Wednesday, June 23, 2010

“Wishes Won't Wash Dishes"

It took me five years, 4 book cases, 2 entertainment centers, 1 motorcycle gas tank, 2 flat tires and 1 gas grill to learn it, but I eventually got the message: The Professor and I should not work together on any kind of home improvement/maintenance/upgrade project. The problem is that neither one of us has much skill in fixing/replacing/assembling. I want to study a picture, look at what I’m working on and move slowly, scared that screwing in the wrong bolt will cause my home to spontaneously combust. H e wants to get the entire horrid process over as quickly as possible, so he just starts assembling and/or disassembling – sometimes simultaneously – at will*. And we never seem to find a way to meld these…styles…without a lot of cussing. * I will note at this point that this “ignore the directions and screw everything together” philosophy could be the reason we had to completely take the grill apart half way through assembly so that we could start over. But I won’t. All of this is to say that when I got back from a quick 4 day trip to Florida and found my dishwasher was full of water that had failed to drain – 4 days ago – I was kinda glad The Professor was going to be out of town for a week. If he had been home, he would have been yanking things apart before I could even get to Google to ask its opinion on fixing dishwashers. I did call him and ask if he knew where the owner’s manual could be found, since he moved into the house a year before I did. He laughed at me and said “How the hell do I know? Anyway, we’ll just buy a new dishwasher”. I asked him how the hell he went from “clogged drain” to “replace the whole damn thing!” in 1.2 seconds, because I was determined to fix it. I am woman, here me roar! Surely I could just take off the drain cover, pull out whatever was clogging it, and move on to my wine and my evening. But first? I had to empty the water. Did I mention that there was so much water that when I opened the door, some of it ran onto the floor? And I figured that since it was going to require a lot of bending over and standing back up, I should probably wait to open the bottle of red my sister had sent home with me. Suddenly, just replacing the dishwasher sounded like a good idea. It sounded even better when I got the drain cover off and discovered the things growing in the Deep Dark Places of my Dishwasher. Needless to say, my little “pull off the drain cover and fix it in five minutes” plan did not work. It took me 45 minutes to get the water out. And then I had to figure out how the hell the drain cover came off, because those suckers needed something more complex than a Phillips head screwdriver, damn them. So it took me ten minutes of looking at my tool kit to figure out which unknown Thingy-With-A-Handle would remove those Weird Thingies holding the drain cover down. I was informed later (not by The Professor) that those are bolt screws. Whatever –I felt like a freaking goddess when I finally got them off. Do I even need to tell you that I could not, in fact, clear the problem? It was clearly time for me, Google, and the Wine to have a nice ménage a trios while we figured things out together. By the end of the evening, I convinced myself that I was NOT going to get into any kind of plumbing situation; that I was done, finished, we’d call a repair guy so I could drink my wine in peace without worrying that I’d accidentally jack up all my kitchen plumbing. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of telling that to a friend at work the next day, who has a very big “don’t ever call a professional without spending entirely too much time trying to fix it yourself” mentality. And he convinced me to get into the plumbing. My Friday night was shaping up to be a real treat. Ok, fine, I could do this. It’s just unhooking one little hose from one big pipe. How hard could this be? And he promised to be online to walk me through it when the panic attack hit. So I cleaned out under the kitchen sink, got a big bowl to catch water, and went to it, if by "went to it" you mean "stare at the pipes for 30 minutes before realizing that I actually had to touch the pipe if I wanted to get anything productive done". 30 minutes later – full of furious IM’ing and handholding – I had some things taken a apart, a little more water drained – and nothing fixed. "Don’t worry", Friend typed. "On Monday I’ll bring you something to slide in the hose and loosen up whatever’s stuck." So I ignored the dishwasher for the weekend, which was easy because I pretty much ingore the dishwasher all the time anyway. Guess what? The snake-claw-grabber thing didn’t work either. By now, The Professor was home from his trip and I was finished, done, over it. I turned it over to him and said “I’m NOT pulling this monster out of the cabinets. Call someone, I’m through”. And then I grabbed the rum and the pina colada mix and went outside and pretended I was back in Florida, with the delusion that I had functional kitchen appliances. So, The Professor calls Friend J, who lives down the street. Friend J is a handy guy to have around, if you happen to be as clueless with tools as The Professor and I happen to be. (True Story: Friend J had to use a hammer at our house once and when I handed it to him he laughed and called it a “Baby Hammer”). Friend J comes over the next morning (yesterday) and starts taking things apart –in the correct order, no less. And after much handyman-work-that-I-am-in-awe-of, he figured out the problem. A teeny tiny screw had come loose from the teeny tiny blade that chops up any food that gets past the drain cover. And he found it in the motor. Where it had done Considerable Damage. Guess who’s getting a new dishwasher? PS – they also found the owner’s manual! When they pulled the dishwasher out of the cabinet, they discovered that the people that installed it had left the manual taped to the top of the dishwasher. Brilliance!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Public Service Announcement

This was a big topic recently in our library and I meant to write it up, but completely forgot about it. You're about to see the wonderful things we discuss in the break room. One of our technicians recently started collecting plastic bottles to recycle (I think she's donating them somewhere). And I happened to notice that everyone was throwing their bottles in the bin with the lid attached, which is pretty much a no-no. That's a different kind of plastic than the bottle, and enough of them in a batch of melting plastic can change the chemistry enough that the entire batch has to be thrown away. Bottom line: Those bottles saved from the landfill? Probably ended up there anyway. And of course, I wasn't believed, so I had to do research. Yay for research! And because I firmly believe in getting as much mileage as possible out of my paltry skills (Seriously: Googleing "bottle recycling remove caps" doesn't take much of a feat of intelligence skills), I present to you the evidence I collected: From Mother Nature Network:
"Bottles and caps are made from different types of plastic, so even if they are both recycled, they generally most be separated first...You can probably improve the chances of the bottle—and possibly the cap, but at least the bottle—getting recycled if you take off the cap. This also allows the bottle to dry out ome."
From Eco-cycle:
Q. Do I need to take the caps and lids off plastic containers before I recycle them? Can the caps be recycled as well? A. Remove the caps and lids from all plastic bottles and jugs (and tubs) before recycling the containers. Plastic caps have a different melting point than other recyclable plastics and will contaminate the load. Throw away or find a creative way to reuse plastic caps—they make great paint or glue holders for small projects. Q. Do I need to remove the plastic ring that is left around the neck of a plastic bottle when I remove the cap? A. No, you do not need to remove it. The recycling center is allowed a minimal amount of “contamination” in our materials to account for things like the plastic ring and the label on the product.
And Earth 911 has 2 helpful things here: 1) How to recycle those lids, and 2) a handy list of which lids are included in that program, which will also pretty much tell you what lids to keep out of your recycling bin. So. My good deed for the day is finished. I need a librarian cape or something.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Identity Crisis

I’m a big fan of Secret, but they're trying to destroy my psyche. I’m not talking about that new-age/self-help/the-world-is-full-of-rainbows-and-unicorns book, but Secret – the stuff you put under your arms* to hopefully make you stink less.
*I absolutely loathe the word “armpit”. Arm Pit. It sounds like a dirty place that sludge would ooze out of. Which, fine, maybe you ooze sludge. Conveniently enough, I glisten and don’t ooze. Mostly. And one of my favorite blogs has a re-occurring phrase of “gushing arm pits” that makes me feel like I’ve just been showered in some else’s under-arm sludge, which makes me want to bathe in lemon scented bleach, because straight bleach stinks. And this is really too long for an italicized note, but I’m not going back and tweaking that now.
So, deodorant. For me, that's Secret. Been using it (Secret) for more than half of my life. I especially like the Soft Solid. The roll-on makes me feel like I’ve added Sludge under my arms instead of preventing whatever Glistening might naturally occur, which kind of defeats the purpose of buying those products in the first place. The dry solids are not really worth having an opinion one way or another. And Aerosol makes me want to scream, but that’s a different rant.
Also, on my deodorant specifications list, is that it should be unscented. If I wanted to smell like baby powder – the smell of which makes me want to lose my breakfast – I would damn well put baby powder under my arms. If I wanted to smell like an odd combination of roses and violets, I’d buy some perfume from the Age 80+ counter at Macy’s. And what the hell is “Spring Fresh” even supposed to mean? Thunderstorms? Because around here, Spring=Tornado Season, not a vaguely-slightly-floral, highly-unnatural scent that one wants to spread on unseen parts of their body.
Thus, for 16 years, it’s been Me + Unscented Soft Solid Secret. We have lived in harmony.
Until this past March, when I inexplicably stopped finding unscented Secret of any variety other than Roll On. A couple of years ago it disappeared from my CVS shelves, and I almost sobbed in the Walgreens deodorant aisle when I found it there. Walmart is always hit or miss. But it’s always been somewhere. But about 3 months ago, someone hit a secret switch that made all of my Unscented Soft Solid Secret disappear from the state. And I panicked – I needed something to freshen my Glistening soon. And unscented had apparently been banned from even being a scent anymore, because – and trust me, I shopped around – there was nothing scent-free to be found on the shelves. So, being a frugal person, I started buying random deodorants when the sales and coupons aligned, which they do quite frequently. The problem?
Apparently, everyone wants to spread “Spring Fresh” or “Green Euphoria”** under their arms, so now I have to smell like something besides, you know – ME - and picking out a new scent for yourself is a LOT of pressure. I now see why Jennifer Lopez has a gazillion “signature scents” in her perfume line.
**What the HELL is “Green Euphoria”? The only things I’ve seen that are naturally body-related and green are: A) vomit and B) snot. Neither of which would I slather in my Glistening Places.
So. I went through a trial and error phase for a couple of months. I’d try a new deodorant scent for a couple of weeks. And every time I moved my arms at work (I move around a lot of books and binders on to and off of shelves), I would notice my deodorant. Which is not something I want to do, especially since I couldn’t find a scent that I liked. So, even though I smelled like products that are supposed to make you smell better, I was always fairly confident that my Glistening smelled better than their Glisten-Preventing-Substances. In any case, I didn’t smell like me anymore, and I couldn’t figure out who I was supposed to smell like. And you know how you smell a shirt to see if you can wear it again (Oh come ON, yes you do)? Well, I didn’t know anymore. I couldn’t figure out what it smelled like, and so suddenly I was doing more laundry (meaning, of course, that The Professor was doing more laundry, but it counts - we’re married – one mind, heart, soul and all of that) all because I couldn’t tell who I was anymore. And it's hard to live with yourself when you don't even know what your shirts are supposed to smell like, so I'd just have another glass of wine.
I’m happy to report that I have discovered the right meds had a breakthrough and am on week 3 of one scent, and I don’t hate it. It’s simply called “Fresh”, which means that it’s an uncomplicated scent that no one else is going to buy because “FRESH” is not quite descriptive enough of what kind of “Fresh”. Is it “Spring Fresh” or “Powder Fresh” or “Mountain Fresh”? Why would anyone buy something as uncomplex as “Fresh”? And in about 3 years it, too, will disappear, which means I should start the stockpile this weekend. Ironically enough, I had a huge stockpile of it last year that I had gotten practically free at CVS …and I sold them for a buck a piece in a yard sale making like 1 million percent profit, but leaving me in a lurch when my Secret disappeared. But at least I'm coming back to the knowledge of Who I Smell Like.
And speaking of deodorant stockpiles (surely a topic that should come up once in everyone’s lifetime)…let’s move on to The Professor. He has also been a big fan of one particular brand and scent since time began. And guess what? About a month after my Crisis hit, his did too. Same. Exact. Story. Although it was a different brand, because - Surprise! - The Professor does not use Secret. And he uses a scented one, which is ok with me because he’s been using that scent since before I met him – so that’s HIS smell, not Speed Stick’s.
To shorten the story, he had to try something new as well. And then I’d walk in the door after not knowing who the hell *I* smelled like all day, and he’d hug me and kiss me, and I’d be like “Hey, who are you, you smell funny” and then I’d just want to cry. Not that he bathes in it or anything, but it was just part of Who He Is - part of his scent was Speed Stick Musk, but suddenty it wasn't, and I couldn't handle it. Because really, A)You should know who you are, and b) you shouldn’t be disturbed by your husband’s “Sports Fresh” scent. Oh yes. The menfolk, they get the Freshness, too. And “Sports Fresh” sounds suspiciously like SWEAT to me.
The Professor got a much happier ending. He discovered that our local Walmart carries his preferred varietal. Which means we have about 10 sticks of it in the cabinet, because he’s buys one every time he passes Walmart, but I’m not laughing. No…I’m jealous. At least he’s found a way to fight back against the identity crisis. Which, to be honest, I did too, I just upped my wine budget and moved on.*
*Because in the end, all roads lead to Wine. Not Rome. Not Hell. Wine. But today, my lovelies, I discovered the perfect solution on the wonderfulness that we call The Internetz. Behold: An Unscented Deodorant Patch! I do believe it will solve all of my problems. I’ll have to attach an explanation card to every piece of clothing I send to Goodwill for the rest of my life, but that might just be worth it. At least I’ll always know who I am. There’s only so much wine I can drink to help with that, and I’m not on the Really Good Meds.