookstore. We sat in the cafe area with every college study group in town. The cafe has tables around the perimeter and couches and chairs in the center. My little group was at a table near one of the couches.

Sitting on that particular couch was a man with a cup of coffee reading. I didn't catch what h
is first book was, but the second was Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. The next time I looked over, this guy was sleeping! Not homeless-man-in-the-library sleeping, but sitting-on-your-couch-at-home-reading-something-you're-not-really-into sleeping. He was still holding the book up, but it had kind of slipped closed, so it was clear he was no longer actually reading.

Now, I can relate to narcoleptic lapses. I've been known to nod off in classes, meetings, seminars, libraries, etc. But if I had fallen asleep in the cafe at Borders, I think I would have decided it was time to pack up my stuff and head home.

Not this guy. After he woke up, he continued to sit there and read. And drink coffee (decaf?). I think he just really didn't want to buy the book (which goes for $5.99, by the way).

P.S. - If anyone wants to start a business with me, how about a high school/college study lounge? We could have comfy places to study and we could sell snacks and drinks. The only problems are that: 1. I don't know how we'd actually make money, since most studiers don't want to shell out the cash to eat or drink. 2. They already have these - they're called coffee shops.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I'm fine, and so is the car

On my way home from work last night, I was involved in a minor traffic accident. Everyone is fine, as is G's vehicle, which I was driving.

I was stopped in a line of traffic, listening to a story on NPR that I was interested in, when all of a sudden, the car behind me ran into me. I thought this was weird, since I had seen her stop behind me just seconds before, but there was no mistaking that bump.

Of course, it was raining and dark. The woman behind me (a college student) ran up to my car and said she'd talked to the others and we should all pull over up ahead. Ah, there were others. This makes more sense.

Turns out there were a total of four cars involved. A taxi hit an older woman in a big car, who hit the college student, who hit me.

So we all stood out in the rain (under umbrellas which at least kept the top halves of us dry) waiting for the taxi driver's supervisor and the police to arrive. All told, we spent over an hour waiting for the whole thing to be taken care of.

The funny part was the older woman in the big car. She was a little kooky, I think, although I don't think the accident caused that. She talked on the phone to someone (husband?) several times. At one point she told him that she's "good in panic situations." First, I don't think this was necessarily a "panic situation" since no one was hurt and the only vehicular damage was a couple of scratches. Second, she followed this up by yelling, "NOOOOOO. We're WAITING for the police. NOOOOOO. They're not here yet." Although perhaps not panic, that certainly wasn't calm.

To top it off, she kept thanking me and the college student for stopping, as if we had done it for her. "That was so sweet of you two to have stopped. Thank you so much. That was really nice." We were involved in the accident, too, lady. They don't like it when you leave the scene of an accident.
So maybe it wasn't so much sweet as it was required by the law.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Thanksgiving toilet

We enjoyed a very nice Thanksgiving and the associated long weekend. Despite my lack of planning, the food was yummy. (Except for the scalloped potatoes that I decided not to even finish baking because they looked so disgusting. I don't know what happened there. And I won't mention the squash casserole that I burned a little and we called "blackened.") Definitely not up to my usual standards, but passable.

Maybe even more exciting than the Thanksgiving meal, however, is the fact that we had a functional toilet for the gathering! We (mainly G, as I was cooking) installed the toilet just before our family arrived. But we did it! It's beautiful!

G's parents and my parents joined us for the festivities, and they very kindly oohed and aahed over our marginally functional bathroom as well as the marginally delicious meal. We had a great time visiting with them!

Incidentally, we went downtown to look at the Christmas lights on Thanksgiving evening, and my parents got to hear the one hit wonder. They thought he sounded good (which he does the first time you hear his song), but I had his single riff stuck in my head all night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Is it really just silliness?

I'm sure you've noticed that the name of my blog is "just silliness." There's not any real reason why, except that's what popped into my head when I decided to start a blog. I was reading someone's blog and saw a little box at the top that said "get your own blog," so I did. There was no planning period when I tried out different names or color schemes. This was a spur of the moment kind of thing. (You may notice a "get your own blog" box at the top of this page. Feel free to click on it just like I did.)

But I digress. As I was thinking back to previous posts, I realized that maybe it's not just silliness. Maybe you visit my blog looking for silliness. And maybe you're not satisfied. So today, just for you, I have some silliness.

Last night G and I had spaghetti for dinner. No big surprise. We have spaghetti for almost every meal (slight exaggeration). I asked G to get out the parmesan cheese. The following ensued:

G: Do you know what they'd call it if parmesan cheese took over the world?
me: No, what?
G: Parmegeddon.
me: (lots of giggling) Did you just make that up yourself?
G: Yep.
me: I'm totally putting that in my blog.

There you go. Nothing but silliness.

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Moving right along

I was pleasantly surprised when our electrician showed up at nine this morning just like he said he would. "Why surprised?" you might ask. Well, because sometimes he doesn't show up. At all.

We found our electrician through our old landlord. He was a friend of his or a friend of a guy he worked with or something like that. So we got rid of our landlord (by buying his house), and we kept the electrician. And let me tell you, this guy is good. He does an excellent job, his prices are reasonable, and he's a nice guy to boot. But punctuality? Not his strongest suit.

He's always (or at least as long as we've known him) had this problem. He would say he'd be by after work the next day and he just wouldn't come. That wasn't so bad. The worst was when I would leave work early to meet him at our house and he wouldn't show up (no phone call either). I think he did that at least twice.

A week or so ago, G worked from home, and the electrician came by in the morning to see what he needed to buy in order to rewire the bathroom that afternoon. He told G he'd be back in a little while, but he never came back. Turns out he went home, wasn't feeling very good, and ended up sleeping into the evening.

So he said he'd be at our house this morning at nine to finish up the bathroom for us. And he was! The bathroom has been painted, the tub has been tiled, the ceiling has been installed, and now the electrical work has been updated (hopefully). We are moving right along.

P.S. - In case you were worried about the harried state of this year's Thanksgiving, fear not. I have a plan. The menu and shopping list have been made. All that remains is the actual shopping and cooking. No problem.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Turkey Day approaches

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I get to cook a bunch of yummy food, visit with my family, eat as much of the yummy food as I want, and then eat it again for leftovers later. What's not to love?

I really enjoy the planning. Although I'm usually a last-minute kind of girl, I'm all about planning the Thanksgiving menu. I typically spend several weeks combing the internet and my vintage cookbooks for the perfect recipes. Then I make an exhaustive grocery list and spend a pleasant couple of hours buying everything. I like the week of Thanksgiving to be all about shopping and cooking.

Well, not this year.

G and I are on track to finish our bathroom in record time. This weekend we finished getting the walls up, and we started tiling the walls around the bathroom. We put a coat of paint on the walls before work this morning. Tonight we will get our final coat of paint up, finish tiling, and put the ceiling up. Tuesday the electrician will come attach all the lights, outlets, and switches. Then we will put in a new toilet and vanity.

So planning? shopping? cooking? Not the priority this year. That's okay. The good news is that we will have a new bathroom!!!

Note to family that will be joining us for Thanksgiving . . . I'm really excited about having you all over, and even though I don't know what we will be eating yet, I do know that it will be yummy.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Science fair, part II

One of my Girl Scouts said "hippomopatus" last night. I was amused.

These jewels come from the middle school science fair I judged on Wednesday . . .
  • One student studied his urine. He drank 84 oz. of a different liquid on four different days - milk, water, Gatorade, and Coke. He measured the volume of urine he produced and recorded the color of the urine. This whole experiment kind of freaked me out, and I was hesitant to touch the notebook that accompanied the project. The thing that saved this project in my mind was the fact that this kid had a great sense of humor (albeit a little corny). At the end of his introduction, he wrote, "Ur-ine for some surprising information."
  • I learned that popcorn was first discovered in the Bat Cave. Now, I immediately thought of the Bat Cave as in Bruce Wayne, Batman, Alfred, etc. I was doubtful. Turns out, she was correct, but it's the Bat Cave in New Mexico, not Gotham.
  • Many of the projects were written in a friendly casual tone instead of the traditional straight-laced scientific style. One of my favorites included the following: "Yes, at first it was hard, but then it got easier by the end of it . . . But I would love for all of you to enjoy."
Thus concludes my commentary on middle school science fair projects. I'm signed up to judge another fair in a couple of weeks, so there may be more to come.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Matrix

Several weeks ago, a colleague asked me if I would be willing to judge a local middle school science fair (yesterday I said that it was an honor to be chosen as a judge, but it's really not - they'll take anyone). I said yes and put it on my calendar for the 16th.

So as I'm getting in the shower yesterday morning (a little late since G and I had been up late the night before working on the bathroom), I remember that I'm supposed to judge that science fair on Wednesday. So that's tomorrow since today's Tuesday. Or is it Wednesday? I'm not sure. Tuesday, I think. No, Wednesday. Yes, it's definitely Wednesday. And I'm definitely going to be late.

There were four judges. Two of us would judge the biology category, and two would judge the physical science category. So they split the projects in half and we judged away. No problem. Then I remembered why I hadn't judged this particular fair in recent years . . . The Matrix.

You would think that judging a middle school science fair would be relatively simple - you look at the projects, narrow the field to the best ones, and maybe have a powwow with the other judges to pick a winner.

Not at this school. No, sir. Each judge must give each project a numerical score and then rank the projects based on those scores. Then these rankings must be converted into a numerical score again as they are entered into The Matrix. The Matrix allows the scores to be added, which results in the total score for each project. This can then be converted into project rankings.

Complicated? Yes. Unbelievably and unnecessarily so.

Long (as in it took over three hours to judge 32 projects) story short, all the judges ended up having to judge all the projects instead of only half. And then we had to do The Matrix not once, twice, or even three times, but four times. Trust me when I say this was not a streamlined process any of those times.

So I think it is entirely possible that the reason I almost forgot to go to the science fair is because my subconscious remembered The Matrix, even though I had tried to block it out.

(Stay tuned for quotes tomorrow.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Science fair, part I

I mentioned last week that G and I had judged a sixth grade science fair. We were chosen because G's former boss's wife (the wife of his former boss, not his boss's former wife) is a teacher and was looking for judges. And yes, "chosen" is the correct word - it's a very prestigious honor.

Science fair projects were mandatory for all sixth graders at this school, which means that some of them appeared to have been thrown together the morning they were due. Literally. There were a couple that didn't appear to have been written in English.

Since G and I were so entertained by the projects we judged, I thought you might be, too. Here is a sampling:
  • One student's project consisted of holding a dog treat in each hand and seeing which hand her dog went to first.
  • Another project involved magnets and cars (this one was almost indecipherable), and the conclusion drawn was "For cars on land, use magnet to steel bar, but for cars in air, use magnet to magnet."
  • In a project that consisted of watering plants with orange juice, coke, or coffee (I can't remember which worked the best, but all the plants were looking rough by the end of the experiment), the student included a real-world application: This is good for the Earth because people can use orange juice, coke, or coffee instead of water.
These kids are just so darn cute. Our favorite projects were the ones with pictures of the students on the displays. We wanted to give them extra points just for that. Luckily the winner (whose dad is an engineer and who did an excellent project on the effectiveness of different types of insulation) included a picture of himself at a tire recycling place (recycled rubber was one of the insulations he tested). He was standing atop a pile of old tires, flexing a bicep in the classic "king of the hill" pose. Keep in mind that he's a sixth grader - a scrawny eleven year old. Just precious.

I judged a middle school science fair this morning, so stay tuned for more good stuff.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

You're welcome

I heard a story on the Marketplace Morning Report* this morning about the great sales figures that Home Depot and Lowe's posted for the third quarter. Here's what Forbes has to say about Home Depot:

The Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home improvement store chain, reported a nearly 17 percent jump in third-quarter earnings on strong sales, beating Wall Street expectations. The company boosted its earnings per share growth guidance for the year.

This is good news, and it signals a strengthening economy. Now, I wouldn't claim that G and I are the sole reason for these earnings, but I think we're contributing. The clerks at Home Depot have stopped checking our credit card signatures because they recognize us.

Speaking of home improvement, G and I installed our new bathtub over the weekend. We redid the plumbing and then put the tub in (and out and in and out, etc.). We will start putting the walls up tonight.

*If you know me, then you might wonder why I listen to things like Marketplace. One reason is because I'm addicted to NPR and will listen to just about anything they put on, and another reason is that I have a crush on one of the Marketplace personalities, Kai Ryssdal. His voice is just dreamy. It's okay, G knows.

Monday, November 14, 2005


I am in the middle of teaching a GMAT class (that's the admission test for business school). This is an intense class - 3 hours long once a week for 7 weeks (8 weeks this time because we don't have class Thanksgiving weekend). I cover a lot of information each class, and there is a lot of homework for the students to do between classes. The good news for the students is that there are only 3 of them in this class, so the student:teacher ratio is good.

I gave them a midterm evaluation to fill out last night, and I guess that got them thinking about what could make the class better. That's good. I welcome constructive criticism (actually, I don't welcome it, but I do tolerate it).

So after they filled out the evaluation forms and put them in an envelope so I wouldn't look at them (I'm totally going to read them before I send them to the office, but that's okay because I did warn the students I would be reading them), one of my students told me what would be beneficial for him. He says it's hard for him to focus on the homework in the week between classes, and he tends to procrastinate. So he thinks it would be helpful if I could get together with him on Wednesdays to make sure he's keeping up with everything.

This sounded unnecessary to me, so I clarified his plan. He doesn't want me to break the class material up into two classes, he just wants me to meet with him in the middle of the week so that he will have incentive to get his homework done.

Now it sounded really unnecessary. Keep in mind that these are college graduates who have been out in the real world working for several years (this particular student manages a title company), and they are applying to graduate business school. I shouldn't need to check up on them mid-week to make sure they're doing their homework.

It seems like there's one difficult student in every class. And this guy is the one.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Countertop update

We have countertops!!!

Two guys came yesterday afternoon to install our brand spanking shiny new granite countertops! The kitchen looks great! I think the removal of various pieces of wood serving as the temporary countertop might have helped.

This is a photo from the granite company's website. It's not a perfect representation, but you'll get the idea.

Have a great Veteran's Day weekend! I have to go hang out with our new countertop!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Just confirming your appointment

G and I left work early yesterday to judge sixth grade science fair projects at a friend's school. More about that entertaining experience later.

When I got to work this morning there was a note on my computer letting me know there was a message on the machine for me. It was the granite countertop company confirming that they would be installing the countertops tomorrow. Which means today!!!

"Confirming" implies that we had spoken about it previously. But we hadn't. I had no idea.

So I called to find out what time they are supposed to be there, and I've left messages for two different people, which haven't been returned. I don't feel like I can leave the phone to actually get any work done (which is why I'm posting). This is very frustrating.

The good news is that I'm sure I will forget all about this little snag as soon the countertops are in. No more microwaving in the living room. No more smoke detector indicating when the toast is done (the toaster is on top of the TV cabinet, which happens to be directly below the smoke detector). No more reaching down through the top of the drawers to get the silverware (okay, I will miss that probably).

Yippee!!! I just wish they'd call already.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The one hit wonder

When our kitchen was out of commission, G and I got in the habit of eating at a particular restaurant downtown. It's a cute little pizza place where you can eat outside. It's also about a block from the hangout of a particular street performer.

This street performer plays a recorder-type instrument. The first night we heard him, he was playing a nice little tune, and we were impressed that he could make such nice music on an instrument that we had both learned to play back in elementary school. Needless to say, he was more talented than we had been.

The next time we went to our little pizza place, we heard him playing again. The same song. Hmmmm . . . maybe that's his favorite?

No, it's the only one he knows. We have since heard him multiple times, and he's always playing the same thing.

I recently heard a story somewhere about street performers who don't really know how to play their instruments but just learn to play one thing. They figure that people will just be passing by, so they won't need a large repertoire. That seems unlikely, right? Well this guy is the proof. (I wish I could remember where I heard the story. I think I was with G when I heard it, and I almost remember laughing with him about it. He denies it.)

So we were downtown last night and our guy was there. But he seemed to be playing a different song. We excitedly listened as we passed by. A new song, how wonderful . . . Wait, I think he's falling back into the old pattern . . . Yeah, that's the same song.

I wonder if he gets good tips.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I'm no Jane Fonda

We are so lucky to own the cottage behind our house. The demolition of the single bathroom in our house would have been quite an issue if we didn't have the cottage to use.

We had considered moving into the cottage until our bathroom is finished, but it turns out that we're lazy, and it seemed like a whole lot of trouble to move all our stuff to the cottage and then move it back to the house in a few weeks.

So we eat, sleep, hang out, and remodel in our house, and we use the bathroom and shower in the cottage. And we still brush our teeth in the
house kitchen.

You might think that sounds complicated enough, but we took it one step further. Now every time either of us goes to the cottage, we have to do pull-ups. I do two, G does four (this is up from one and three, respectively, earlier this week).

This may sound crazy (we've been accused of being weird), but I think we've got something here. It's tough to get to the gym (especially since we don't have memberships), and it's hard to find time to work out as much as we know we should. So this takes the guesswork out of it. When will I do those pull-ups? Everytime I visit the cottage.

So if you're having a hard time fitting in those crunches, squats, lunges, etc., just pick an activity to pair them with, and voila! You'll have constantly sore muscles, too!

(I couldn't figure out why my shoulders were tight this afternoon. Duh!)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Happy Birthday to Mom!

Saturday was my mom's birthday! Wish her well if you talk to her!

So in recognition of Mom's birthday, G and I demolished our bathroom this weekend. We pulled out the toilet and bathtub (G had previously torn out the sink) and then tore down the walls and peeled up the linoleum from the floor.

The bathtub was harder than we expected. We kept thinking it was ready, but nothing would happen when we pulled on it. G had to go under the house multiple times to investigate the situation. Once we had the plumbing figured out, we had to take down part of the door trim so we could slide it out.

Part of the difficulty in all our home projects so far has been that we've never done any of this before. Our trusty Home Depot book teaches us how to do it.
Unfortunately, it's a little weak in the "removing a bathtub" section. What took us at least an hour was described something like, "Remove faucet and drain. Slide tub out." You can see why we were surprised when it was difficult.

Removing the linoleum was also hard. We spent a lot of backbreaking time scraping up the paper backing and glue. We think it might be worth it, though. The floor appears to be in good shape, so I think we are going to be able to have it refinished when we do the rest of the house.

Our goal is to have the bathroom back in working order before Thanksgiving. We're on track so far, but we've got a lot of work to do!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Let the demolition begin

G and I have an exciting weekend planned - tearing apart the bathroom! G took the sink out about a month ago, but that's where our ambition ran out. It's been a little inconvenient without the sink, but we're doing okay brushing our teeth in the kitchen.

Our goal is to have the bathroom put back together before Thanksgiving. So we'd better get moving. I'll keep you posted.

If you didn't view the "how to fold a shirt" video that I mentioned in yesterday's post, you're really missing out. It sounds kind of stupid, I know, but I guarantee you will be amazed. I will link it again for your convenience. Just click here.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

How to fold a shirt

I came across this video on how to fold a shirt today. I'm a good shirt folder, but nothing like this. It's like magic. I need a shirt here so I can give it a try. Needless to say, the video got me thinking about laundry.

G and I are not great laundry-doers. This of course, comes as a surprise to those of you who heard about why E decided G was great for the first time. (While house sitting for E, G did laundry and not only folded the stuff that was left in the dryer, but also emptied the lint trap.)

Our washer and dryer are hand-me-downs - a friend of a friend kind of thing. All we had to do was pick them up. We had been warned not to put too much stuff in the dryer at once because it has a tendancy to eat shirt collars, leaving a black residue. We weren't concerned - after all, they were free.

So, yes, our dryer eats clothes if we load it too full.
We're not sure how it eats them, but eat them it does. Mostly shirt collars, but sometimes just right in the middle of a garment with no rhyme or reason. I'm sure this could be fixed by a trusty Maytag man, but it hasn't been a priority.

Due to the overloading problem, our laundry protocol is to dry only half a load of laundry at a time. Herein lies part of the laundry problem. Not only do you have to remember to transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, you have to remember twice. So sometimes laundry gets forgotten in the washer. Since our laundry room is not air conditioned this often results in stinky wet clothes that need to be washed again.

The second part of our laundry problem is a lack of prompt folding. And I think it all comes down to priority. If I didn't have anything else going on, I don't think I would mind folding laundry. But I'm a busy girl, so I just put it off and pile it up. G is actually better at this part than I am - he is kind of obsessive about folding/hanging his stuff immediately after it is finished drying.

That brings me to an odd thing about G and I. We've been married for five years and have successfully merged our homes, finances, and lives. Except for one thing - we keep our dirty laundry separate, and we launder it separately. I do mine, and he does his. We do mingle our stuff sometimes, but it's usually just if I have extra room in my load of whites or something. Odd, huh?

So I'm going to go home and try the fancy shirt folding technique. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The fuzz

I'm not a huge fan of peaches. I'm not sure there's any fruit I could say I don't like, but peaches just aren't my favorite. Maybe it's the fuzz.

I am a fan of canned peaches. Although I don't eat them very often these days, they were a staple for me back in college. Living in a dorm brings out odd eating habits, I think. Some people ate frozen dinners or ordered pizza a lot. I ate canned peaches. Right out of the can.

Our cupboard is a little bare right now, and we are particularly low on fresh fruits and veggies (they always seem to go first). So when I packed my lunch this morning, I dug into our hurricane stash of canned foods and ended up with fruit cocktail. The first bite I had was a peach, and it reminded me how much I like canned peaches.

I don't associate fresh peaches with canned peaches at all. They are two separate foods to me. Maybe it's the fuzz.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The good witch

Traditionally, G and I each carve a pumpkin for Halloween. This year, he lobbied hard to forgo the tradition since our schedule is extra full right now. But I lobbied right back, and we compromised on a single pumpkin. So last night I attempted a speed carving of the pumpkin. I did pretty well. I wish we had timed it, because from the time the knife hit the pumpkin to the time the candle was lit couldn't have been more than 15 minutes. That includes "gutting," designing, and cutting. I was impressed, and I think G and his parents were too (they were my audience). I wish I had a picture, but G took the camera with him today. I'll post it later.

So once the jack-o-lantern was lit, we expected the flood of costumed kids to appear. Alas, no flood. Only four children came trick-or-treating. The first trick-or-treaters came as a group of three, all about six years old. These were our first, so I inspected their costumes carefully, trying hard not to be a stupid adult (see yesterday's post).

"So you're a witch."
"A good witch."
"Oh, okay, a good witch."
"And you're a fairy."
head nod
"And what are you?" This was directed at the boy of the group, who was dressed in a black suit with a dragon printed on it and a black mask with kind of a neon green skeleton-y skull on it. I really had no idea.
"A dragon ninja."

Why didn't I get that one? So obvious.

Now keep in mind that these poor children had to dodge the construction debris that litters our front porch. We have a veritable lumber yard on our porch because we can't throw perfectly good wood away until we're sure we don't need it and because that's where it won't get wet.

So as the good witch was walking away from the door, past the pile of lumber with tetanus-laden nails sticking out, she said, "I think they might be doing a little work on the house."

Yep, just a little.