NunaWhat?

Scene: I get home from work, systematically dispossess myself of my wretched work clothes and hook up my computer at my desk. The child, who systematically ignores my existence other than the dead look she musters to throw at me when I walk through the door, is informing her friend that she will call her back.

Bay: Mom, I have another one of those geography map test things tomorrow, so I’m going to go in my room and study.

My interpretation: Mom, I’m going to my room to burn up about a thousand talk minutes and another 200 texts before I spend the requisite 4 minutes looking over this map and hoping for the best tomorrow.

Me: OK.

Bay: It’s Canada this time. I NEED to do well.

Me: Canada is easy. 7 provinces and 2 territories with only a handful of cities that are of any real consequence.

Bay: Easy, huh? Show me the provinces.

I start in the west and name them off as I head east. Because I am a geography rock star.

Bay: Now the territories.

Me: There is Yukon Territory and there is … what the hell? What’s the deal with the Northwest Territory? Why is it divided like that?

Bay: Because it’s the Northwest Territory and the Nunavut Territory.

Me: The What-a-vut territory??

Bay: Nunavut.

Me: Well, when did THAT happen??

I knew Europe had totally jacked itself up since my last geography class in 1984 and I made a small attempt in the mid-90’s to re-learn it but quickly lost interest. I figured I’d keep Europe on a need-to-know basis and as of this writing, I’ve not needed to know.

Canada, though…that one threw me for a loop. Apparently, this new territory showed up almost a decade ago. Did you all know this? I sure as hell didn’t. I do not recall seeing anything about the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act on cnn.com. Or msn.com. Or any other web-page I frequent.

I have an odd relationship with Canada. I’ve been there, which tends to give one some sort of identity with a place…you know, having been there. I’ve also dealt with a large number of Canadians, having lived in such close proximity to the border. This doesn’t mean I like Canada, though. I don’t. I have no real affection for Canada other than feeling a need to root for them in some international competition once the United States has been removed from the mix (usually at the hands of Finland or some other Icelandic nation).

Despite my feelings on Canada, I find it offensive that I wasn’t notified about this geographic alteration. Then again, perhaps no one outside of those actively taking geography classes have been informed of this.

I imagine this is because Robin Williams was right when he said that Canada was like a loft apartment over a really great party. No one cares what’s going on in the loft.

Published in: on May 28, 2008 at 5:45 pm  Comments (2)  

The Violent IQ Downgrade

According to reports, my IQ is 125. This means approximately nothing to me, really. It’s just something I keep in my head, much like my ACT score. It serves no practical use in everyday life, nor is it high enough to make me a Mensa candidate. Essentially, all it really means is that I have some verifiable proof that I’m not the stupidest person roaming the planet (although at times, this would appear to be debatable).

For the sake of this particular diatribe, however, I deem my IQ score as relevant. Why? Because I am going to explain to you what has happened to my IQ score and why I no longer have one.

At age 26, I became a mother. Automatic 10 point deduction, as you have to give the child something to start out life with. Nutrients, blood supply and 10 IQ points. Similar to $100 and a bad suit for parolees leaving the pen.

So, I dropped to 115.

Throughout the next decade or so, I did a combination of waiting tables, bartending and managing restaurants. To wit: customer service. To that end, I had to deal with a LOT of people. Not all of those people were very bright, so the pull on IQ points was fierce. What saved me, however, was that I was in school during that time, so the combination of undergrad (when I showed up, which was rare) and law school served to balance out the loss/gain of points.

NB: Yes, I know that IQ is allegedly a native score, so you can’t simply ‘lose’ or ‘gain’ points. If you’re all itchy to leave a comment about how I’m totally misconstruing this whole IQ phenomenon, settle down. I’m aware of that. I’m using it for illustration only, so please just work with me here.

Assuming that the idiocy was counter-balanced with educational pursuits and academic stimulation, I remained at a constant 115 (because the kid stole 10).

Enter today.

At 6:00 this morning, I had all 115 points intact.

At the time of this writing (approximately 6-ish p.m.), it’s a wonder I can type. Or breathe on my own.

The drive to work was fraught with the usual idiocy, including the dummy in the Ford Expedition (so, how do you like paying 200 bucks each time you fill up that tank?) who couldn’t be bothered to stay in the thru lane and had to cruise over to the turn lane and then try to wedge his great big ass back into the thru lane five cars ahead. I have no idea why that pisses me off so much, but it does. If people would just stay where they’re at, things would move along a lot faster…but NOOOoooo, they have to shave that whole 1.4 seconds off of their commute time by being an asshole.

Once I got to work, things were fine. For about an hour. Then it just got ridiculous.

I won’t bore you with the specifics, but suffice it to say that nearly every single time I answered a phone call or opened an email, 5-10 IQ points would vaporize right from my brain. By 1:00, I was down to about 85 points.

I’d like to say that the IQ vaporization was a painless process and that I didn’t feel a thing, but I’d be lying. It was totally painful. As an added bonus, the loss of each point was directly proportional to the rising level of my blood pressure. I’m guessing it affected the diastolic more, but I know absolutely nothing about medicine, so that’s really just a shot in the dark (in reality, I’ve looking for a reason to use the word ‘diastolic’ all damn day).

Then the mail came. As a result of the unfathomable and jaw-droppingly stupid things I received in today’s mail, 15 more points joined hands, looked at each other gravely, put on their track suits and Nikes and simultaneously drank the Kool Aid. At the same time, I had a minor stroke, a massive coronary and probably developed a stress goiter (although, the goiter could simply have been the result of accidentally swallowing my own tongue while on the phone with someone who shouldn’t be allowed to use a phone).

I attempted to console myself by breathing in and breathing out. That ultimately turned into a one-woman Lamaze class and I had to stop doing that, as I was beginning to hyperventilate. In hindsight, I think the better option would have been to just hyperventilate myself into a short-lived fainting spell. At least I would have gotten a little nap out of the deal and perhaps just enough respite to re-gain control over things.

By 3:00, I had simply given up. I wandered around the office being useless and parking my ass in my boss’ office (which was completely stupid, given that his office lacks air conditioning). At 4:50, I felt I had put in sufficient time to call it a day.

The drive home was rather unremarkable, until I saw the latest price for gas. 3.69. God. I try not to get too agitated about things that I have no control over, but it still annoyed me for about 10 minutes.

Once I got home, the child showed me her science project. My role in this was to procure poster board, which I did on Sunday during my usual weekend economy-boosting. Apparently, my OTHER (and until-now unknown) role was to not kill her when I discovered what was now scotch-taped all over the poster board:

The guts of my hair dryer.

Yes, she took my hair dryer, unscrewed it (or, in the instance of one wily piece, broke it apart) and pulled out all of the wires, fan and random pieces of hair dryer innards. She then taped them to the poster board and labeled them.

The Guts

Here is what remains of my hair dryer:

What Remains

I don’t know what the little popsicle stick is for, and I probably don’t want to.

I think it goes without saying that my head exploded at that point.

It would behoove me to take a shot of NyQuil and call it a day and hope that tomorrow presents itself as redemption for today, but that’s just not in the cards. I have a good 3 hours or so of actual work that has to get done…so that’s what I’m going to attempt to do. With any luck, my headless body will be able to type up appropriate things in appropriate places and the finished products will not get anyone sued.

Kind of a lot to ask for a headless woman with an IQ point shortage, don’t you think?

Published in: on May 20, 2008 at 6:53 pm  Comments (2)  

Uh Oh

So, in preparation for gearing myself up for a big night of legal writing, I decided to cleanse the palate a bit between the office and resuming where I left off there here at my command center, featuring the oh-so-lovely pink Vaio (the fact that I own a pink computer will serve me well at the end).

I read through the blogs on this site as well as my other site. I checked out Facebook. I read most of the stories on CNN. I also read the Grand Forks Herald (everything you wanted to know about the farm bill and a story seeking information from anyone who happens to know about the three dumpster fires set last night (yes, that’s newsworthy in GF)). Finally, I had to check out my msn horoscope (which, since reading the horoscope telling me to let my loved ones know I do, indeed, love them because life was short and getting shorter, I’ve been a bit more reluctant to read). Before I could get to the horoscope, however, I happened upon two articles regarding the worst places to take men and women on dates.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a date, but I anticipate it will happen one of these days, so I like to be informed of any new rules…you know, so I don’t screw anything up.

Let’s start with the list of places never to take a woman. I will list these in the order in which they appear in the article.

1. Sports Bars. Uhh…are you kidding me with this?? Perhaps I am in a minority, but I happen to love sports. I also happen to love sports bars, especially when there is a great game on (read: hockey). I’m a fan of wings, beer and bar trivia. I’m also a fan of gigantic screens featuring uniformed players of (pick a sport) doing battle over a (puck, football, etc.). In the article, it states that women don’t want their cute outfits spilled on and have no interest in competing for their date’s attention. I take the opposite approach. If you, as a man, interrupt my game watching with some whiny need for attention with 30 seconds left in a game, I’m going to spill my beer all over YOUR cute outfit.

2. Theme Parks. Again, I must disagree. Who doesn’t love a theme park? Particularly a theme park with rollercoasters and churros? Apparently the writer of the article is prone to motion sickness and makes reference to churro-hoarking after a ride on the rollercoaster. Bummer that she can’t hang on the Vortex, but don’t drag the rest of your gender down with your weak constitution. If you’ve got a couple of tickets to Six Flags, I’m there!

3. Chain Restaurants. Well, this one may be a bit of a regional problem for me. Yes, now that I live in the City that Oxygen Forgot, there are a number of eateries that don’t feature “kids night” and flair; however, I grew up in a place where that was pretty much all there was. It’s never bothered me too much. I’m not particularly picky if I’m getting fed. Not being, in any sense of the word, a foodie, I’m more inclined to like a place where I can pronounce (and identify!) the food I’m eating. I get that this makes me sort of white trash. I’m pretty ok with that, though.

4. Gross-out Comedies. WHAT? Chicks don’t like gross-out comedies? I totally did NOT get this memo. The funnier the movie, the better and if that involves some spooge serving as hair gel, then so be it.

5. Paintball. I can’t give any sort of educated opinion on this one, but I’m inclined to think that I wouldn’t be completely opposed to chasing someone around with a gun full of paintballs and shooting at them. In fact, I am almost certain I would enjoy this immensely.

6. Meeting your Mother. This is the only one on the list that I am in COMPLETE agreement with. I don’t want to meet your mother for, like, a year…at least. Probably longer than that. I have nothing against your mother, of course, but until you know where the hell you are as a couple, bringing more family members into the mix just complicates shit and adds pressure that isn’t necessary.

So, that’s the women’s list. By all accounts, I am the anti-female. This probably explains a few things. Maybe I need to go to charm school or something so I can learn to eschew and become offended by the things that make me happy. Or, maybe not. I’ll be at the sports bar mulling this over.

OK, on to the men’s list. The following are places men allegedly do not want to go on dates. As I am not a guy (well, biologically, that is, as the above list would suggest the contrary), I have to attempt to step into the shoes of an actual guy. I’ll use a hybrid of a few guys I know and give it a shot.

1. Hiking. According to the article, men feel this activity ranks up there with reading Aristotle. The real life men I know do not appear to agree with this. In fact, most of them hike of their own accord, with no prompting from female acquaintances. Then again, I live in Colorado. There’s apparently something seriously wrong with you if you’re not down with hiking, so maybe that has something to do with it.

2. Opera. This one is probably true. I don’t know many people, of either gender, who can tolerate a lot of opera. I could probably get through an hour before wanting to kill myself, which means that my hybrid man would have offed himself about 10 minutes in. In this instance, Aristotle TOTALLY wins the “which is better” contest.

3. Travel. BZZZZZZZZZZ! The answer is…LIE! My hybrid man LOVES to travel. He likes going to Vegas for the weekend, road-tripping through 2 states for no real reason or jetting off to the Caribbean. The article cites money and missing work as the reasons men hate this activity so much. Lame argument, in my opinion. Men dig traveling. In fact, most people dig traveling.

4. Clothes Shopping. I’ll concede this, although various parts of my hybrid man don’t seem too bothered by this, but then again, if this is where you’re going on a DATE, then yes, this activity sucks. In fact, it may be the lamest date ever.

5. Relationship Workshops. This is one of those items on a list that is such a freaking “duh” item that it shouldn’t even be included. It ranks up there with, “trip to the morgue,” “pouring lemon juice in paper cuts” and “root canal” as massively un-fun things to do on a date. Granted, I’ve never actually BEEN to a relationship workshop, but I can only imagine that all they serve to do is point out everything you’re doing wrong in your relationship and you end up leaving bitter and angry, which then morphs into “action plans” and long talks about “where this is going” and “how to fix our problems,” and God, it just exhausts me to think about. I can’t blame a single man for wanting to avoid this activity like the plague.

So, there it is. What have we learned? Well, I think the biggest lesson learned is that whomever put pen to paper and came up with these ridiculous lists is even worse off in the creativity department than I am. Second to that is that I’m apparently a guy.

Except I’m not.

No, seriously. I’m not.

I have a pink computer, for God’s sake!

Oh, and I did finally make it to the horoscope:

Suddenly you have found your energy again and your engine is oiled up and ready to go, dear Scorpio. Put yourself into high gear and don’t let anything stand in your way. If disagreements with others arise, try to keep focused on the lessons that come from the situation, instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of it. Take things to a higher level and don’t be afraid to suggest radical change.

I did crank it up to high gear at least twice today, but things stood in my way. I also failed at keeping focused and not dwelling on the negative. I was dwelling on the negative like a sumbitch…sadly, all over my boss, who got a somewhat unwarranted bitch-fest thrust in his face. Note to self: apologize for that.

Maybe I can redeem myself and take this day to a higher level by getting my work done before midnight.

Published in: on May 15, 2008 at 9:54 pm  Comments (3)  

The Care and Feeding of Teenage Girls

My child is 12. I’m already pretty much done with the attitude and the unending requests for her to do things that I refuse to allow her to do (including, but not limited to, dying her hair blue, wearing makeup and text-messaging her friends 3,000 times a month*). Each day is a new challenge, as she comes up with new things that deem me more and more ‘uncool.’

Our current issues are music, clothes and her attitude (although, she does not feel any of these things are ‘issues,’ in particular, the last thing).

Each morning, I drive the princess to school and each morning I am on the receiving end of her forked little tongue informing me that whatever song is on the radio is the worst song in the world and only 90-year-olds like myself think it’s cool. This playlist is wide-ranging and cuts through every genre, from the Beatles to Barry Manilow to Green Day. It really doesn’t matter if she LIKES the song. What matters is that I STOPPED on the song before she could submit her vote.

Apparently, the previous 11 years have taught her nothing about the sanctity of Car DJ. If I own the car, I get to pick the jam, amiright? Being the immature asshole I am, I retaliate the best way I know how…singing along to the worst of the lot. If I happen to be super lucky on any given morning, I’ll find a little diddy from Culture Club or Rick Astley (she has a white hot hate for Rick Astley…which, as it turns out, MOST people do).

Clothing choices also rank fairly high. I’m quite tempted to take a picture of this child’s closet so you can see the absolute wealth of clothes this kid has. She has way more clothes than I ever did at her age…hell, she has more clothes than I do now. Between me, her grandmother and her 17-year-old cousins, she is on the receiving end of a LOT of really cute stuff. However, she chooses to wear either black track pants or black cut-off track pants and a sickly gray-brown colored hoodie. With wheel-less Heelys. All winter, I couldn’t get her out of flip-flops and now that it’s spring, she insists on wearing these clunky, ugly-ass shoes.** I’ve asked her numerous times to shake things up a bit and add some color. She’s having no part of that, so I send her to school each day looking like she’s about 3 steps away from changing her name to Pestilentia and spending weekends in the woods drawing pentagrams. You can understand my reluctance to take her shopping at Hot Topic, no matter how much she whines about it.

[sidebar: Have you ever sneezed so hard you snap your spine clean in half? Yeah, I just did that.]

I get that she’s in some sort of ‘finding herself’ thing that all girls go through around this age. I don’t have to like it, though. I’m also fully cognizant of the fact that this is the karma my mama always warned me about coming back and biting me square in my big ass. I was admittedly pretty rotten and smarmy as a teen. I’m paying for it now, fo’ sho’.

It’s only going to get worse, too. Today’s amateur goth is tomorrow’s black-leathered human tackle box. Of course, in MY house, she won’t have the ability to pierce and ink herself until she no longer resides in my house, because that’s how my conservative ass rolls. However, there will be fight after fight after fight about why I’m so unfair and so uncool and OMGWTFBBQ everyone ELSE’S mom lets them do whatever the hell they want! As I have informed her numerous times, she seriously drew the short straw getting me for a mother…if total freedom and no discipline were the goals.

My co-worker sent me this video today:

(I hope to hell that works, as I have no idea how to embed on this particular blog…if it doesn’t, no worries, I’ll keep editing it until I finally get it)

He put the caption: “Do you think your child will want to wear this to HER prom?”

I took a short respite from creating legal masterpieces (HA!) and watched the video. A couple of things struck me.

1. Does this child have a mother?
2. Has her mother seen this “dress?”
3. What was the purpose of that ass-cape?
4. Flip-flops? Really?
5. Did she buy it or is it, like, Pretty in Pink gone tragically awry?

Once I was able to move past those initial thoughts, I considered what would happen if my child tried to leave my house on prom night in that thing. I couldn’t really wrap my mind around the details, but in the end, I would win. Even if I were unable get the point across myself (because teenage girls have a pretty hearty ‘mom-filter’ that turns actual words into something akin to the Charlie Brown teacher noise), thanks to modern technology, I could simply snap a picture with my camera phone, send that off to my mother and the phone call that would follow would be one for the ages. If I were a betting gal, I would say that my child’s phone would literally burst into flames in her hand as my mother gave her a ‘what-fer’ like no other ‘what-fer’ has ever been delivered.

On the other hand, my mom may just call me, glass of merlot in hand and laugh her ever-lovin’ ass off at the fruits of the curse finally coming into full bloom.

She would, of course, be completely justified.

I was talking to another co-worker this morning about how snotty my child has gotten over the course of this school year.

“Have you seen the movie, Thirteen? she asked.
“Yes, and it scared the holy shit out of me.”
“Me too, and I’ve got a BOY.”

It’s only the beginning. I’m going to try to focus on keeping the battle scars to a minimum and the neighbors from calling the authorities when our battles reach fever pitch.***

Stay tuned. I’m sure I’ve got about six more years worth of teenage angst to bore you with.


* OK, I already sort of accidentally allowed that but didn’t realize I was allowing such a thing until I got my $750.00 phone bill. It should go without saying that we’ve now remedied that particular problem.

** I’ll admit that I’m not entirely unhappy that she eschews the wheels, as the last time she had the wheels in, she rolled herself right off the top of a flight of stairs. While tragic, it was maybe one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

*** This is a totally false statement. I rarely yell and she is the queen of the silent treatment. In fact, if there is no noise in our house, it means that someone is in some SERIOUS trouble.

Published in: on May 12, 2008 at 6:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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It’s Like A Two-Year-Old With Above-Average Intelligence

As it turns out, I AM smarter than a Fifth Grader.* Sadly, my sixth grade child is not. Allow me to demonstrate, by way of example, just how dire this situation is.

Jeff Foxworthy: Napoleon was the leader of France … blah blah blah … Was Napoleon his first name or his last name?

My child and I, in unison: FIRST NAME!

Me (to child): What was his last name?

Child: DYNAMITE!

I was hoping she was kidding, but she was not. Upon seeing the look of utter horror and disgust on my face with her educational endeavors to date, she tried to play it off like she was kidding. She wasn’t fooling me.

Child: I KNOW it’s not Dynamite…hahaha.

Me: What is it, then?

Child: *insert the sound of crickets here*

I shook my head silently and tried to figure out how many extra jobs I would have to take on in order to get her enrolled in a high-end private school and employ tutors in every subject.

Child: If you’re so smart, you tell ME his last name.

Me: Bonaparte.

Child: Nuh UNH.

I didn’t respond, because, really…why?

This is simply another example of the disconnect between my child and myself. I suppose it will work out nicely for her, as I’m quite decidedly a nerd. In my defense, I’m a cool nerd. ** At least in my own head. Then again, I’m sure all nerds think they’re cool to some degree…even the ones with cheap plastic pocket protectors fully equipped with those old school black clicker pens that say “US GOVERNMENT” in small letters on the barrel.***

She’s decidedly not a nerd. I’m not entirely sure what she is just yet, what with her unyielding desire for blue hair and trashy clothing, but I’m certain it’s not “nerd.”

In entirely different news, it’s possible that while I may be smarter than a fifth grader, I don’t have the impulse control most adults appear to possess. In fact, I don’t have the impulse control that most toddlers possess. Allow me to elaborate.

I received an email today from Famous Footwear. At some point in my existence, I must have been in some sort of Jamba Juice brain-freeze haze when shopping along the 16th Street Mall in Denver and joined some sort of rewards program at Famous Footwear when I was on my New Balance shoe buying spree.**** They now have my email address and feel compelled to shower me with e-fliers announcing sales and such. Today’s email, however, came with a foreboding warning that my $5.00 reward certificate was going to expire on Monday.

OH NOES!

What I want to know is why I’m now completely OBSESSED with needing to buy new shoes so I can get my $5.00 off price? It’s five bucks. Yet, in MY head, it means I’ll have to spend at LEAST 20 (probably more like 60) in order to reap the benefit of the 5 dollars. As it turns out, there is another pair of New Balances I think I need to own, despite the collection I’ve already amassed. One would think I would go to the gym more often. (One would be wrong)

THEN, if that wasn’t bad enough, I got a coupon from Bath & Body Works for a free little jar of something called Patricia Wexler (MD) Dermatology. It’s some sort of skin regeneration crap that will undoubtedly show absolutely no signs of any kind of regeneration on my tired, old face. The hitch, of course, is that I have to buy something.

The sad part is that despite my awareness of how ridiculous this all is, it’s a very high probability that within the next month, I will be sporting a brand new pair of New Balances on my feet and regeneration crap (that, if I were a betting gal, would wager will make me zit out like a 15-year-old on a pizza, Coke and french fry binge) on my face.

Thus, it has been established that:

1. I am smarter than a fifth grader.

2. I have no impulse control, despite my alleged 11-year-old intelligence.

3. I am a nerd with a lot of athletic shoes.

You’d think I’d get asked out more. Huh.

____________________________________________________________________________________

* This should please my employers. It’s certain that they weren’t fully confident of that assessment. I’m sure they still aren’t, despite my vast knowledge of Mayan civilization and forest biomes.

** Hey man, at least I don’t play World of Warcraft!

*** Where do those pens come from, anyway? The obvious answer is the US Government…but which branch is responsible for the production and distribution of these pens? And who is on the design board, because they are some seriously ugly-ass pens. Whatever is going on there needs to be changed. Perhaps the candidates should make the US Government pens some sort of priority in their platforms. I mean, the economy and the war and health care and education are all lovely things to spar about, but for the love of shit, if we’re giving these out in the gift baskets bestowed upon visiting heads of state, then it’s no wonder we’re the most hated nation in the world!

**** Last year, about this time, I decided that it was imperative to own several colors and styles of New Balance athletic shoes. I was just starting my weight loss endeavor and had recently diagnosed myself with plantar fasciitis, so these were allegedly the doctor-recommended shoes for people with rotten feet. Turns out, it was less “plantar fasciitis” and more “being a fatass” that made my feet hurt. In the meantime, I grew to love the NB’s, and now must own them all.

Published in: on January 24, 2008 at 8:49 pm  Comments (3)  

Cold Remedy

I have never been one for actually wishing to be sick. In fact, like most of you (minus the hypochondria set), I pretty much loathe being sick. I loathe it so much that I will go out of my way to take precautionary measures to avoid it. Some of it was probably a little counter-intuitive along the way, but it served its purpose. By that I mean that I would often actually put myself directly in the line of fire of seasonal afflictions, like coughs, colds and the flu.

Once upon a time, I used to make my living managing restaurants, with occasional bouts of waiting tables and bartending. I also attended a public university before meningitis vaccines were all the rage. Add to that a toddler who went to daycare and pre-school. If someone was going to get sick, it should have been me. It really wasn’t, though. In fact, I believe that spending all that time in close proximity of various viruses only served to make my immune system Super Industrial Ninja Strength.

With that said, I do normally get about one nasty cold per year. I haven’t had the flu in nine years, despite my best efforts. No flu shot. No Emergen-C. No nothing, really, except one mother of an immune system.*

Recently, I’ve heard of this phenomenon involving Vick’s Vap-O-Rub. Have you heard this, too? If you haven’t, allegedly, when you are sick, stuffed up and coughing up globs of alien mucous, what you should do is slather Vick’s on the bottoms of your feet, throw on a pair of socks and just lay there until you feel less miserable. From what I understand from two reliable sources, this method works wonders.

Being the cynic I am, I have been wanting to try this out for the last 4 months. Do you think I could get sick?? Hell no! I’ve gone out in the cold with wet hair, no coat and bad shoes.** I’ve stayed up late and not eaten enough. I’ve done all I can to erode my immune system enough to catch a wayward virus, short of eating used Kleenex.*** I’m healthy as can be. Therefore, I have to resort to guinea pigs. Currently, I have two people at work doing the Vick’s experiment at my behest. I shall have some feedback tomorrow.

If it turns out that it also worked on them, I will never get sick again as long as I live. If it doesn’t work, I’ll be riddled with the flu and probably a little ebola for measure by the weekend. This is how things work. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will work, not because I don’t want to get ebola (because who doesn’t love hemorrhagic fever?), but because I suggested it and I really hate looking like an ass.

I suppose if the Vick’s fails, they can always try these.****

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

* It may appear that I’m jinxing myself by stating this so boldly. In reality, that is exactly what I am doing.

** If you’ll recall my frostbite post, you’ll realize how determined I really am to get sick.

*** Even I have limits.

**** Seriously…the hell?? If someone has used THOSE, I totally need to hear about it. I also want to know exactly how much crud oozed out of your feet while you slept.

Published in: on January 2, 2008 at 9:47 pm  Comments (3)  

Rules of Winter Driving

The summer of my fifteenth year, I enrolled in driver’s education classes taught by various teachers in the Grand Forks School District who either wanted a little extra cash or had a bona fide death wish. The course was broken down into three parts: classroom, simulators and road practice.

The classroom section featured ongoing recitation of the North Dakota Department of Transportation handbook as well as the movies. Oh, God…the movies! I don’t know what movies they’re showing these days, now that our society is attempting to become a more kind and gentle place (as related to children, of which teens remain included), but back in the day, the movies were the driver’s ed equivalent of the “scared straight” programs for misguided youth.*

The film would begin rolling and suddenly, your optic nerves were assaulted with a quick-spreading red blob coursing across the frame. The title would then appear in a bold, unhappy font: “BLOOD ON THE HIGHWAY.” In an attempt to make these films relateable to their target audience (angsty teens who were sick of being driven to the roller rink by their parents), they used “situations” that we were allegedly supposed to relate to. A group of people our age load into Dad’s Buick for an evening of carousing out on the interstate (because we did that a lot…?). They immediately turn the AM radio to the best of Buddy Holly (insert symbolism here) and they are loud and boisterous. The driver, the ever-responsible “Bill” with his appropriate short haircut and cardigan sweater, informs the group that he must pay attention to the road, as driving is a great responsibility.

Party boy “Seth” proceeds to call “Bill” a square and turns up the radio and begins again his frivolity, joined by the two bee-hived girls in the backseat with their matching sweater sets. Finally, because of all this peer pressure, “Bill” decides to let it go and begins to enjoy himself, laughing and joking with his friends and bopping mindlessly along to the music wafting from the crackly speakers. Then, as “Bill” is turned around to make eye-flirty with the bee-hived minx in the backseat named “Paula,” a gigantic semi-truck comes barreling down the highway, his horns and lights blaring. “Bill” is oblivious, however, because “Paula” really is quite fetching.

“Seth” suddenly yells at “Bill” to look out!

“Paula” screams!

The next thing you know, we are panned to the sight of a Sheriff informing the parents of the terrible tragedy.

You’d think that would have chilled our 15-year-old selves to the bone. You would, however, be wrong.

The next section was the simulators. These were little pod-like fake cars that had the requisite components of an actual car. Most of the simulators had automatic transmissions, but there were two that had manual. If you were the lucky two to get the manuals, you really were in for a frustrating hour. One of the manual cars was Car #8. I was unfortunate enough to get Car #8 in our first bout with the simulators. No one in my family had a stick shift when I was growing up, so the whole thing was very daunting and confusing.

We sat in our little pod cars and fake drove down the street that was rolling on the screen in front of us.

“Car #8, you need to put the car in gear!” shouted the – by winter, soft-spoken history teacher – and by summer, drill sergeant of pod cars.

“I’M TRYING!” I would yell from my stalled out little pod.

Every time I would stall or fail to shift, I (and everyone else in the room) would be verbally assaulted with angry admonitions from drill sergeant. “CAR NUMBER EIGHT, WHAT IS YOUR MALFUNCTION??” Uhh, presumably the inability to drive a POD CAR WITH A STICK SHIFT?

Finally, we got to the actual driving. We stood anxiously in the parking lot awaiting our assignment to one of the Oldsmobile Ciaras that had been graciously lent to the school system by one of the local dealerships. I won’t bore you with the details, but my instructor (by winter, a high school counselor) had to make copious use of his “Oh shit” brake on the passenger side and a squirrel perished.

For all of the teaching they did with regard to rules of the road and how to not pick off wildlife with our automobiles, they didn’t even touch on the important stuff. What is the important stuff? Winter driving, of course. Yes, they did give us the appropriate caveats like, “turn into the swerve” and “pump your brakes” (back when this was the thing to do), but they didn’t really get into the etiquette of it all.

Therefore, allow me to proffer some etiquette rules I’ve learned over the course of my years driving on the snow and ice.

  1. Realize that unless is you live in a very homogeneous part of the country (read: Grand Forks, ND), there will be quite a few people on the road with you who are just not up to speed on the ways of ice and snow driving. It really is a skill learned over time, so it would be wise to bear that in mind when you find yourself in the same road company as the man in the Ford Taurus with Arizona license plates with his hands firmly clenched at the 10 and 2 o’ clock positions and his face smashed up against the windshield (while, I presume, simultaneously crapping his pants). Did I mention he’s going approximately 7 mph in a 45 mph zone? He’s completely freaked out by the weather conditions around him. Riding his tail and honking furiously at him isn’t going to cause an immediate proficiency in his winter driving skill. In fact, more than likely, he’s going to careen (very slowly, of course) into a light pole or something and that will just slow you down even more.
  2. If you happen to park outside and do not have the luxury of a garage and it snows, please be considerate enough to brush the whole car off, rather than a 6 inch window on your windshield from which to commandeer your vehicle through heavy rush hour traffic. This might be my biggest annoyance in the winter, those who leave 2 foot snow drifts on the roofs of their cars. Invariably, I am going to get behind one of these jackasses and despite the fact that it will be sunny and clear everywhere else in town, it will be a re-creation of the perfect storm (with snow) in my immediate area, due to the snow blowing off the roof of some idiot’s car directly in front of me. My vision will be obscured, my windshield wipers will get a substantial workout, not only from the snow coming at me from above, but also the dirty slop being kicked up by the tires in front of me. It’s just not good. Yeah, brushing snow is annoying, but it really doesn’t take that long and it REALLY makes the cars that get behind you in traffic much more grateful for your efforts.
  3. If you are of the folks who have all wheel drive and can stop on a dime, don’t presume that the rest of us will be able to follow suit. By the way, all wheel drive or four wheel drive doesn’t, despite the promises, make you invincible. It helps put you on the path to invincibility, but it doesn’t take you all the way there. Plus, as previously stated, many of us behind you are anything but invincible and when you’re the the only thing in our path when you stop abruptly on ice, you’re the only thing that’s going to get hit.
  4. This one shouldn’t even need to be stated, but sadly after last winter’s storm, it has to be. If you opt to go out on the road, despite having been warned for upwards of a week that there will be a massive snowstorm that will drop anywhere from 15-22 inches in a very short period of time, have a freaking contingency plan. First, stay home. But if you just. can’t. help. yourself…then don’t get in your 1984 Ford Escort with the bald tires and expect to complete your journey with any degree of success. When you ultimately figure out that you’re beyond screwed, it is not the wisest idea to just simply get out of the car and walk away, unless you have located the car in a place where cars are normally able to be parked. To wit: the passing lane on a 6 lane interstate is NOT a place where cars are normally parked.

With winter well upon us in many areas of the country, I think the rules are important and should be followed. But Sande, you’re thinking, who are you to claim to be the arbiter of driving etiquette? Haven’t you driven yourself into more than one ditch? Slid into more than one car? Once used your Algebra II book as a traction device behind the back tire of your Dodge Aspen and then proceeded to back into one of your classmates in the school parking lot? And, while we’re on the subject of the Dodge Aspen, weren’t YOU the one who used a diet Coke can to “scrape” your windshield with the previously scoffed at 6 inch window of unobstructed vision? Yes, this is all true, but I have learned from my experience and am now sharing that knowledge with you!

Because I care, dammit! (or perhaps, I don’t care and am just lacking anything better to write about)

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* These programs, according to my Google-fu, are still ongoing, only now they have more delicate names like, Juvenile Awareness Program. Yeah, soften THAT up. That will help.

Published in: on December 29, 2007 at 10:50 am  Comments (1)  

The Hard Plastic Christmas Trophy

The unspoken question each and every Christmas season is this:

Who will get the gift in the un-malleable hard plastic container that has no meaningful way of being opened other than implements from Black and Decker, what will it be, and how much carnage will be involved in extracting the gift from its impenetrable casing?

This year, we had two winners.

Runner Up: My nephew Tommy, who received a complex* Transformer in the evil plastic coating of doom. He tore the wrapping from his Transformer and immediately ran off to a corner to begin the arduous task of relieving the complex** toy from its containment. He was gone approximately 20 minutes. He came back with the back part removed (how the hell? seriously!), but was now attempting to go after the various twist-ties*** that restrained Optimus Prime. With his teeth. He had the Transformer on the floor and was hunched over it and trying to tear the ties from it in the same manner one would normally find a dog trying to pull a bone from the frozen Earth.

I finally assisted him in removing the ties and pulling the Transformer from his bondage.

Winner: Me! Santa Claus was benevolent this year and brought me a new battery charger with AA batteries for my camera and AAA for my mp3 player. The whole shooting match was encased in the horrible hard plastic.

Now, I will give Energizer some credit here. They DID see fit to construct this plastic casing with a small escape hatch in the form of a plastic tab that one could forcefully pull on so the plastic would tear down a perforated line. On ONE side. The other side, however, was subject to whatever mechanical forces the user was able to employ. The perforated side tore fairly easily**** but I was still unable to get the charger and batteries from the casing. I then began to tug and pull at the non-perforated side.

This is when tragedy struck, as it invariably does when dealing with such material. At first, there is sheer joy and exuberance that you’ve managed to locate a weak spot and you gleefully pull apart the plastic at the breach, hoping against all hope that you’ll be able to just go all the way through with no impediments. The problem is that there is always an impediment. Whether it’s internal or external, something is bound to halt the progress.

It’s the re-start where things to awry. I made it about halfway down the side of the casing when something occurred. I don’t know if something shiny flew in my path, a Christmas ornament reflected in my diet Coke can or what, but the next thing I knew, I was stopped short. Being on a mission as I was, I attempted to re-start. No go. I then changed my hand position in an effort to gain more leverage. The most reasonable place to create the needed leverage placed my hand in an area where the plastic had torn in such a way that the edges of the plastic were now jagged pieces of impending plastic death. I told myself to be careful. I’m not exceptionally good at listening to myself.

The forces at work here were thus: Get stupid package open THIS CENTURY vs. Don’t cut my hand off.

I ultimately prevailed against the hard plastic, but at a cost. There was blood and carnage, but happily, also Band-Aids.*****

I’m now going to try to not do anything for at least two hours to see what that’s all about. Bailey is alternating between Spyro and her obnoxiously loud keyboards (which I have yet to investigate for a headphone jack, but if there isn’t one, I’m going to have to find a new place to live). It’s been determined that I will have to cook at some point today, but I’m going to put that off as long as humanly possible.******

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* Try as I might, I couldn’t make that godforsaken robot with the unusually small green head turn into a car with a sun-roof.

** No, seriously. This thing is HARD, yo! I had it almost looking like a car, but I couldn’t figure out how to make the two front tires lay flat on the ground. How is this thing suitable for young children?? I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS!! (insert bracing reality check here: the average 6-year-old is leaps and bounds ahead of me in nearly every area of life)

*** Clearly, Transformers are being packaged by the same band of toy terrorists that package Barbies. Have you ever tried to get a Barbie released from her package in under 15 minutes? Between the metallic twist ties, the clear plastic bindings attached to the box by THREAD (seriously, they SEW her head to the BOX!) and the various other restraint devices, I’m convinced that it’s easier to locate an earring back in a field of safety pins than it is to pull a Barbie cleanly from its container before the recipient of said Barbie begins to cry in angst and frustration.

**** It tore easily because I’m very, very strong.

***** It seems that finally, 11 years later, the child has given up her habit of taking every Band-Aid in the house and repairing imaginary wounds on her various stuffed animals.

****** I think I’ll use as my gauge, the unending bloodshed caused by the plastic. Once I stop expelling red blood cells at an alarming rate from my index finger, I’ll rationalize that production has slowed due to a lack of protein and nutrients in my diet, at which time I may be arsed to weakly crawl to the kitchen and slap together a meal.

Published in: on December 25, 2007 at 1:45 am  Comments (4)