You know Nielsen? The company that’s been doing TV ratings since the invention of TV? They sent us money. In the mail. I opened the envelope out of curiosity. I would normally have just thrown it away, but we don’t even have cable – why on earth would Nielsen be contacting us? Of course, it turns out they aren’t. It’s addressed to “Providence Area Household”, which is technically us, but I feel like they don’t care about MY opinion. And unexpectedly, two crisp dollar bills were looking at me from inside that envelope. It’s an advance for the survey they’d like us to take. Return the survey and they’ll send us an additional $5 in cash! !! !!! There’s something weird about that. Who mails cash?
Oooh, maybe I should fill out the survey and get the $5 just to have cash. I hate going to the ATM. So much so that I’m not sure I’ve been to one since we moved to Providence. I don’t know where the nearest one is. I don’t have anything against carrying cash (except that it makes my wallet bulky), but getting it is a pain. Solution: put an ATM in my backyard. Then I’ll have cash, and I won’t need Nielsen and their dollar bills.
Hey, guys. I love you lots, and I’d love to catch up, but I’m at 88% on the latest Expanse novel, and I can’t put it down. If I don’t keep reading, all sorts of awful things might happen to my people in there – it’s up to me to make sure they’re safe! It’s a wonder I got through the workday.
It feels weird to blog when half of my readers are in the same house as me. If I had something interesting to say sometime over the last three days, I probably already said it to them. Seems silly to repeat myself.
Bird and Bird (see Figure A), who have been with us for three years now, have been shy about revealing their true names.
I can’t blame them – they’ve basically been itinerant their whole lives. Why trust the people who can’t be bothered to stay in one place? Now that Bird and Bird (see Figure B) have joined them, though, they’re thawing a bit, and the four of them have let us in on the secret. (Also, they gave permission for me to let YOU in.)
Meet Maria, Steve, Natasha, and Bucky, formerly Bird, Bird, Bird, and Bird.
I LOVE the books I just finished. It’s a set of two by Seanan McGuire (who I enjoy more with every book). Premise: fairy tales exist in the real world, anyone can suddenly be turned into one, and there’s a secret government agency trying to prevent these incursions because they cause trouble and kill people. Fairy tales are grim, guys.
HOW GREAT IS THAT?
The first book (Indexing) was written as a serial, which is very occasionally annoying in novel form because some things get explained (lightly, but still) in more than one chapter, but it’s easy to overlook. I don’t think the second one (Indexing: Reflections) was written that way.
I want more. More characters, more fairy tales, more ways fairy tales can mess with the world, more ways fairy tales can be twisted to fit into the modern world. MOAR!
I guess I was paying more attention to the forecast in Kentucky than I was to our forecast because I had no idea it was supposed to snow last night and this morning. We only got about an inch, but it was coming down when we woke up and that was enough to convince us to skip the gym. (It shouldn’t be that easy to convince us to skip the gym.) I had a moment of welcome-back-to-the-east-coast panic (everyone from Texas to Maine got snow last week – it’s not just New England), but then I remembered that this is the year (or maybe next year – we’ll see) that I get real, honest-to-goodness cold weather stuff.
I can’t have the coat I WANT because it sold out in less than 30 minutes the day it came out.
John wants this one.
Columbia made 1,980 of each of these (plus a Han Solo parka we don’t like as much), and even though they were $400 each, they were GONE. The website said they were totally sold out online, but stores had a limited number, so I called three different stores. I only got through to one place (in Minneapolis). The guy said they had one XS Leia and one 2XL Luke left, but “I’m looking at a customer who has them both in her hands right now.” It was 10:20 in the morning. The store opened at 10.
John and I are holding out hope that they’ll make more of them someday. Until then, I’ll just have to be cold in my totally not awesome normal coat.
You know what doesn’t come out of felt? Coffee. Especially sugary coffee. And you know what doesn’t smell appealing? Felt drenched in sugary coffee, even after it has dried. But you know what’s better? New felt that doesn’t smell like anything.
You know what’s a weird word? Felt.
(I dumped coffee on my felt laptop case. I ordered a new one. It came today. I’m happy again.)
You know what else is a weird word? Knap. Also, belvedere.
That is the sound of my brain shutting down. ‘Night!
Working from home gives me freedoms I haven’t really appreciated before. No one can see me when I’m on the phone, so I have the freedom to roll my eyes when certain annoying people go on and on unnecessarily about something. I have the freedom to drop my head into my hands. I have the freedom to shout at my computer when certain emails come in or to walk away or to pace during phone calls or even make tea during meetings. I can get actual WORK done during meetings that don’t require my full attention without appearing rude or self-important.
My self-control during the two days I was in the office, after a year and 9 months of freedom, was, if I may say so myself, impressive.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Unipiper. I mean, we hadn’t until we moved to Oregon, so I don’t know why you would have. In case this is your first introduction, he’s a guy in Portland who plays bagpipes while riding his unicycle. The Unipiper. He has a website.
He also made this video. Cracks me up every time I watch it. Thank you, Will, for sending it to John!
Congratulations are in order! We are the proud owners of a microwave for the first time in nearly two years. Nearly three, if you’d like to be pedantic about it. The last time we had a microwave at our disposal was in the Annapolis apartment. The Oregon house didn’t come with one, and after a few months without it, it became a matter of principle to get by without buying one. But now, a year and nine months later, we have abandoned principle. We have a microwave and the first thing we did with it was reheat tea. Anticlimactic. The second thing we did with it was soften butter because I had a lot of baking to do and I forgot to leave the butter out, and softening butter in a saucepan is really more like melting butter which is not the same thing!
I don’t think we’ve used it for anything else. It’s been a week.
Back home, thoroughly exhausted, and there’s a fancy party in Newport tonight. We’re going with John’s parents, and I’m afraid I might not have the eyelid strength needed to keep both eyes open past 8pm. Maybe one at a time, but not both together. If anyone there takes pictures, I’ll be the one in the background winking.
I certainly didn’t need it, but coming to the office these last two days has confirmed that we made the right decision when we left to work remotely. I hardly got anything done yesterday. It was nice to see everyone, but I’ve had the same conversation 75 times, and people who did and said annoying things still do and say those annoying things. The pies and cookies were a hit (I made two sweet potato pies and dozens of cookies), so I can go home confident that I have renewed whatever good will I may have needed, but that wasn’t something I was particularly worried about, either.
Anyway, boo office stuff and yay working from home.
Here’s a thing I do not regret: getting rid of cable all those years ago. I’m sitting in a hotel room, having worked late at the office (gag), eaten too much takeout Indian too late in the evening, and I turned on the TV. This hotel has DirectTV, and there are a ton of channels, and is anyone going to be surprised when I say that there is nothing on? I should hope not.
I eventually settled on an episode of Friends, which is half over by now. It’s the one where Rachel gets closure. Except, you know, not. Except, actually, maybe yeah. Anyway.
I had another frustrating run-in with a coworker, and as I walked to CVS, I mapped out an imaginary conversation with her where I tried to find a way for us to get past this stupid thing we keep butting heads about, and I got angrier and angrier because I feel like she’s taking this personally and getting emotional about it and that’s why we’re not able to work through it –
And then I realized how angry I was getting and maybe I’m taking it personally. Of course, the part I’m taking personally is her reaction to my very reasonable request for her opinion on something because it feels like a personal attack, but still. It’s work. It’s not personal. Or maybe it is for her, but that’s not my problem, and it doesn’t have to be for me.
It’s work. It’s not my life.
BUT I’M GOING TO THE OFFICE FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS AND I’LL HAVE TO WORK WITH HER IN PERSON!
I am LONG overdue for a new mouse pad. I tried to order a new mouse pad last March that never came. I eventually gave up on it, and Amazon canceled the order and refunded the money.
I’ve been using the same one for almost 8 years, ever since I started working for my current company. We made and gave out these mouse pads in the training classes I taught. This pad has been everywhere, and it shows. Food stains, coffee stains, and general dirt stains are embedded in it – it’s truly disgusting, and I don’t know why I’ve put up with it for so long.
We saw Paula Poundstone last night, and, as expected, she’s hilarious. When we left, my face hurt from all the smiling and laughing. She has some material we’d heard pieces of, but mostly she talks to the audience, and it’s great. Including last night, when two out of the three people she had extended conversations with ended up pissed off. The rest of us thought it was hilarious – those two, not so much. She may have been a bit too pointed, or they may not have been able laugh at themselves, or maybe a bit of both. I loved it.
Not related: I have Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” stuck in my head. At Thanksgiving last week, someone said something about Chinese food, and John, Sean, and I all started singing “chickity china the Chinese chicken, you have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'”. Molly didn’t know what was happening, poor sheltered child. So we educated her. By singing the whole song. Multiple times.
And now it’s stuck in your brain, too. Or maybe you’re in my brain, listening to my ear worms? Welcome! We have a good time. All I ask is that you put safety first – beware the trap doors and stay out of the way of the roller derby.
When we moved in to this house, it was still summer. It was September, and it was hot, and we kept the windows open. We used the portable AC in our bedroom at night. Any noise from the AC or the fans we have was constant – white noise that masked traffic sounds and helped us sleep.
Then it got cold. We turned on the heat. The noise began.
That’s steam hammer. We have steam heat, generated by a boiler in the basement, with radiators in every room. That banging starts in the basement and echoes (loudly) through all four floors of the house every time the heat kicks on. On top of that, high-pressure steam hisses out of each radiator’s vent periodically, also loudly. Like, the hissing wakes us up at night. We’ve taken to dropping the heat lower than we normally would at night so it won’t kick on and we don’t get scared out of bed thinking someone is coming after us with a pipewrench.
At first, we thought the banging and hissing might be happening because it was the first time the heat was running since last winter. Maybe it would work itself out after a few days of keeping the heat on. Maybe the water that is doing the actual banging would drain out on its own. It didn’t. The heat would kick on, the banging would start, and the people in my office, who could hear it clear as day on the other end of the conference line, wanted to know why I was working from a construction site.
We emailed our landlord on the 1st of November, and after 6, maybe 7, visits to the house by people with escalating levels of expertise, we THINK the problem has been resolved. As of TODAY, the 30th of November. Today, after several visits from the handyman and two different plumbers, they sent out an actual steam heating expert, who diagnosed the problem as bad return piping (which is what John diagnosed the problem to be a month ago after doing lots of internetting) and immediately fixed it. And the crazy hissing? It’s because all the high-pressure steam was only going to half the radiators, so they were getting twice the expected pressure and were attempting not to explode. Since he fixed the piping, about 3 hours ago, we haven’t heard any banging. Fingers crossed we can have quiet heat the rest of the winter.
It took a month to resolve, but ZERO DOLLARS from us. Renting isn’t perfect, but this is a big perk.
Bird and Bird joined us when our house was on the market during the holiday season in 2014, and it behooved us to decorate mildly but tastefully. I bought a little abstract sort of tree and a holiday-ish table runner for the dining room table, a green bough of some kind for the mantle, and Bird and Bird for the counter. The other decorations didn’t make the cut, but Bird and Bird accompanied us to Annapolis, across the country to Eugene, and back the other way to Providence. We like them.
Three years into our travels with Bird and Bird, we decided they needed friends.
Meet Bird and Bird:
They are appropriately dressed for the weather, and they’re ready to make friends.
Last month, I told you that my toaster has lost its ding. It still made ticking sounds while it toasted (and it did still toast). This morning, things got weird.
I put a piece of bread in the toaster and closed the door. It started ticking. I did NOT start the toaster. I twisted the dial until it stopped ticking and then walked away. (I wasn’t ready to actually toast the bread yet.)
When I came back a few minutes later, John asked me if I was trying to burn the house down. My piece of bread was practically ash. John stopped the toaster when he smelled it burning.
I got a new piece of bread, watched it while it toasted, and then twisted the dial to stop the ticking when it had toasted enough.
I unplugged the toaster (just to be sure), and sat down in the dining room to eat my not-burnt toast.
About ten minutes later, I heard the toaster ticking. IT WAS STILL UNPLUGGED.
A Twitter friend and occasional pen pal died yesterday. It was sudden – he was fine the day before Thanksgiving but then that night, his family rushed him to the hospital. He’d had a brain aneurysm. After several surgeries over the course of the weekend, the doctors determined that too much brain tissue had died for him to survive, even with another surgery. His wife took him off the ventilator Sunday afternoon.
He was unconscious the whole time. She didn’t even get to talk to him again. He was around my age, had two kids.
I only knew him through Twitter and a couple of postcards – he was funny, supportive, and kind. I feel awful for his wife and kids, and I’m trying to help in small ways.
I keep crying, but I know my emotional response is not about him. It’s not about his family. (I’d be a better person if it were.) It’s about my fear. There were no warnings. This could happen to anyone. What if it had happened to John? She didn’t even get to talk to him again. I think about what his wife is going through and I break down again, and then I feel guilty about it because it’s not about me. It didn’t happen to me. And I’m so glad it didn’t happen to me, and whoops there goes the guilt again.
I’ll be fine. I’ll do what I can to help his wife and family be fine. And tomorrow I’ll go back to our regular inane programming.