Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Of Animals And Arizona And Abby (The Second)--And All Better Now!

Pardon me, but it's time to shake out a little Cerebral Residue. I've simply got to get rid of these little clutterbits and oddments that have been taking up the more...Intellectual Residences of my brain.

}*{ When I was watching the Preakness, a couple of thoughts occurred to me, and--obviously--I haven't been able to get rid of them. Firstly, why are the horses that escort the racehorses (I have no idea what the proper term for these Buddy Horses is) so much better-looking than the actual entrants? I mean, these are some gorgeous animals. They are vastly more interesting, for one thing: they are spotty or lovely grey or just much prettier. I prefer horses that come in different colors, not just brown or black. I always root for any grey horse, even if it looks like a brokendown old nag with its tongue tied off to the side or something. Secondly, what is up with Maryland's badass State Song? Holy crap, have you ever listened to that song's lyrics? Let me tell you, that is one Thug Anthem song. Talkin' 'bout "Avenge the patriotic gore" and "Remember Howard's warlike thrust" and even "She spurns the Northern scum!" Hey! That Maryland talks a helluva lot of trash! I used to want to retire to southern Maryland, but once I got deep into that State Song, believe you me, this is one Northern Scum that got totally spurned. Mission accomplished, Maryland!

}*{Speaking of relocating, I used to have Arizona on that list, too. Oh well--another one bites the dust! Hey, Arizona! You are just Ohio with better weather. I already live in the State Of Intolerance (aka OHIO)! We said no to gay marriage a long time ago, and now one of our downstate statesmen wants to adopt your model for an immigration law. "Get over yourself, Nance," Rick said. "There is no place that fits every requirement you have. Besides, Arizona is redder than Ohio. What were you thinking?" I don't know. Help!

}*{In today's Plain Dealer the second letter to Dear Abby was...startling. I read it aloud to Sam this morning. He laughed and said, "Better ask Dad if he wrote it." For the record, allow me to state the following: 1. My children are done with college; 2. Rick and I adopted the kittens together; 3. I have only photographed them a couple of times; 4. Rick and I have a lot of feline-free time together and not much of it is spent talking about the kittens. (Both of whom, however, are still pretty cute.)

}*{Finally, two more animal-related notes: one about bunnies and another about cows. Longtime readers of the Dept. (and even the now-defunct Stuff On Our List) will recall how I often bemoaned the fact that Bunnies Are Sadly Under-utilized In Advertising. I have noticed now that there are two commercials on television that use bunnies! Upsettingly, one includes a snake, but hey! We cannot have everything. My second Animal Newsnote deserves a little paragraph all its own.

}*{This exciting Cow Mention was brought to me by my Google News Cow Alert. There is a baseball team called the Delaware Cows! Here is their logo. Also known as the Battlin' Bovines, the Delaware Cows have, naturally, a website where you can get all kinds of gear bearing this baseball bossy. As you know, I am not On Board with animals wearing clothing, but the simple fact that there is a baseball team known as the Cows is good publicity for the herds, who have been taking the heat for global warming--wrongly, some environmentalists and scientists now claim.

I feel like we've been able to cover a lot of topics with this one, Readers. And I feel so very...refreshed! It's been lovely. Do shake out a bit yourself in Comments, should you feel so compelled.

Monday, June 28, 2010

teaparty Prodigy Of The Week: WTF?!?

Even if this sign were continued on the back, it still wouldn't make any sense. Even if the word "descent" was supposed to be "decent", it still defies comprehension using any stretch of the English syntax. Let's even add the proper comma after the admonition "Remember" for him, shall we? Remember, descent (is) the highest form of patriotic...WHAT? "Patriotic" is an adjective. It has to modify a NOUN.

Descent from what? Descent itself? I just don't get it.

Come on, teaparty sign makers! Let's at least TRY!

photo found here

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dept.'s Inferno: How I Survived A Circle Of Hell, And There Weren't Even republicans There!

Disaster averted at the Dept. yesterday.

NEO--for those of you who don't remember, that's the ubercool way to refer to NorthEast Ohio--is having a HeatWave currently, and even though I don't mind temperatures in the upper registers, I loathe our tropical humidity. I have no idea why we get such drippy humidity here in this state, but we do. And it's like walking through a tub of baby's bathwater. Urgh.

So. Naturally, on Monday morning our central air decided to perform its Swan Song. I heard a horrid metallic screaming sound as I stood at the kitchen sink preparing to load my coffee cup. Horrified, I turned to Sam. "Do you hear that?" I said. "Please tell me that is not coming from the air conditioner." I opened the window closest to the unit, and it confirmed my worst fear. "Oh no! It Is!" I said in doomed tones to Sam, who sat placidly on the couch. Wild-eyed, I repeated myself to him in a panicked wail, adding, "Do you realize how HUMID it's going to be the next few days?"

Sam looked up from his Blackberry. "Yep. It's gonna be brutal," he said unhelpfully. "Wow."

I flung on some shoes (which did not match my outfit, sadly) and ran out to the AC unit. Helplessly, I stood by while it screamed. I started banging on it with my fist then stopped, horrified. What if it simply...QUIT?!

As I turned to go back into the house, the machine suddenly quieted. The fan still spinning, it seemed to be back to normal. I exhaled audibly and reported the good news to Sam, who was moved not at all. "I have to get ready to go to work," he said. "Good luck with all of that."

Good luck? What is that? By the time Rick got home from work, I noticed that the indoor thermometer had been climbing, but the AC had not stopped running. The temperature in the house was at 80 degrees. I put my hand in front of one of the registers and felt the air coming out: not very cool.

And then Rick tried to prepare me for the worst: "That AC is 20 years old, Nance. We had to jerry-rig it last year to keep it running, and it needs to be replaced. This may be it. We may have to shut it down." He went outside to look at the unit.

Sadly, those words were prophetic. When he came inside, he flipped the switch and then tried to break it to me gently. "Holy shit! You should have smelled that thing! The motor has burned up. It's fried! IT'S OVER! THIS IS IT! We have to open up and put on some fans and I'll see what I can do tomorrow."

--Readers, I was so brave. I really was. It is part of my New Philosophy, which is "Try to be brave and, failing that, swear less." Or something like that. It's very Zen.

Okay. Anyway, I spent an entire day of Beastly Humidity without air. The kittens were even lethargic. We stayed under the ceiling fans, drank lots of water, and read. (Well, I read; Piper and Marlowe napped, mostly.) Last night, Rick brought home a Temporary Fix--a replacement motor, and he tried to Lower My Expectation. "I have this motor they said might work. But it might not, because if the (insert name of techy AC part I forgot here) is fried, then forget it. But we can try it." He went outside with some tools and a shaky sense of optimism to see what he could do.

VICTORY! Temporary motor is in, working, and my house became cool again. It took quite some time, however; it was 84 degrees inside. As soon as the AC kicked on, Piper scampered to the register, felt the cool air, and capered around the dining room. The lower the temperature dropped, the more playful the kittens became.

Obviously, they have a Different Philosophy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

In Which I Debate The Merits Of Being A Domestic Goddess

When Rick and I first married, we used to ruefully call our time spent doing any household cleaning "Marital Blissing." Our little one-bedroom apartment didn't have a dishwasher, and as much as I hate to admit it, we'd often go far too long before we finally did the dishes by hand. As a result, we'd stand for more than an hour at the double sink, one of us washing and the other drying and putting away. It was awful.

I still loathe housework. Sometimes I do get "in the mood," but not that often, and I go on a major tear, like I did yesterday. The weather was yucky and humid, so in the hormonal grip of a Cleaning Frenzy, I took advantage of the airconditioned environs of my house and got busy. The kittens did not appreciate it much since it involved more vacuuming than they have heretofore been used to in their now two-week residency, but they did like the dusting aspect.

("Dusting!? You were dusting? Call the doctor immediately!" longtime Dept. readers interject here, knowing my antipathy toward that activity, and that I do it as infrequently as possible, trying only for Christmastime and, perhaps, the odd Easter here and there.)

Back to vacuuming. I have a Problem With Vacuuming, and here it is: once I have begun to vacuum, I have trouble stopping. Is anyone else afflicted with this proclivity? It's just that it's such a bigass thing to haul out and fling around, I feel as if I may as well just vacuum the hell out of every single floor I own. And then I have to worry whatever little crudhunk is somehow able to elude my Dyson. "Why isn't that thingy getting sucked up?" I wonder aloud. So, I do what everyone does: I pick it up, look at it, THEN I FLICK IT BACK UPON THE FLOOR AND RUN IT OVER AGAIN WITH THE VACUUM! Honestly, it's a Sickness.

Oh, and dusting. I am a fan of the Pledge. Especially now when I have discovered that you can use it on leather. We have a nice set of leather furniture, and I spray the Pledge on the rag and wipe it on the leather furniture and voila! Lovely. It also provides satisfying entertainment when the kittens, who are unaware that the furniture has been Pledged, leap onto the ottoman and go sliding off of it. Do not, however, mistakenly assume that this means I will be dusting more in future. Oh, ha ha. It is to laugh.

Many years ago, I was suckered in by the Stainless Steel Appliance Craze. In other words, I was An Idiot. I hate my stove and refrigerator, both stainless steel. That brushed chrome-esque finish is a Royal Pain In My Ass. Those appliances are not for people who really cook and use their kitchens For Real. And you can't clean them with Just Anything. I have used approximately eleventy billion bottles of Windex on both of them, which I have found to be the Only Thing That Really Works and doesn't cost a fortune and isn't Worky To Use. Plus--no magnets. I know that some people really like the uncluttered look of a bare fridge door, but I like to use mine for notes and reminders and a calendar. I have a very small kitchen, and the fridge is still the Number One Place Where Everyone Is Sure To See Something. Magnets, remember Science Wizards, do not stick to stainless.

AND! If you are ever looking at a black cooktop--DO. NOT. BUY. IT. It is also not for anyone who Really Cooks. One would think, "Hey! Black will hide everything!" One would be Dead Wrong. Instead, it shows everything. My cooktop has made my Cooking Life miserable. And the minute I have cleaned it, it seems that the next meal I cook involves mashed potatoes or something else which spatters or boils over and the unrelenting sorrow begins anew.

Must we even discuss cleaning bathrooms? Let me just say this: I have covered this topic here, and little has changed. Sometimes I wish it were possible just to drag the garden hose in through the window, turn that sucker on, blast the place, and let it all...drain out...somehow. Wouldn't that be great?

Housecleaning, like grocery shopping, has very little Return On Investment. It Never Stays Done! Oh sure, when the house is first all clean, you can bask in the glory of a Clean House and that Feeling Of Accomplishment. Then someone takes a shower and someone else has a snack in the living room and someone else craps up the place. Sigh. What we need is the Perfect Solution. Like this:

Friday, June 11, 2010

teaparty Prodigy Of The Week: "Mommy, Something Still Doesn't Look Right."

Absolutely everything in me wants so very much to believe that the little girl made her own sign, but you and I both know that she didn't. She's just a pawn in her teapartying mother's campaign here. It's also obvious that, after the "Stop" sign was originally completed, Mom stood back and realized that the R was missing. In her haste to get Rallied Up, she quickly worked to remedy her mistake. Oh well.

Also mystifying is the "Get" sign's use of the noun handout and the ellipsis punctuation mark. Is it, in fact, sarcastic in nature (i.e. the teaparty's belief that President Obama is merely giving everybody a handout, so, hey, "get your handout...ah, ah, ah...I meant of my pocket, buster!" ); therefore, it is a vastly clever play on words? I am skeptical of this, naturally, because I highly doubt that the Average Teaparty Member has this level of smarts and/or capacity for humor. Instead, I prefer to think that this woman--who could not spell "working", remember--merely stuck the two words together and added the dotdotdot for her own emphasis or misguided Punctuation Rule/Reason.

No matter. The "Stop" sign alone is priceless. Can't help feel sorry for the little girl, though.

Attribution: here.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Dept. Adds Staff And A Further Appreciation For Irony

Meet Marlowe and Piper. They joined the Dept. on May 29th when we got them from the local APL. Yeah, yeah...I remember this post from last year. I also know that almost every single post that has a "cats" tag also has a "complaining" tag. But look:

They are brother and sister--littermates--yet they couldn't be more opposite. Piper, the orange striped one, is tiny, more timid, and very loving and cuddly. His sister Marlowe, the grey tortoiseshell, is bouncy and bold and fearless. When I got them, Piper weighed 1.7 pounds; Marlowe, 2.4. Let's just say that both of them are probably considerably more than that now. Piper ended up needing some pretty serious medical care, but thankfully everything turned out just fine.

I told my mother, who just turned 80, that I had adopted two new kittens. Keep in mind, please, that I turned 51 a month ago, and that my mother is fully aware of this fact.

Me: They're so cute, Mom.
Mom: (unsure) But two, Nance.
Me: I know. But you should see them. They're so little and adorable.
Mom: (in wise, advisory mother tone) Now you know, Nance, they won't stay little forever. They're going to get big. They'll grow up, you know.


Anyway, before they do grow up, I'm really enjoying this Kitten Time. When they do grow up, as my mother assures me they will, I probably won't get as much of this:

(that's my pajama leg there)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

School's Out For Summer! (But Before We Leave, A Little Glimpse Into My World, And William Shakespeare's)

I'm postponing the Prodigy of the Week in order to bring you this worthy delight.

About a month ago a student research essay was left on the common printer in the lounge I frequent at The Rock. It was apparent that one of my colleagues who teaches a freshman repeater class had allowed the student writer to either type it on the computer in her classroom or send it as an attachment to her via email. In any case, she printed it a couple of times, I guess, because this one was left on the printer for a couple of days before I finally laid claim to it. I have no idea if it is a final draft or a first draft, but it is definitely student writing. Trust me, it brought untold joy to the English department for days and days. Now, I'm ready to share its bounty, just as it is, completely unedited:

Back in the day fashion was simple all they wore was dresses, and fencing acted as a sport and dance was very common in Elizabethan era. The three most common things in shakespearion era was fashion, fencing, and dancing.

Was Elizabethan dance common. Yes, Elizabethan dance was common. Elizabethan dance was highly sophisticated and stated with intricate steps and nuances. I don't think I could do that dance. What is a nuance? Many of the court dances were performed as couples. What if you didn't like your partner? How many different partners did you have? That is about how common dance was in the shakespear era.

Was fashion much different then it is today? Yes fashion was. I would of never wore that stuff. I'm glad fashion has changed. And there clothes had a lot of patterns on them. I think there clothes were ugly. At least there fashion was simple. That's how fashion was back in the day.

Was a real way of fighting? Yes, it was they have used it for centuries. Fencing is one of the first forms or sword fighting. Back in the day it wasn't just a art form, it was also the most protection you can get. There is a whole bunch of weapons to use while fencing. They figured wearying a cage on there face would be enough protection. They also used the cage so they don't see each others faces. It is hard to get use to seeing threw the cage. Fencing was a real way of fighting and still is, thanks to back in the day in shakespear and era.

These are three important topics to the Elizabethan era. The Elizabethan era was long ago but we still learn about it today. We still do celebrate parties that closely resembles an Elizabethan partie.

There is, of course, an attached page of "Work Cited" that contains the obligatory Wikipedia reference along with another website.

I suppose you could look at it and be dismayed and horrified, but I consider the source: Freshman Repeater. And because I don't know if this is a first draft or a final, I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Finally, just reading it is hilarious. I love its conversational tone, rhetorical questions, and use of "back in the day."

And now that I'm on Summer Vacation, hell, everything is funnier.
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