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|There's a Sucker Bjorn Every Minute||
I have a spammer. A Swedish spammer.
I'm not sure the distinction is especially important. If it were a masseuse, then clearly a Swede would be better. Or a chef. At least, if the chef was also a Muppet. Obviously. Or a bikini team.
Unless those were also Muppets. Then the Swedishness is probably not so important.
But a spammer? I don't know.
Just about a year ago, I pretty much eliminated random auto-spam comment crap here on the site. I tried third-party filters, but the crap oozed through. I tried integrated modules; still a trickle of crap flowed in. So I took matters into my own hands, and dug into the comment code myself.
Naturally, that broke the whole damned thing. The crap stopped. And so did everything else. I'm lucky I didn't catch the damned server on fire.
But! I kept at it, tinkered and retinkered, and finally I had it. Through a series of checks and clever deductions -- which I can't actually remember at this point, because it happened longer than twelve minutes ago and I have the memory of a half-witted drunken pomeranian -- I managed to shut out automated comment spam, for good.
Also, because I'm ridiculously stubborn at making life harder for myself than it really needs to be, I did it without introducing any new user-facing doohickeys or restrictions. No extra accounts to sign up for. No CAPTCHAS. No shutting down comments after a week or a month. No "Add 6 + 14 and write the fourteenth word on page 319 of War and Peace in the space below to prove you've got a heartbeat". Because this shouldn't be any harder on the commenters, I decided for no especially good reason.
(Particularly considering that there aren't any commenters, much, in the first place. I think my Italian-gone-Belgian friend is the only one whose left an actual comment in the past six months or more.
Still, it's possible. Comments work. And no auto-spam. I'm calling it a success -- and assuming that no one is actually trying to comment in the meantime. Or reading. Or paying any attention at all.
It's a fairly loose definition of "success", when you get right down to it. Welcome to my world.)
"You don't need a Turing test to tell the flesh and blood dickbags from the spamputers. It's pretty obvious."
So, auto-spam is kaput. But occasionally -- very occasionally -- some slack-jawed weenie will get into his head to manually visit the site and drop a steaming loaf of gibberish and a fake email address and links to the porn site or peener pill or get-rich scheme du jour.
I can tell that these are actual hits to the site, rather than an evil autobot scheme to hork up the interwebs, because I can see the records in my server logs. A click on the page, a hop to the comments, and a real, live form submission, honest-to-heavens button click and all.
The spambots don't work that way. They have some sort of hive-mind interface that picks out comment pages to sully. It looks different. I don't want to give away the secret, lest the Matrix retool itself to more effectively annoy us. But trust me. You don't need a Turing test to tell the flesh and blood dickbags from the spamputers. It's pretty obvious.
I haven't had a human -- or, let's be honest, a knuckle-dragging subhuman -- spammer in quite a while. Weeks, or maybe months. But last night, I got two comments on years-old posts, within a few minutes of each other. I checked the logs, and sure enough, I could trace them to a user session. A session originating from "PRQ Internet KB", situated in lovely, chilly, and evidently somewhat-spammy Sweden.
I was surprised. I expect this from the Russians. Or Nigerian royalty, of course. But the Swedes? I guess life isn't just meatballs and Ikeas over there, either. Slime oozes to fill any void.
Happily, removing the offending spamments takes less time than whatever Scandinavian scumpot is using to leave them. When a comment comes, I get an email. If it's fishy -- see, see, Swedish fishy, ohyeahiwentthere -- there's a link right at the bottom of the mail I can click to flush it away. Two seconds. Less, now that I know just to scan the details for Swedy McSwederspam's telltale IP.
I got three more hits -- and comments -- today. The nice thing about actual people leaving this junk is that they have to look, at some point. They have to check the old posts they've hit, to make sure their filthy fingerprints are still plastered thereon. That the "work" they're doing isn't just vanishing into the ether, once they've identified a seemingly-exploitable hole.
Alternatively, the manual comment-leaving is a test of said hole, to make sure the bots have a crack to jam a hose into, so they can spew their greasy spam slop all over the site.
Either way, they'll be sorely disappointed. The crack is shut. The exploitable, not. The proverbial cake, made in this case of spam and frosted with filth, is a lie.
So spam on, little Swedish fish. You've taken five shots at it. Most of your kind don't last even this long kicking the bear before they move on, presumably, to somewhere less bear-like for kicks. Maybe you're not so easily convinced. Maybe Swedish determination is stronger than others.
But probably, you're just an idiot. So shove a meatball up it, spamwad, and jump off a fjord. Parting is such Swede sorrow.
|The Memory of Wheeze||
I write a lot of nonsense around here. I wouldn't want you to think that I'm specifically torturing you by throwing all that jibberjabber in one place. There's plenty to go around. Plenty.
By way of proof, I'll share a bit of nonsense with you that, until now, actually wasn't posted anywhere in these pages.
Though after I share it, I suppose it will be posted in these pages, and so I'll have tortured you with another bit of jibberjabber, after all.
Sorry. At least take heart that you weren't the first to deal with this particular nightmare. And may not be the last.
Anyway, here's the thing. A few weeks ago, the company I'm with celebrated their fifth year anniversary. I haven't been with them for all five years, of course -- only for sixteen months or so. And being relatively new, I wasn't sure what to get them. Or us. Or however this works. I felt like I should bring in something pewter, or marbled silverware or some sort of commemorative tea cozy. These "social convention" events make me all nervous and clammy.
(My wife and I solved the problem by deciding for our fifth anniversary, we should exchange "alcohol" and "moist towelettes". Much better. And practical, too. To a certain point.)
Luckily, it turned out I was off the hook for this company anniversary thing, mostly. They didn't want gifts or cards or a nice romantic dinner. Instead, they asked each employee to relate a memory of their time at the company -- something in the last year that inspired, or awed, or otherwise made a personal impact.
The admin staff collected these stories into a little booklet that we all received at the company party, and I got to see how my fellow employees thought about the place. All the amazing work and the people they remembered. The triumphs. The challenges. The drive to achieve and persevere and do good science.
(Because we're a science company. If we were a bakery, that would be weird. You do "good science" in a bakery, and probably the donuts don't get made or something. But for us, it's a good thing.)
Yeah. So here's the lasting personal memory I shared (very slightly edited, to protect the innocent):
I joined the company on January 1, 2012 and - once the New Year's bubbly was fully out of my system - settled in nicely to work on projects. One of my first assignments was analyzing ChIP-seq data for an experiment of [one of the lead scientists and company founders; let's call him Carl], and I dug in as best I could.
"It's the kind of experience that can quickly make you wonder whether your last employer kept you around simply because you make a mean tuna casserole at the potlucks."
(Despite not knowing much yet about the experimental setup. Or ChIP-seq. Or epigenetics. It's the kind of experience that can quickly make you wonder whether your last employer kept you around simply because you make a mean tuna casserole at the potlucks.)
And that, friends, is why they pay me the big bucks. Or the medium-sized bucks. Mostly these days, they just tie a twenty to a stick and dangle it over the front of the exercise bike.
They know I'll never reach it. But if I pedal far enough before I pass out, maybe they can run the lights for a few minutes on the cheap. So I'm helping. See? I'm helping!
|We All Scream for a Time Machine||
I think all food should be more like ice cream.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. Or has ever eaten ice cream.
But I'm not actually talking about the taste of the stuff now, nor the texture, nor the cool refreshing temperature, so frosty and refreshing on a brisk winter's morn
(Oh, like you've ever tried it. You don't know.)
Rather, I'm talking about packaging. Specifically, package labeling -- and super-duper Rocky Road-ly specifically, about package dating. Because ice cream has the dating thing down, yo. And the other foodstuffs around this joint could learn a lesson or two.
Take my wieners, for instance. I've got a package of Oscar Meyer in the fridge right now that's almost done. Only two hot dogs remain, resting in their little slimy wienersleeves, waiting to be eaten.
But can I eat them? No. I cannot. For right on the package, in black stamped letters, it says:
ENJOY BEFORE APRIL 12 2013
Well, Mr. Meyer, I did that. I enjoyed several of your bun sausages before that date, as instructed. But here lie these stragglers. Two lonely weens, past their prime and with no potato rolls to hold them. I can't turn back the calendar, and the instructions are clear. So into the bin they go. Farewell, poor wieners. We hardly knew ye.
Or what about the jar of capers that's been sitting in the back of the fridge since the Clinton administration? I'd be perfectly happy to use those -- if only I knew what capers were for. Or what they were. Or where that jar had come from. I didn't buy it. My best guess is that the refrigerator grew it a while back, when we weren't looking. Like a skin tag, only pickled and tasting like artichoke turds.
"In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I haven't actually tasted a lot of skin tags."
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to admit that I haven't actually tasted a lot of skin tags. Maybe yours do taste pickled and artichokey. In which case, good luck with that.)
The point is, even if I wanted to use them, I couldn't. Because right there on the jar, in machine-stamped robot font it clearly reads:
USE BY SEPTEMBER 30 2004
And in this, apparently, I've also failed. The pressure of these culinary deadlines is tremendous -- I wasn't even aware this one was coming up. Back, you know, when it came up. Nine years ago. Give or take an artichoke.
Frankly, I think some sort of warning system is needed for such things. When your capers are about to... uh, unshrivel, or depickle, or whatever the hell it is they do to go bad, you should get an email or something from the caper company. A reminder. It's not like it's not feasible -- there are flower companies out there telling me when my great-uncle's birthday is coming up, and collection agencies who seem to know precisely how overdue the cable bill is. Get the grocery people in the loop, is all I'm saying. Send me a Capergram, for crissakes. I'll chug the things, if that's what it takes. I just need to know.
Luckily, ice cream is not so high-maintenance. After dinner tonight, I was peckish for a bit of dessert, and rummaged around the freezer to find a half-pint of the good stuff tucked in the back by the forgotten icy peas. I don't recall seeing it before -- we probably bought it (and forgot it) to take to some birthday party or housewarming or ice fishing blowout. Who knows how long it's been in there, spooning forgotten frozen dinners and last millennium's microwave burritos? But still it was safe to eat, and the bottom of the tub itself said so:
PURCHASE BY AUGUST 22 2011
Now, I don't know how long it's been in there. But I'm confident we bought it before August 2011. It had to be that long, at least, just from the amount of ice I had to chip off the thing to extract it from the shelf. And that's the only thing it said -- not 'use by' or 'discard before' or 'will make you hurl explosively after'. Just 'purchase by'.
And I did. So I ate it. And it was delicious, and only tasted a little bit like old peas and petrified refried beans. And that's why all these other foods could learn a valuable lesson from ice cream. Tasty, silky ice cream. Not so strict with the rules ice cream. My once and always favorite food -- ice cream.
Yep. That's the good stuff, all right.
Did I mention I don't feel so great tonight? Yeah. This looks like it may not end well.
Frankly, I blame the capers.
|Spare Me, Change||
I don't believe in signs.
Sometimes, like tonight, it's very difficult. But I do not believe in signs. I'm quite sure of this. Even if I have to repeat it occasionally to make sure.
The particular sign I'm not believing in tonight is that universe doesn't want me to change. As signs go, this is a pretty easy one to disbelieve, because it's plainly ridiculous on its face. For one thing, the universe doesn't care what I do. It's got entropy to deal with, and expanding billions of light years in all directions, and taking compliments on how slim its looking these days and where all its missing mass went.
(I say, I say, that's an astrophysical joke son! Astrophysics!
You ain't quite got yer whole beak in the feedin' trough, there, do ya, son? Sakes alive.)
More to the point, if the universe did have any opinions pointed in my direction, I can only imagine they would be overwhelmingly pro-change, since everyone else's have always seemed to be and I'm still not following the advice attached to any of those. So I have a firm and unwavering belief that the universe is in no way telling me to stick to the status quo.
And yet. There's tonight.
Tonight, my wife is out at the ballet with a friend of hers. They plan these evenings occasionally -- two girls, out for dinner and drinks and a night of watching beanpole plumsmugglers tiptoe around a stage. I don't like to get in the way of their fun -- or within three hundred yards of a ballet performance, if I can help it -- so I stay on the sidelines. Even when nipples are involved.
So I get the place to myself for a few Saturday evening hours, and I've developed a fairly predictable routine. She leaves around five o'clock for dinner, which is a good time for a beer. I watch some TV, order our usual pizza from our regular place, watch some more TV, have another beer or two, and generally make sure the living room couch doesn't scamper away before the missus returns around ten or eleven.
That's the norm. But, I decided, not tonight. Tonight, I wanted a change.
So. I kissed my wife goodbye around five, marched into the kitchen, and poured a beer.
"Instead of flopping on the living room couch and watching TV, I read a book. In the living room. On the couch. Where I flopped."
Hey, I didn't say I wanted to change everything. And certainly not the good parts. But -- but! -- I did try a new beer. One I'd never had before. A new brew from Dogfish Head combining India pale ale and grape must.
It was intriguing. Which is another way of saying I didn't especially like it. Strike one for novelty on a Saturday afternoon.
But I kept trying. Instead of flopping on the living room couch and watching TV, I read a book. In the living room. On the couch. Where I flopped. No, you shut up.
Soon, it was time for dinner. And, I reminded. myself, I have the world on a platter here in Boston. I could drive, or even walk, to restaurants serving fine dishes from dozens of ethnicities. Thai, Korean, American steakhouse, Brazilian steakhouse, Tibetan and French and Venezuelan were all a quick jaunt outside my door. Who needs pizza when the world is your oyster? Also, I could have oysters. But not on a pizza. And certainly not with grape must.
Of course, that's where my wild-eyed quest for something different hit another snag. I only had shorts on. And thanks to the untimely death of a household appliance -- and its replacement showing up this morning -- all of my jeans were soaking wet and spinning somewhere in the basement.
I could go out as-is... but it was pretty chilly out there.
I could wait the jeans out... but I was already hungry.
I could hustle right down the block... but who wants to eat out alone, anyway? And on a Saturday night? Bah.
So I resolved to order food online, as per the norm. BUT! Not pizza. I always wind up getting pizza on Saturday ballet nights, but not this time. Not now. Not here.
An hour later, after staring at menus from cuisines around the world and starting half a dozen orders I didn't have the heart or stomach to finish, I decided I wasn't in the mood for something rice-based. Or noodle-based. Or a steakhouse. Or a burrito. Or oysters.
Which left...? Pizza.
BUT! -- and I really put my foot down here, for serious true -- BUT not pizza from the same old place where we always get pizza. It's good, no doubt. And fast. And the delivery guy may someday ask us to be his kids' godparents. But not tonight. Tonight, the pizza comes from Somewhere Else™.
Twenty minutes later, I'd been through eight more menus, all offering pizza. And none looking as good as the safe, comforting old joint we know and love. But dammit, no. I said tonight would be different, and by god, it would be different. I finally settled on a nice pizzeria with good reviews and a killer 'deluxe' pie, and made the order. Satisfied that I'd successfully triumphed in carving out a scrap of novelty for myself, I shut down the computer.
And went to the living room, where I flopped on the couch and watched TV and drank a beer. This time, without grape must. A reliable old familiar beer.
Hey, one triumph at a time. Apparently.
I watched an hour-long show, zipping through commercials, and started a second. Somewhere in the middle of that episode, it occurred to me that I was really hungry. And the pizza should've been here already. I checked the order email, and indeed, it was estimated to arrive twenty minutes ago. Which was in the past, and I didn't see any pizzas floating around the living room between shows. So I called the place up:
Pizza Guy: Hey-o, Pizzeria here!
(I'd like to point out, in case there's any question, that the man on the other end of the line did, actually and literally, 'ay-yi-yi' at me. I'm not being cliche. Or culturally insensitive, if it's such a thing to say he said that if he didn't. Because he did.
I know. I didn't believe it at first, either. It's like being in a pizza cartoon.)
At this point, I had options. But what were they? Chew the guy out, and get maybe a discounted -- but who-knows-what-spat-on -- pizza? No, thanks. Tell him to forget the whole thing and hang up? I spent a damned hour making that order. Run down the street for sushi and miso? With these bare knees? Not happening.
It was at this point that my disbelief in the universe nudging me toward the routine, the easy and the status quo was lowest. Perhaps there really is some cosmic force out there, I thought -- some all-powerful, omniscient character willing me toward predictability, comfort and subjugation to familiar routine.
Also, maybe monkeys fly out my butt at night while I'm sleeping and stick their tails up my nose for fun.
I rejected all the "sign from above" mumbo-jumbo, told the guy to get my pizza here pronto, moved to the bedroom and went back to my book.
Because it may not be "adventurous", exactly. But at least it's different. A little. And I still get to drink beer. Now as long as there's no grape must on the pizza, things are going to be just fine. I'll get through another ballet night yet. Vive la difference!
|The Washed-Up Washer||
I mentioned a while back that my wife was out of town last week on family business. What I didn't mention is that on the Saturday before she left, our washing machine went kaput.
Well, maybe not "kaput", literally. I wasn't around to hear the exact sound it made when it died. But considering that I found it with fourteen pairs of waterlogged socks and underwear swimming in four inches of grayish water, I'm guessing it probably went more like "kersplat". Or "glugglugglug".
The point is, the washing machine went down. Hard. I was able to wring out and dry all of our unmentionables-I-just-totally-mentioned, but no more laundry was getting done in that washing box, ever. It being Saturday, there were loads of dirty clothes all basketed up and ready to go. Clearly, I had a problem.
I was told by the missus to get on it, and call the number on the little tag on the washer for help. Then she left. So at the very first available moment -- around noon on Tuesday, I believe -- I called in to the repair shop. They sent a guy last Friday morning. He told me to either give the washer a good burial or to slap an air filter on it and make it an aquarium, because it wasn't good for anything else any more.
"If, when I'm finished with them, the toilet isn't cracked and the blender's not on fire, then I'll be sorely disappointed."
(On the one hand, this was a great inconvenience. On the other, it's kind of nice to know you've gotten your full money's worth out of an item. If the guy comes in and fixes it with a new gasket and some WD-40, then maybe I haven't used the thing to its full potential.
But if he pulls a blanket over its head and gives me scrap-metal estimates for the shattered husk that remains, then I know I've used it. Really and truly USED it.
I take this attitude with all my household appliances. If, when I'm finished with them, the toilet isn't cracked and the blender's not on fire, then I'll be sorely disappointed.
Unless they get that way at the same party. Then I'll have to adjust my margarita recipe.)
When the missus returned on Sunday, our first order of business was to buy a replacement washer. We've bought a lot of things together over the years -- electronics, furniture, living spaces, semi-domesticated pets -- and usually one or both of us will do our homework up front. We'll hop online and pore over reviews or compare features or preview models in little magnifying-glass pictures until we know what we want.
That didn't happen this time. She didn't look, because she was on airplanes for much of the weekend. I didn't look, because it's a frigging washing machine, and unless it plays Pandora or has an extra hard drive or comes with an eight-button controller, I don't so much care about the details. It's a box where clothes go to get wet, before they go into the box to get dry, before they get dumped on the guest bed until ten minutes before company arrives, when we half-fold most of them and stuff the unmatched socks under the mattress. All it has to do is work. And not be an aquarium.
So we hustled out to one of the big home-supply stores an hour before closing, worried that we wouldn't have enough time to make a decision. This anxiety was for naught. We arrived, were promptly glommed onto by a salesman, and had the following exchange:
Salesman: So, what are you folks looking for today?
To be fair, there was a little more to it. I remember something about a "steam function" I'm never going to use, and lots of shiny buttons I probably won't be allowed to touch. But we were in and out of the store in ten minutes, and I'm not even positive it was a washing machine we bought. The delivery guy comes on Saturday, and if he brings a car washing machine or a golf ball washing machine or maybe an automated poodle washing machine, I won't be especially surprised. And I'll still stuff my underpants into it, and set the thing for "Extra Suds".
When it comes right down to it, I don't have a lot of choice at this point. Once I found out the old washer had spin-cycled its last, I made a beeline for my dresser. And counted out underpants. If you have enough underpants, you don't have to do laundry. Which in this case would avoid a trip to the laundromat and all sorts of uncomfortable college dorm flashbacks.
Happily, I had enough boxers to last just over a week. That gets me to Saturday -- with some measure of sacrifice. I'm nearly down to the 'novelty underwear' portion of the drawer; when the delivery guy carts our new washer in, I'll very likely be clad in a black silk number with red Valentine hearts patterned throughout. My fervent hope is that I still have clean pants at that point, so I can cover my heart-shaped shame.
On the other hand, he's a washer delivery guy. He probably sees those things every time he carts a unit in.
At any rate, this is shaping up to be a laundry weekend to end all laundry weekends. Both our undies reserves are gone. I've got a lime-green T-shirt I haven't worn in three years slated for Saturday, and I have to pray it fits. Even if it clashes with the hearts. The clean towel supply is holding, but heaven forbid we need an unscheduled shower. We'll have to dry off on Kleenex, or by rolling ourselves naked on the living room drapes. Which we told the neighbors we definitely wouldn't do any more. Not before sundown, anyway.
In short, we're anxiously awaiting our new favorite toy, which neither of us looked into and gave little thought to. I suppose the cliche thing to say is that you don't notice the little important things until they're gone. But what I really notice is the nine piles of dirty clothes that were never there before, and now block the way to the closet where my last few clean shirts are. If the new washer works, I'm throwing it a party. And if the dryer doesn't break before Monday, I'm buying it a fucking medal. Come hither, yon Saturday -- let the washing begin!
|State of the Blog: 2013||
It's one day short of the end of April, and there are milestones aplenty on the horizon for this site. I thought I'd take a quick moment tonight to mention a few. Because what the hell else do I have to write about, eh?
One day less than one year ago -- meaning, 364 days, or May 1, 2012 -- I started the Eek!Cards series of ecards that are mostly terrible ideas to send to people, and were probably equally awful ideas to have written down on the internet. With pictures.
Last night's Eek!Card was #265, and I've used them as placeholders on every day I don't post something else, which means in the 365 days (minus one day) since I started, I've also written 100 (minus one) blog posts. Not so shabby. And a nice round number.
(Minus one. Godammit.)
Of course, that's not all I've written in the past year. There were also 44 "Zolton" Facebook prank articles over at ZuG.com, whose plug was sadly pulled on April 1st. I've managed to salvage those -- and yes, I'm well aware that nobody asked me to, thank you very little -- and repost the entire series right here. So that's a thing.
"If my post count were the year, we'd all be driving space buggies and making out with aliens by now. Eat yer heart out, Commander Shepard."
(I also wrote the last of the series of Zolton Amazon prank articles, which came before the Facebook set, in early May of last year. Those are in the hopper, too, though I've got a long way to go in reformatting those. I'll keep you posted on the progress.
Whether you want me to or not. So nyah.)
Meanwhile, in six-and-a-half weeks, the blog turns a full ten years old. I won't quite make it to two thousand "main" posts in ten years -- this will be #1931, according to the software -- but with the article series, my old "100
Over 2150, even. If my post count were the year, we'd all be driving space buggies and making out with aliens by now. Eat yer heart out, Commander Shepard.
I'm not sure where I'll go from here, exactly. The ZuG work (minus cleanup) is kaput, and perhaps a year of dubiously useful ecards is enough. Or more than enough. To paraphrase a movie line, "you had enough at 'hello'."
I'll keep posting nonsense here, sure, but maybe not every day. Or maybe there's some new series of thing or other I can get into. I tweeted a lot for a few weeks; that's a lot of fun. I could cross-post from a fake Twitter account pretending to be Ned Flanders' mustache. Or maybe I'll start vlogging humorous interpretive dances based on Fawlty Towers episodes.
Also, I'm open to suggestions. Because those ideas are idiots.
At any rate, there's a lot going on. At least, a lot has gone on, and will no doubt continue to do so. When and how often and why -- for the love of god, whyyyyyyyy? -- I can't really say. Tune in and see. We'll keep the blog on for ya.
|Eek!Cards #265: Grandma, What's a GeoCities?||
(The 'Eek!Cards' explan.)
|A Man, a Fan and No Plan||
I have fans.
Not fans of my writing. Obviously.
I'm talking about ceiling fans. In the condo my wife and I share, there are no less than three ceiling fans -- one each in the living room, spare bedroom and main bedroom. These fans are all from the same manufacturer, appear to be the same model, and presumably were installed all at the same time by one of the previous owners.
So naturally, they all behave wildly differently. Because why wouldn't they?
The living room fan, I suspect, works properly. It has a 'low' speed which is noticeable, but only mildly effective. There's also a 'medium', which is fairly refreshing, and a 'high', which feels -- and often sounds -- as though a military-grade helicopter is preparing to land on the sofa. I like 'high'. 'High' is good.
"Standing under this thing is like being strapped to the cage of a bayou fanboat flying through a blender set to 'super-frappe'."
The fan in the guest bedroom doesn't have these speeds. Maybe it once had these speeds; I'll probably never know. Mostly, it doesn't have any speeds at all, and instead beeps rather unhelpfully at you when you press the button on the wall that should cycle the fan. If you're a bit more forceful -- and diligent and lucky -- with it, the beeps may finally give way to the fan's insanely fast speed setting, which makes the helicopter thing look like a goddamned pinwheel. Standing under this thing is like being strapped to the cage of a bayou fanboat flying through a blender set to 'super-frappe'.
I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm just telling you the fan speed.
The fan in the main bedroom -- our bedroom -- is more like the first, only if it had gotten a good talking-to from Eeyore for the last several years. On 'low' speed, the fan blades can be tracked by the naked eye. Or a calendar. 'Medium' is something akin to a sane person's 'low', and 'high' is fine, I suppose, but it doesn't exactly evoke ridiculous metaphors of dangerous vehicles or overpowered blending devices. So what is it good for, really?
I bring up these fans and their grossly unpredictable behavior to tell you this: as I mentioned earlier, my wife is out of town this week, dealing with some family business. Like a lot of couples, the two of us have very different internal thermostats -- she likes things warm and toasty, while I'm more comfortable in chillier weather. Or air conditioning. Or blenders. And both our preferences are strongest when we're least able to enjoy our optimal temperatures -- i.e., when we're sleeping.
As a good and reasonable couple, we like to compromise when it comes to these sorts of things, so that no one will ever get what they want or be truly happy or fulfilled in life. It's just what we do. We're in wuv.
So the fan in the bedroom comes with hard and fast rules for usage. When she goes to bed -- usually a bit earlier than I do -- the fan stays off. When I join, I may turn the fan on, but only on 'low' -- which is just frigging pointless -- or 'medium'. Which is basically 'low', but still counts as a compromise because it's not 'high'. Which is really 'medium', in fake-o 'high' clothing.
When my wife gets up -- always before I do -- she turns the fan off, or at least down a notch. We make exceptions, of course -- when the temps are eighty-plus, all the fans might be going, and on days we break ninety, she'll even turn them up herself. Or would, if I weren't sitting on a pile of ice cubes, willing them to spin faster. But always in the morning, she turns the fan down.
But then there's the other exception, which I already mentioned. When she's out of town, all bets are off. So you can bet your sweaty bedsheets that bedroom fan has been on high every night this week. When I'm ready for shuteye, I shuffle to the switch, give it a quick punch, and hear the oh-so-sweet triple beep that tells me the fan's about to take off:
*brrrrttt brrrrttt brrrrttt*!!
If I were to hit the fan again, I'd get two beeps and 'medium'; another touch and it's one beep and 'super-slo-mo turtle' speed, for some reason. Those mean nothing to me. I'm strictly here for 'high'.
I also mentioned that the missus sometimes turns the fan off or down when she wakes up. So I'm used to hearing these beeps in the wee morning hours, when she's up -- and presumably chilly -- and I'm still snuggled under the covers. So my brain didn't immediately skip a snore this morning, when in a hazy half-awake stupor I distinctly heard:
Rather, it took a few seconds to realize: "Hey. Stupid. Your wife didn't turn the fan down. She's a thousand miles away, fraternizing with your in-laws, bless her little heart."
In the thick of my grog, it was another tick or two before it occurred to me that the switch for controlling the fan was just past the foot of the bed, mere inches from my feet.
Finally coming to, my synapses locked into place with the question, "WHO THE SHIT IS STANDING IN MY BEDROOM, TURNING DOWN MY FAN?!?"
The rest of my body wasn't quite as quick to catch up, and I learned that in the "fight or flight" response, there's a third alternative, "flop headfirst onto the floor".
(Come to think of it, it's odd that instinct would have survived long enough to get to me. I imagine most cavemen with the 'flop on floor' gene would have been eaten by a saber-toothed something-or-other pretty early on.)
I managed to extricate myself far enough from the covers and shame to peer over the mattress, where I saw... nothing. I tiptoed into the hallway, nearsighted like a Magoo without my contacts -- truly, I'm farting in the face of evolution with every minute I manage to survive -- and again found nothing. I retreated to the bathroom and put my eyes in, craning to listen for any floor creak or door slam an intruder might make. Nada.
So I did a perimeter check, like any sane person alone in a house would do. Closets. Behind shower curtains. Under beds. And eventually, the truth became clear. There was no one in the condo but me. So I schlepped back to the bedroom, wondering if I'd only dream-heard the beeps -- but the fan seemed slower than it should be. I pressed the button once, which would have taken it from 'three-beep speed' to 'two-beep speed', if it were all a bad dream. Instead:
I came to the only logical conclusion. The fan, after four years of turning up in the evening and down in the morning, has gotten used to the routine. This fan obviously comes with some rudimentary artificial intelligence -- probably the same sappy bit that Eeyore-jacked the speeds in the first place -- and it's accustomed to routine. So in the morning, by god, come hell, high water or temporary spousal displacement, that fan speed was coming down. Hard.
And in the process, I almost shat my own bed this morning. Which is something I'd rather be alone in the condo for, I suppose, but still not on my "list of things to do while the wife is away". Also not on that list? "Sweep the place for home invaders", "battle a depressed OCD-riddled AI module" or "exorcise a poltergeist that apparently has control of large metal blades that spin above my testicles while I'm sleeping". Which is the other possibility, and I'm not even going to go there.
I mean, what's the point, really? Even if I knew how to fix that, it would just throw the holy water back in my face. It's a ceiling fan, for crissakes. If that's the problem, the thing can stay possessed, for all I care.
Just as long as it stays on high until morning. I can live with that. At least until the wife gets home. One compromise at a time, you know?
|Eek!Cards #264: How Would You Feel About Nipples McCrotch?||
(The 'Eek!Cards' explan.)
|Eek!Cards #263: You've Got Some Eyeliner on Your... Well, Everything||
(The 'Eek!Cards' explan.)
|Eek!Cards #262: You Ty-D-Bol Me Over||
(The 'Eek!Cards' explan.)
|Survival of the Week||
I'm flying solo this week. The missus left this weekend to deal with some family business, and won't be back until Sunday. That's given me two days -- to date, with five more coming -- to hold down the fort and fend for myself.
So far, I'm managing. But it's pretty strange.
My wife and I have been together for approximately forever. We met in college, back in the Cenezoic Era, and started "officially" dating -- as though we registered with the International Going Steady Commission or something -- on the same day the very first web page was written.
(According to Wikipedia. No word on whether that page included blinking text, a tiled cat background and a note from Tom the MySpace guy. But it probably did.)
Since the mid-nineties sometime, we've been sharing a home. First, an apartment. Then another apartment. Then a house. Now a condo. And while we've been physically apart for a few days here and there, this week is unique for a couple of reasons.
First, it's a full week. Neither of us has ever traveled much for work, so neither of us is away for a week or more very often. I did graduate college two years ahead -- quite rudely, I've been told, damn my age -- and lived in Pittsburgh a while before she caught up, but that was before we'd lived together at all. Depending on which of the RAs you happen to talk to.
I also spent a few months here in Boston in 1999, when I was able to move for work before she lined up her plans here. But that was a transition. I was here alone in temporary housing, living from a suitcase and a beer fridge. There was no routine being interrupted; everything was new, and I was struggling to find my feet, my center and a new favorite pizza joint.
Now, we've been cohabitated for years. We've got a system. And while we've spent a few days traveling separately now and then, it's usually over a holiday. In other words, a time when habits and patterns are broken already. If circumstances -- usually a grave dog illness, bless our departed furball's fuzzy little heart -- had me at my family's without my wife, then I was already out of my element. Meaning off my couch and drinking someone else's beer. Among other things. And if my wife was with her folks while I stayed behind, it was still Christmastime. No work. No routine. And mostly, no pants. Ho ho ho.
But this is different. It's a 'normal' work week for me, but I've got the condo to myself. The wife is family-timing -- and while the dog is technically still here, she's now in an urn on the spare bedroom shelf. Which is somewhat less company, but an enormously lower risk that the couch will get peed on any time in the next five days. It's a trade off.
Of course, the thing I'm discovering is how many little things my wife -- or possibly the dog, though I have my doubts -- takes care of during our usual weekly schedule. Sure, I can handle the obvious things -- I've been trained on how to run the dishwasher, and where the extra toilet paper lives, and I already do my own laundry. Also, "gadget stuff" is my department, so I'm a pro with the various computers, keypads and remote controls around the joint. And I order a mean pepperoni pizza.
"For instance, did you know that some guy from the government comes around every weekday to put mail in the mailbox?"
So what's left, I thought. What the hell else would a one-week bachelor need?
I'd be surprised, apparently. For instance, did you know that some guy from the government comes around every weekday to put mail in the mailbox? I was unaware of this. Every so often, junk catalogs and bills and takeout menus would show up on our dining room table -- but I never knew how they got there. I never asked. They just showed up, and mostly sat for a few days and then somehow got processed away again. It's been sort of a mystery to me, frankly. Nobody sends me mail, and I pay the bills I know about online. Outside of a misaddressed envelope of cash or a Vicky's Secret lingerie blowout, I can't imagine what that heaping pile of paper is good for, anyway. But apparently, it's my job to go retrieve it from the mailbox and ignore it on the table. Through Saturday, at least. What an odd little dance.
Also, while I do a lot of the laundry, that sometimes entails just the washing and drying and carting around of the clothes. Let's be fair -- once dirty clothes have been made clean and returned to the condo, they're really not 'laundry' any more. Rather, they're 'a pile of fresh clothes and linens' that probably get put away somewhere -- but if they're not my boxers or T-shirts, then I have no idea where. And my 'laundry hat' doesn't know, either.
So I'm now learning something else. My wife is fond of telling me that "those towels aren't going to fold themselves". Which has always seemed irrelevant to me, since I'm the do-the-laundry guy and not the fold-the-lazy-stupid-towels guy. And eventually, so far as I could tell, those towels do fold themselves, and put themselves away in a closet somewhere, probably with the spare sheets and fuzzy toilet seat covers that no one lets me use.
But I'm starting to think my wife has had something to do with the process all along. Because I dumped a load of towels off in the spare bedroom yesterday, and damned if they have not folded their shiftless selves into neat little squares yet. They just lie there, freeloading. Makes me not feel so bad about rubbing my junk on them after a shower.
I'm sure things will get worse before they get better. So far, I've got clean underpants, enough beer and nothing in the place has broken off, shattered or exploded. But it's only a matter of time. And I've got five more days to go. Keep those pepperoni pies coming.
|Eek!Cards #261: Plenty of Room on Mars, I'm Just Saying||
(The 'Eek!Cards' explan.)
|Eek!Cards #260: The Chess King Says You're Deported||
(The 'Eek!Cards' explan.)
|Eek!Cards #259: Love, Post-Apocalyptically||
(The 'Eek!Cards' explan.)