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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Pest Control in the 21st Century

As previously mentioned, I had a visit on Friday with a pest control professional named Morris, who it so happens is a fellow member of a business organization.  When he first walked in, I was like, are you here to see whether or not we’re happy with your service?  Because we are (short meeting).  He said no, I’m here to figure out how rodents are getting into your storage room on the 2nd floor. 

Backing up for a day, we had already had a technician out on Thursday to  put traps in this room, because an employee had spotted a…rodent.  I thought for sure it would be a rat, because, well, it’s Florida.  We have a lot of rats.   Morris informed me that most rats in our area are roof rats, but we also have a few Norway rats. Don’t delude yourself that you can ever be clean and sanitary enough to never see a rat or a mouse.  They are both smarter than you are, and highly motivated.  It turned out to be a measly little mouse.  The problem with both rats and mice is, that if you see one, there are a hundred more waiting in the wings. 

I had an employee conduct Morris to the storage room.  He returned to say that there were gaps under the doors of the room big enough to drive a truck through, which technically means, big enough for a rat.  Mice can flatten themselves enough to get through amazingly slim spaces.  Rats can’t, because their heads are too big. 

Morris and I then talked for at least an hour. The topics included never using poison.  (Morris:  they do go back to the nest to die, and if the nest is in your wall, you will be moving out for at least two months.)  Also never using glue traps.  In a different city I had a pest control company come out for mice.  They put out glue traps and the next morning, one mouse had chewed through its leg, and another one had gotten its face stuck in the glue.  I made them come back and remove every single glue trap.  (Morris:  Plus, you really don’t want to use glue traps for rats.  If the trap catches them on  a foot or on the tail, they are strong enough carry it off. )  Glad we got that settled. 

We told some more rat stories, but Morris had the best one.  He said that he got a call from a customer who said strange things were happening in her house.  One morning, she woke up and the peppermints she had in a dish on her coffee table were gone–except for the plastic wrappers.  Her daughter, who was living with her and had had previous substance abuse problems, completely denied getting up in the middle of the night and eating all the peppermints and leaving the wrappers.  But there were other ominous signs.  A couple of gold chains were missing from the top of the dresser in the mother’s bedroom.  (Was the daughter stealing them?)

Morris goes there to investigate and sees telltale droppings on the coffee table and the dresser.  It was a pack rat.  When they finally found its nest, there was a big pile of uneaten peppermints, a couple of necklaces, and various other pretty shiny things.  Who know there was actually such a thing as a pack rat?  Who knew there were so many species of rats? 

But…But…It Was An Accident!

Some clearly deluded people (such as me, or at least the Me of the past) are under the impression that if you are in an auto accident which isn’t your fault, it will not affect your auto insurance premiums.  Well, not exactly.  It sort of depends on where you live among other things.  So a good place not to live, auto-insurance wise, is New Orleans.  At the time, home of the drive-through daiquiri shop and getting a driver’s license at 15 years old without taking driver’s education. 

There must be proof that the accident was not your fault, in the form of the other guy getting a ticket.  If that doesn’t happen, then you are considered equally at fault, regardless of the circumstances. 

So here is my auto accident history, starting in 1993, in New Orleans.  I was crossing a major street (Elysian Fields) from a side street (Burgundy), where there is no traffic light, when a car going about 900 mph slammed into the rear driver’s side of my Toyota Corolla.  You kind of have to know the terrain.  The start of Elysian Fields is at the end of the French Quarter when Decatur Street makes a sharp curve and turns into Elysian Fields.  You cannot drive fast in the French Quarter for numerous reasons, so here’s what happens:  as soon people make that curve they put the accelerator to the floor.  He was not there when I started across the street.  He was driving a tank.  Specifically, a Buick Park Avenue, circa 1979.  My car spun around all four lanes three or four times, then crashed head first into a tree.  I was a little stunned (but not dead).  I got a ticket, for failure to yield the right of way.  I said, But…But…!  He was speeding!  The officer said, I didn’t see it.  So, here’s some advice. If you’re going to have an auto accident, arrange for it to be in full view of a police officer.  Unless you’re in New Orleans, where that doesn’t count, because the next accident I had was in front of a police officer.

Well, not technically, according to him, because his back was turned.  In this case I was making a left turn onto a side street from Poydras St. and my light was green.  A woman coming down Poydras ran the red light and smashed into the passenger side of my (new) Saturn.  As luck would have it (or not) there had been an accident in that very same intersection and there was a police officer right there, taking a report from one of the parties involved in the previous accident.  When my accident occurred there was a pedestrian she almost hit first.  He stopped long enough to give me his name, address, and phone number, but he was in a hurry.  When the police officer began to write the report, the woman denied running the red light.  I said, I have a witness!  The officer said, Well, he isn’t here now, is he?  In this case, no one got a ticket (you know, since he didn’t see it).  While he could not be bothered, the insurance companies could be bothered and the end result was that her insurance co. quietly paid to repair my car. 

Unfortunately, only a couple of weeks later I was crossing Poydras again (!) and a guy in a Camaro clipped the front end of my car.  We stopped and exchanged insurance info, and did not call the police.  (What, after all, would be the point?) My insurance company promptly cancelled my insurance, and for three years I had to get car insurance from Lloyd’s of London.  I thought they were the people who insured things like Marilyn Monroe’s breasts.  But no–for real, they are the insurer of last resort for all sorts of things. 

My next…and last…accident was in 1996.  I was peacefully sitting in the left turn lane at a traffic light when an elderly guy crosses three lanes of traffic from my right and bashes into the right rear of my car.  I didn’t even know what had happened, because…wait for it…I didn’t see it.  The guy was really confused.  He didn’t know what had happened either.  My impression is that he wanted his car to be where my car was, and the fact that my car was already there was magically erased from his perception. 

But this was Iowa, not Louisiana, and a couple in another car stopped and stayed until the police came.  We all pulled into the parking lot of a pharmacy, where the elderly guy and his wife had pulled out of in the first place.  The whole time we were waiting for the police to arrive, the wife was quietly sobbing and saying I’m so sorry.  The only reason we’re out is that my husband needed his medication.  I and the witnesses all took turns putting an arm around her telling her it would be okay.  The poor little thing. When the police arrived, they asked the guy what happened and he couldn’t remember.  They said, well these other people say you drove into another car (mine).  He said, well, that could be true, I just don’t know.  Oh no.  It was so sad. 

Within a few days, his insurance company called me and said, how much do you want us to write the check for? That was sad too.   

The occasion for all this is that today I saw an ad for Nationwide auto insurance and their “vanishing deductible” plan.  If you are a safe driver (no accidents, no moving violations) you can sign up for this plan and every year for five years, your deductible goes down by $100.  Except your premium goes up.  So you are paying for this marvelous service.  And probably more than $100 a year.  Very cute.  Are we just all idiots?  Don’t answer that. 


One Bluetooth, Two Bluetooths, Three Blueteeth?

Today’s pressing question was, what is the plural of “Bluetooth”?  I’ll spare you the pain of looking it up for yourself (although you would have a lot of fun doing it).  The real answer is, there isn’t one.  If you absolutely demand a plural, the answer is “Bluetooth devices”.  Bluetooth is a kind of technology.  Thus you can have a Bluetooth ear bud, a Bluetooth headset, etc.  In essence, Bluetooth is an adjective. 

So, can an adjective have a plural?  I don’t know why not.  We’ve turned the brand name “Kleenex” into a plural.  We’ve turned the brand names Fed Ex and Google into verbs.  Why can’t we make an adjective into a plural?  No wonder the OED people go nuts about what they should and should not include in their revised editions. 

There are two schools of thought there.  One of them is that the OED should be a guide to speaking “proper” English.  Oh no.  Please don’t act like you’re from France. 

The other school of thought is that a dictionary should help people understand  the language as it is actually used.  So, for example, if you are from Kuwait, and you want to understand what FYI or OMG means, you should be able to look it up in the dictionary.  Hello?  Duh. 

All languages are fluid, and change with usage by actual people who use that language, unless you live in France where they haven’t quite grasped that concept.

The occasion for this thought was that yesterday I had a visit from a pest control person who was wearing a Bluetooth device on his ear.  I hate that.  I never wear mine at work, and I forbid my employees from doing so.  Because we are in the customer service biz, and to me, Bluetooth looks like you are just waiting for something more interesting to happen.  My corporate office has not caught up to this yet, and they need to.  The wheels of corporate HR departments turn slowly.  It took them about 10 years to remove the prohibition against male employees wearing earrings from the employee handbook.  I used to get dinged for this regularly by my bosses, and I would say, I’m not enforcing that.  It’s discriminatory.  You just have to be patient enough for HR to get there too.  And try not to get fired before that happens. 

But back to Bluetooth devices.  Morris the pest control guy was wearing one, and he at some point in the middle of a conversation said “Answer”.  I was so startled, because I couldn’t figure out what “Answer” had to do with our discussion.  Okay, then I remembered.  The difference between me and my employees wearing a Bluetooth is that Morris travels around all day in his little yellow truck.  He needs to be in touch with his office and his customers.  I’m okay with that. 

He talked to his office about scheduling rodent proofing for our problematic storage room.  Rodents meaning rats, mice, and squirrels. And they called him back a few times. 

We caught a mouse in the storage room.  OMG.  Stop the presses. 


And The Saga Continues…

Fakesister warned me that everything would take four times longer.  Well, not only that, but there is a lot of planning required, just to move from one place to another.  Much less accomplish a task. You’d think I decided to build a replica of the Eiffel Tower out of popsicle sticks, and I had to bring the popsicle sticks to the building site one at a time.

There is no longer any dashing in my world.  No waking up late and dashing to make it to work on time.  No dashing.

I realized the the things I needed most were socks and washcloths.  I won’t be wearing pantyhose or taking showers for a long time yet.

Today I needed to do laundry.  OMG.  What an ordeal.  How to get from the couch to the washing machine.  How to get the laundry to the washing machine (answer, stuff it in a plastic grocery bag and drape it from your arm).  You can’t do much laundry at one time that way.

As if that weren’t enough, I picked up my dog from the kennel on Wednesday and by Friday, he was seriously ill.  Kennel cough, I think.  I was like, No.  You can’t die while I’m so incapacitated.  Last night I dragged him on a leash into the same room I was in.  I said, if you die tonight, it will be right beside me.  Kennel cough is rarely fatal, but it can be.  I was so scared.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

British Rules

For Vanessa Chapman.  Besides the spelling, I also liked the rules about the labeling of American beer and taxes being backdated to 1776.

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II…………..

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

(You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ‘like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!