Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There is a big giant hole in my front yard

Here, look at this:

Or this: (Mmmmmmm)

Or even this:

These lovely pictures will have to hold you for a while, since I will be dealing with this for the foreseeable future:

Late Friday Night/early Saturday morning, a thunderstorm dropped more than 6 inches of rain in less than two hours. My basement was flooded and I might have lost my computer. I'll know when it all dries out. Also, in a probably related occurence, a giant sinkhole appeared in my front lawn. Approximately 1 metre across and 2 metres deep. Nice.

I have to keep this short, as I am at work. I don't know when I'll be blogging again in any sort of regular manner, but rest assured you'll find out all about the flood and the recovery when I get a home computer up and running again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How I know I'm a woman, or, Home Depot is stupid

Geary, D.C., 1998. Chapter 8: Sex differences in brain and cognition. In "Male, Female: the Evolution of Human Sex Differences". American Psychological Association Books. ISBN: 1-55798-527-8.

Rabinowicz T., Dean D.E., Petetot J.M., de Courten-Myers G.M., 1999. Gender differences in the human cerebral cortex: more neurons in males; more processes in females. Journal of Child Neurology, Feb;14(2):98-107.

Schlaepfer T.E., Harris G.J., Tien A.Y., Peng L., Lee S., Pearlson G.D., 1995. Structural differences in the cerebral cortex of healthy female and male subjects: a magnetic resonance imaging study. Psychiatry Research, Sep 29;61(3):129-35.

Party of 3, 2009. Home Depot was totally designed and laid out by men and things are put in places that are not logical at all. Idiots. Journal of Common Sense, People!, vol 1.

OK, so we already know that men and women think differently due to physical differences in their brains, blah, blah, blah, hardwired, blah, blah, neurons, yadda, yadda, cerebral cortex, blah, blah, blah, Ginger. I buy this, I really do. It's painfully obvious. And nowhere is it more apparent than in the giant social experiment in gender difference that is Home Depot. You see, Home Depot was obviously laid out by a man. Because nothing is in the places where it makes sense for them to be.

Case in point, I went to Home Depot to pick up 3 things: a new burner for my barbecue, a strap wrench to replace the one I borrowed from my neighbour and then misplaced (Connie, if you're reading this, please don't tell Cliff. I bought the exact same one to give back.), and a replacement 12-volt battery for my cordless doorbell. Simple, right? You'd think so, wouldn't you? But no.

The barbecue burner was easy. It was in the Barbecue Section. One down, two to go. The girls were enjoying themselves riding in the giant shopping cart.

Next, the strap wrench. A strap wrench is a tool, right? So I headed out to the Tool Section. Silly me. What was I thinking? I cruised the aisles in the tool section: hammers, clamps, screw drivers, bits, pliers, wrenches. Ah, here we go. Hmmmm, strap wrench, let me see, mmmmm, nope. No strap wrenches. Look up at sign at top of display: Pliers and Wrenches. Nope, still no strap wrench. WTF? OK, there's one of those guys in the orange apron.

"Excuse me, could you tell me where I'd find a strap wrench?"

"In Plumbing? But it's a tool. It's called a strap wrench, so why isn't it with the other wrenches in the part of the Tool Section that is clearly marked 'Wrenches'?! I mean, I figured that a person could find a strap wrench with all the other wrenches in a display which actually says 'wrenches' on it. It's just common sense."

"No, I will not lower my voice and stop saying 'wrenches."

"This place is stupid."

So, we slunk off and found the strap wrench. In the Plumbing Section. Idiots.

Next, the doorbell battery. Now where would a sane person (read: woman) put the battery-operated doorbells? Now I might be going out on a limb here, but I do think that perhaps it might just make the tiniest bit of sense to put the doorbells, oh, say, in or near the Door Section? You know, just for shits and giggles? So, undeterred by our wrench debacle, off we went down the wide concrete aisles in search of doors. And we found doors. Hundreds of them. Wooden doors, steel doors, screen doors. Oh, and door knobs -- fancy ones and plain ones, ones with deadbolts, ones with keypads, brass ones and nickel ones. And in the next aisle, the numbers that you put on the outside of your house, next to the door, so people know if they're at the right address.

Hot damn! The doorbells ought to be right around here. Because, you know, they're usually on the outside of a house, next to the door, about the same height as the handle, underneath the address numbers, and all of those items are in the same section.... But again, no. Nope, no doorbells and no doorbell batteries. I turned and looked for one of the 'associates'. I think I saw the tool guy off in the distance, but he ducked quickly behind a display of routers when I started in his direction. (Coincidentally, I'm sure.)

A new orange-apron guy informed me that doorbells and batteries for doorbells are in the Electrical Section. Right. Because battery-operated doorbells that don't even run on household electricity should really be found in the Electrical Section, instead of the Door Section, which, God forbid, would actually make sense. (Note: I do know that a battery is a device that converts chemical energy directly to electrical energy, I do know that AC/DC is more than just an Australian band with an old guy who still thinks it's flattering to strip out of his schoolboy uniform and show his scrawny ass to crowds of adoring fans, but come on. In the broad scheme of household items: things you plug into the wall = electrical, things that run on batteries = not really electrical-> battery-operated. Seriously.) But there they were, amongst all the light switches and outlet covers and other non-door-related objects.

Yeah, I know. Grumpy much?

I do think a fitting revenge for the guy who assigned items to the various sections in Home Depot would be to send him to Bed, Bath & Beyond with instructions to buy a set of cotton shams. Poor bastard would probably go crazy looking for the Automotive Care Section.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

These aren't the droids you're looking for

I know what I want to be when I grow up: a Jedi knight.

Seriously, what's not to like? A cool lightsaber; a choice of flattering garments, from brown robes to more form-fitting white leggings and a tunic; totally awesome martial arts skills; and the ability to use telekinesis to bring things flying to you from across the room -- like the aforementioned lightsaber -- or, more practically, a new roll of toilet paper when you really, really need one.

But the best thing, the coolest talent that I'd have, is the Jedi mind trick, the ability to use the Force to influence the minds of others, just like Obi-wan:

I could use it on my daughters at home, so I could have more time for blogging, reading and sitting on my ass doing nothing gardening:

I could use it at work, to decrease the stress of my heavy workload:

If it works on customer service drones over the phone, I could use it to effect a positive cash-flow situation in the family budget:

Hell, I could use it on everyone in the whole wide world!!!!

Sigh. I guess even the Force has some limits.

But the ultimate use of the Jedi mind trick, the Holy Grail of mind control, would obviously be this:

May the Force be with me.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

I'm not making this up, you know.

Leah has a thing for words. She loves to read, to write and illustrate stories, to leave me notes, and she has a passion for those word puzzles where you have to find and circle words in a large block of what looks like random letters. She's even created her own -- slaving over the paper and then presenting me or Rachel with the finished product, the lines slanting and wavering, but the list of words at the bottom are always found in the letter block.

Knowing this, my mum gave Leah a giant word-search puzzle book at Easter. It languished for a while in her bedroom, but she's been working on it lately. Last Thursday we were at Rachel's soccer game, sitting on the sidelines, hoping that the rain would hold off (it didn't), and Leah was working on one of the puzzles in the book. She was using a bright red marker to circle the words. I glanced over at her just in time to see her circle the word plastered. Excuse me? What was that again? I leaned over for a better look. Yup, plastered. I checked the title of the puzzle: 'Drunken Stupor'. Nice. The word list included addled, bender, blasted, blotto, crocked, loaded, stewed, stinko, tanked, and wasted. Hmmm, the cover of the book didn't say anything like 'for ages 16 and up'.

Later that night, after Leah was in bed, I picked up the puzzle book and started leafing through it. The first puzzle was called 'Critical Condition' and contained words like adjudge, appraise, analysis, evaluate, partisan, review, regard, unbiased. OK, fine.

The next puzzle was 'Of High Standards': accept, admire, credence, curtsy, gratuity, ratify, tribute. I can't see how those words relate to the title, but still, OK.

Number 3 was the aforementioned 'Drunken Stupor'. Probably an anomaly, right? All the rest were probably lists of barnyard animals, or cities in Florida, or cooking terms. (And yes, all those were in the book, but they weren't the next ones, oh no siree.)

Number 4, 'This is a Bust': addiction, bong, bummer, charge, dusted, freebase, habit, hooked, kitchen, loaded, mainline, needle, overdose, posession, rush, score, wired.

And the logical follow-up, 'Dead End Street': acidhead, addict, candyman, connection, dealer, dopehead, freak, junkie, pillhead, pusher, runner.

So, of course, the next one would have to be 'Arresting Factors': accessory, bandit, bookie, conman, crook, felon, hooker, hooligan, killer, mafia, mugger, racketeer, thief, tong, vandal.


I'm torn between tearing out the offending pages and letting them stay. She hasn't asked about any of the words, they're just patterns of letters that she's looking for. And who knows, perhaps this vocabulary can set her on a career path as a Crown prosecutor. Or a writer for Law and Order or CSI: Carp.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

No, they're not

"The rich are different from you and me." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

"No, they're not." - Alison

See, we're all the same underneath, whether we're royalty, or just that guy who thinks it's funny to give his wife a Dutch oven in bed after a night of beer and chili.