Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sorry, I can Not Hear You, I'm Kinda Busy...

It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of the telephone.

This was completely understandable during my internship and residency when I would get calls at 2am like "Hi Dr. B. Your patient just arrested. Do you want us to keep doing CPR?" or "We have an owner on the line whose ferret just had a bookcase fall on it and now it can't move its back legs. Do they need to come in?" (Yes, those were actual calls I received on two different nights.)

However, my hatred of the telephone goes back at least a decade before that. I went for months at least once without answering my home phone. Granted, all I ever ended up with on the answering machine was some old guy loudly repeating "Marta?.... Marta?...", but still.

I realize that this is somewhat heretical since a cell phone company pays my bills, but audio quality on cell phones is terrible and seems to be getting worse. As much as I like to blame everything on my LG Chocolate POS, it's just the nature of cell phones. I'd rather not talk to anyone than try to carry on a conversation on a cell phone.

And now, of course, they're switching all the phones at work to VOIP (voice over IP, which is all digital). We had the old and new phones active this week, and guess what? The VOIP phones have terrible sound quality and have a noticeable lag. This is progress.

Anyhow, I was setting up my voice mail on the new phone, and after I recorded my name, I got to the section on recording a greeting. It started with "Outgoing greetings encourage people to leave you messages."

That was all I needed to know. I left it blank.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Q: What Time Is It When It's Time To Get A New Fence?

A: Time to get an elephant to sit on the fence. (Insert sound of Jojo and K-poo laughing maniacally here)

It's time for Hot (and possibly Hotter as well, although the fact that he took off in the middle of the last fence rebuild to go visit his girlfriend in Texas might have put a damper on their business relationship, so I wouldn't be surprised if Ponch found someone else to fill in) to put in a new fence on the other side of the house.

Yes, this means that all of the ivy and wisteria and trumpet vines and oleander need to be trimmed back, so that's what I was doing all weekend. I managed not to injure myself, although I did have a few fence boards fall on me when I removed the vegetation holding them up.

Here are a few oh-so-artistic shots that show why I need a new fence:

And, just for fun, one shot of the finished cat porch:

See how productive I can be?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Staple, Redux

I was getting the feeling that I was the only person in the world who didn't know about the whole T20 vs T50 conspiracy. Then I offered to give the box of staples to Jeff if he needed them for his other staple gun. That was when he told me that he already had multiple boxes of the wrong kind of staples in his garage.

I feel better now.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Staple Here

Before I start my rant, I'd just like to point out that it was so hot here this weekend that Molly Speedbump, who normally follows me around so obsessively that if she were a human, she would be considered a stalker, actually refused to go into the back yard with me and elected to stay inside with the air conditioning.

But back to the rant: I was out in the heat implementing version two of the cat porch (yes, I know I'm a crazy cat lady, just let it go) and I was about to run out of staples for the staple gun, so I went to the hardware store.

I even brought the label for the current box:

The only brand of staples I found were these:

And the back of the box looked like this:

They looked like they should work just fine. Of course they didn't. They aren't even close to fitting in the staple gun. I still don't see anything on the box that suggests that they aren't compatible. I'm not happy.

On a positive note, while I was in the hardware store, I happened to see the Havahart clip pliers, which take a J-shaped piece of metal and roll it to bundle two wires together. Those things are great. They saved me all kinds of time and energy -- the wire clipped together is probably the strongest part of the whole construction.

But if I ever find out who labels staples, I'm going to staple a few notes to his forehead...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Wondrous Hog

One thing about the new dog forcing me to take her on walks every morning is that I get going a whole lot earlier on the weekends. Molly Speedbump doesn't get the concept of weekends, so as soon as I get up, we have to get going. (She does, however, understand the concept of sleeping in, which is a very, very good thing.)

As a result, I have a chance to get some yard work done before the blazing heat makes it impossible. My front yard is looking about as good as it ever has.

Today I was once again marveling at the Lawn Hog:

I've used this thing for eight years, and aside from the handle (which has always been a pain), it has worked really well the entire time. In the last three years my neighbor has broken the reel on his gas mower not once, but twice after running over things. Meanwhile I've run over rocks, dirt clods, stumps, and at least two sprinklers and never had a problem.

If you look closely at the blades, though, you can tell it isn't completely unscathed:

I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be a straight line... Still, it cuts the grass just fine. At this rate it should last another twenty years before I wear through one of the blades entirely. I'm okay with that.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Crossing the Plum Line

Jeff has a plum tree, which means he's been giving away bags of ripe plums to everyone that doesn't run away fast enough.

I made plum butter with mine -- it's a bit of a misnomer since there's no butter involved, just plums, sugar, and water -- and while it's probably a little thinner than it is supposed to be, it's perfect as a syrup substitute for waffles.

Jeff is making what we will call hillbilly wine. He wanted to see if he could make wine without going out and buying extra stuff, so in his garage he has a bunch of plums fermenting in a detergent bucket. He used bread yeast and ran out of sugar, so I'm guessing this might be a bit of a disaster, but he's not very picky about his alcohol so I'm sure he'll drink it anyway.

I think he might as well distill the wine into brandy (which he could probably do with the stuff he has in the garage), but that's probably too hoity toity for him.

Hopefully the wine won't be damaged by the lack of attention this weekend -- he's off camping with his buddies in the state park. They used to have bottle rocket wars, where they would aim the fireworks at each other and use trash can lids as shields, but now they're getting old, so they just sit around and drink and read books.

Anyhow, if anyone wants a bag of plums, I know where you can get some. Cheap.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

No Flip, Just Flop

I found out this weekend that I'm a total fraud.

I was born in California, and except for a few years in Missouri (not my fault), a year in Germany (my fault), and a year in Louisiana (a disaster of epic proportions that I'd love to blame on somebody else), I've lived my entire life in California.

Not only have I lived almost exclusively in California, I grew up in Southern California a few miles from one of the nicest beaches around.

Sure, I don't have a tan, but nobody has a real tan these days. Not like when we were kids and people slathered baby oil on their leathery skin and used reflectors to get an even tan under the chin. I never had the patience to tan properly, which turned out to be a good thing, cancer-wise.

I may not have the bangin' beach bod, but I do have blond(ish) hair and blue eyes.

Despite all these qualifications, I may have to turn in my California card, because this weekend I found out I can no longer walk in flip-flops. What the hell? I don't remember this being a problem when I was a kid -- they stayed on my feet and I ran around in them.

Now I find them flying off my feet as I'm walking, and I almost fell when I stepped on one with the other foot.

Is this what happens when you get out of practice? Or am I just getting old? Please don't tell me I have to move to Minnesota...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Recession Has Affected Everyone...

Look, even the Mob has been hard hit -- they're having to advertise now.

Wiping out any witnesses is fine, but apparently a true professional cremates them afterward...