Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vacuum Man Part Deux

I forgot to tell you! I had another Vacuum Man Experience this week!

You may remember my first nightmarish Vacuum Man incident. Happened a year ago in June as a matter of fact. I remember because I was on vacation for my son's wedding, came back and wanted to get my vacuum cleaner cleaned. Not only did the brute try to sell me an overpriced model that he fixed up, and became churlish and rude when I wasn't interested, he then tried to overcharge me for a cleaning. I walked out of there, threw my vacuum cleaner in the trash and bought one at Walmart for less than what the pig was going to charge me to clean it. Jerk.

I've been on my own a while and feel really independent when I do man-tasks around the house. Like changing a lightbulb, tightening a loose screw, using WD-40 on a squeaky hinge, or building a book shelf. (I tried changing my's too hard) However, though I know the difference between a phillips-head screwdriver and a regular screwdriver - if I can't find either in the house? I'm feminine enough to use a knife; butter or steak depending on the job, and use a shoe to hammer something. Flexibility and ingenuity ~ thy name is woman.

Several weeks ago, I went on a cleaning jag. I was a demon. Feels good to do spring cleaning, I thank God that spring comes but once a year, because dang, I was tired at the end of it. Before my enthusiasm ran out I had wanted to shampoo my rugs. They were in dire need and I own my own rug cleaner. Worked like a dream when my dog was sick last year.

Anyway, as I began washing the rugs, the telltale odor of bad belt wafted up, nor would the machine suck up water. Crap. No extra belts in the house, so I went on line and ordered belts. Two of them...I like to be prepared. I've replaced vacuum belts before (a manly task I've become rather good at) hard could it be?

Hard. Pain in the neck hard. But I did it! Another guy-type task mastered, thought I. HUZZAH! Eagerly, I put hot water in the well, added the nice smelling cleaner, turned the machine on...and...the telltale odor of bad belt wafted up. nor would it suck up water. Crap. I guess there are some jobs that need mannin'.

Now, you can bet money that I wasn't going to shame myself and bring my rug cleaner to that pig of a human in Leesburg. There is a vacuum repair shop in my town. I was prescient enough to call them before going in.

"I have a Bissell Rug cleaner that requires a new pump belt. How much does that cost?"


"I already have a new belt; what will you charge me if I provide the part?"


"What will you charge me if I don't bring the belt in?"


Daaaaaang Baby. Can't bea that! So I brought in my cleaner. I had to maneuver around the vacuum cleaners standing guard, little soldiers barring my way into the shop. My little friend came out from the back room where he was on line, possibly taking a class in rug cleaning repair. Vacuum-ie A Deux began.

"This needs a new pump belt. May I drop it off?"

"How do you like that brand?"

No, no no no no. This was not happening. "I like it fine. It's not that old. It's just that the pump belt broke and I tried to fix it and it broke again." A Deux didn't have to say a thing; his body language simply oooozed, poor female purchasing crap product. We must sell her a superior machine!

"Ah, well, I was just saying, because I have a model here," as he came out from behind the counter, maneuvering around his electric sentinels, "that you can easily clean afterward, it has, bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah..." My ears started to burn. No! No! No! Nononononono. I realized that it was the mode of their kind, the way of their folk.

Maybe it's one of the courses they take at vacuum cleanery school, "Upsell 101; How to Spot a Mark".

"What's it cost?" I'm a jerk enough to want to offer him hope in the form of a stupid woman, just so I could rip it back again quickly. Of course, if it was for $20, I'd buy it. I might look stupid and I might not be able to do math so well, but I'm no dummy.

"Only $379.00 and it's brand new as you can see..."

"No!" I tried not to shriek it, "No, no. I only bought mine a year and a half ago and it works really well. And I don't want to spend $400. Let's just fix the belt on mine," and because I felt a little badly I added, "but I'll keep that in mind in case I need another one someday."

He was clearly disappointed. Stage 2 started. This must be from the "Screw The Bitch" class.

"How much will this cost?"


My head snapped up, "What? I called you and you said $39.95"

"Oh, well," he was nervous, he had not the antagonistic integrity of my friend from last year, "parts, labor..." he trailed off.

"But I called you and you said $39.95. I told you I had the belt and you told me it would still be $39.95. I asked how much without the belt and you said $39.95."

Sweat beads formed on his upper lip. "You can bring the belt in and I'll only charge you $39.95"

"I would have brought it in had you told me that on the phone. Never mind. I need to get it fixed."

Thus concluded our transaction. I picked the cleaner up today. I haven't tried it out yet. If you don't hear from me again, you'll know it had a bomb in it and my sweatlippy little friend did it. You'll know where to send the cops.

Before you have him arrested though? Pretend you want to buy the $400 rug cleaner. Make him demo it and everything, will you? Take it up to the counter. Make like you are taking out your credit card; then have Johnny Law take him away. For me?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Alt E

Drove in to work yesterday and was enchanted...yes...enchanted is the right the music on the alternative channel on my Sirius radio. More on that later.

But for right now, I thought I'd offer up something fun. It's pretty 80s.

Hockey Monkey by the Zambonis. It's no Atreyu, but I like it!

Hockey Monkey - The Zambonis featuring James Kochalka Superstar

all the scientists are running around
looking for the monkey but he can't be found
cause he's down by the pond playing hockey with the kids

and all the mothers are running around
looking for their children but they can't be found
cause they're down by the pond playing hockey with the monkey

and its 1..2..3.. the kids love the monkey and
4..5..6.. the monkey's got a hockey stick
7..8..9.. havin a good time yeaaaa

national guard is running around
looking for the monkey but he can't be found
cause he's down by the pond playin hockey with the kids

and all the teachers are running around
looking for the children but they can't be found
cause their down by the pond playin hockey with the monkey

and its 1..2..3.. the kids love the monkey and
4..5..6.. the monkey's got a hockey stick
7..8..9.. havin a good time yeaaaa

it's 1..2..3.. the kids love the monkey and
4..5..6.. the monkey's got a hockey stick
7..8..9.. havin a good time yeaaaaaaaaa

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

“The waste in the human existence is waiting.”

So spake Dr. Oxley from the most recent Indiana Jones film. Not a verbatim quote, dammit, I tried to remember it all the way home, but sadly I’ve lost it. So the above was the best I could do. Contrary to some of the more prominent reviews I’ve read I really enjoyed it. There was a lot to enjoy!

We were treated to numerous shout outs to the earlier films; greeted as usual in the beginning of the “Paramount Mountain”; the iconic Indiana Jones “shadow”, a classroom at “Marshall College”, snakes, and the lovely lovely Karen Allen (yeah yeah, I know, she was only in the first movie, but she was my favorite female partner for Jones and I couldn’t wait to see her again) I was touched to see Dr. Marcus Brody’s image featured a few times in the film – once as a statue and I could have sworn I saw a painting in his likeness early on in a hallway at university. I might be wrong on that one. Oh, but I missed Sean Connery. He was my favorite pairing for Indy, male or female, of all time.

Cate Blanchett – fabulous.

I kept waiting for a break in the action, but didn’t get one. We went right from one chase scene and can’t-possibly-get-out-of-this-situation-alive to another. Guys may like that, I like to take the occasional breather. Missed the use of the whip more…and they are obviously going to put a sword in LaBeouf’s hands if they make a fifth in the series.

I particularly liked that they didn’t pander to the younger Shia LaBeouf audience…seems to be the fashion in movie making these days to make the younger generation appear wiser than the bumbling older generation – a la “Transformers” and “Disturbia” – the other two LaBeouf movies I’ve seen recently. The kid had moxie and gumption but he was not the world weary archaeologist who has seen more destruction and pounded more faces in with his fist than the kid had opportunities to comb his hair. No. They pandered to me…the audience who first cheered Indy on in 1981.

What am I saying, they made the adults look like idiots when I was a kid and I loved it. Because adults were idiots when I was a kid. We are much smarter these days.

Anyway, I’m not giving out any spoilers, just telling you that if you loved the first three, you will enjoy the next in the series. It was delightful; the premise was a little hinky for me and without doubt the ending ripped right out of the back of the 1998 XFiles movie script, but I’m a forgiving person.

But yeah, “The waste in the human existence is the waiting.” I couldn't help thinking that that was Lucas, Spielberg and Ford nodding to us again, thanking us for waiting. We waited for a long time. Glad he’s back.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


A good day today. The weather is in the mid 70s in Northern VA. I was up early as usual; walked my dog, as usual, showered, as usual, went to church - - - whoa! Not usual! But it was flea market day; all proceeds going toward our new church and I was to help set up and man the "Catholic Table".

A goooood flea market by the way. They don't sell junk. Well, maybe some junk, but some exquisite furniture. I'll tell you right now, Father is quite the salesman - offered to sell a television cabinet to me for half price - it was marked $50, he'd give it to me for $25. Had it fit in my car and/or living room, I'd have bought it. Just because he's my priest. :) I saw probably 16 strollers - in nearly new condition, television sets, lamps, microwaves, electronics...but my favorite was the book aisle. Last year, I bought 2 bags full of books - every Nicholas Sparks book I could find for my daughter and some fine reading for me, particularly a book on my hero Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. This year I was more conservative; I only spent $10 in books, Shakespeare's complete works; two biographies; and huzzah! "From the Angel's Blackboard"...the best of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen! Whoooo! SCORE!

Manning the Catholic Table is fun; everything was free, rosaries, medals, books, magnets, prayer cards. One of the ladies would advertise "FREE RELIGIOUS ARTICLES!" I was a little more sly; "We're in the shade!" And as they got closer I'd move in for the kill; "Everything on the table is for free! FREEEEE" I have no shame.

I was finished by 10:30 am, came home. I could have cleaned, but didn't want to spoil a fine day and decided to start watching my new k-drama (new to me, old to South Korea) "Legend / The Story of the First King's Four Gods" starring Bae Yong Joon; immensely popular in Asia for a number of projects, not the least of which is "Winter Sonata". I'll write more about it later; starting a little slow for me ~ those Koreans sure like to take it back - this one started 2000 years before the main characters were born, there's reincarnation, Turtle, Phoenix, Dragon and Tiger guardians, lots of biblical imagery, it's pretty loaded. But later, later.

I just got back from confession and feeling pretty good. I could clean...but don't want to spoil a fine evening. Maybe in a a bit.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I ranted. I railed. I simmered. I hated. No, sorry, to clarify; I REEEEEALLLLLY didn't like. There was perverseness because my mood amused me. I was in a foul mood and I wasn't going to do a thing to pull myself out of it. Colleagues from the Layoff Job will recall the "Mood Elevator" and our attempts to move up to the next floor. I was on the surly bitch floor and got off. I had no plans to get back on and push the up button.

I promised you though that I would go do 30 minutes in the gym. I was true to my word. I found that telling myself I'm only committed to 30 minutes gets me in the gym. 30 minutes is as long as an episode of "Frasier", and slightly less lengthy as an episode of "Coffee Prince". I can get my butt off the couch for 30 minutes and walk.

I timed my exercise to coincide with Sam Waterston's appearance on "Law & Order". I went in knowing that I'd watch Sam until the end, which meant an extra five minutes. Good for me!!

28.46 minutes into my treadmillinery an older woman came in and smiled and climbed onto the stationary bicycle. "Hi! You're pretty regular coming in here every day! How much have you lost?"

Weeeeellllll, crap. Several things recommended themselves to my mind; #1) Technically, I have a minute and fifteen seconds to go, and she obviously wants to talk; and then right behind that and more urgently; #2) how does she know how often I come in here? Does she live in my building? Chick send her in? WTF??

I smiled at her. "Not enough!" I answered jovially. To indicate I had no leanings of a social nature, I kept trying to watch sweet sweet Sam Waterston. My new friend laughed. "Well, I've lost 82 pounds!" I don't care who you are, that catches your attention, one is forced to respond.

"Wow! Good for you!", I replied. I'm almost done. I looked at my timer. 37 seconds to go. Would she be offended if I got off the machine and left? I could do it tactfully. She continued.

"No, well, I didn't lose it a good way like you. I got cancer and I don't want you to lose it like that." Suzzannah went on to tell me she had first been diagnosed with colon cancer. It had spread to her stomach, thyroid, pancreas and most recently it was in her liver. She's starting chemo again next week. Her doctor tells her to go in and get some exercise, but she's just too tired tonight. Still she came in.

We talked for a while. In fact, I did 52 minutes on the treadmill tonight while getting to know Suzannah. 69 years old from France, married twice, and almost a third time, 4 children: all amazingly accomplished, whose grandmother worked for Coco Chanel. Suzzannah used to live near Stevie Nicks in Arizona. She has had compatriots in illness who took their own lives because of their cancer. She empathized but said "This is not a dress rehearsal, it's the only life you get". She was too tired to keep going on the stationary bike, and yet she encouraged me to keep coming back, keep smiling, and keep walking.

And I had the temerity to whine yesterday for no reason. I'm ashamed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hateful Again

Hateful again today, with no apparent hormonal or chemical origin, so I’m thinking that it must be some hidden satanic imp poking at a fold in my brain tissue causing me to hate. Let me revise slightly; it’s not really hate, I can’t hate. But I REEEEEEEEALLLLLLLY don’t like anyone or anything today, and ‘hate’ is easier to type than ‘REEEEEEEEALLLLLLLY don’t like’.

Earlier this week I had a pervasive sense of ennui. I had just gotten back from a trip to upstate NY to see my son graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; a New Ivy, thank you very much. It was a wonderful but busy weekend and I was exhausted.

I told a friend this week that I decided Ennui will be an entity for me ~ and that she's a woman. She starts off all nice, stroking my hair, telling me to take care of myself, urging me to take it easy, to relax. She pours me a glass of wine. Then when I listen to her, she makes me eat a bacon fat sandwich dressed with a stick of butter for dinner washing it all down with a quart of vegetable oil. She's a bitch, is Ennui. My friend encouraged me to go to the gym, which I did and I hated, was glad when it was over, but was glad I did it.

Being a woman, I don’t think Ennui appreciated being ignored. She called to the previously mentioned minions and instructed them to start poking my brain releasing toxins. Foul inevitably set in. So I reached out to a few people who said that they were feeling ugly today as well. I read my horoscope:
"You might feel like your emotions are being marginalized today by someone who is usually very supportive. Others could be standing in your way now, yet it would be counter-productive to unleash your pent-up frustrations at them. Even if you successfully restrain your anger, you may just end up hotter under the collar. Try to keep your energy moving all day by staying busy with your work"
…and noted that my biorhythms were all crashing down together. Not that I really pay those things any mind, but I found it interesting that my petulance corresponded with the downswing in my biorhythms and that even the stars were against me. Doomed I tell you, doomed.

Guest Blogger made me laugh. We reminisced briefly about a strange and interesting vacation spent in Colorado several years ago, including the Flatulence Tale, and a recollection of some surly women draped in what I can only call an urban sprawl across the overburdened and thoroughly inadequate furniture. She recommended I call my good friend Kenny who’s always good for what ails me. She then invited me to her house Sunday night for her son's post natal festivities. The ill-chosen sentence sounded like "Afterbirth Day Party".

During lunch, I continued reading “The Hakawati” by Rabih Alameddine; an enchanting book that continued to help take me out of myself, further thwarting Ennui and her imps. I will go to the gym tonight. I will walk on the treadmill, I will step on the stepper. Stepper always makes me sweat; I need exertion. I might start a new Korean drama. Either Que Sera Sera or Yi San. I haven’t decided. Spoilers tell me Yi San may not end so well. I could just pull out My Name is Kim Sam Soon or Dae Jang Geum; but I think I need some kdrama.

You know, life’s not so bad. With any luck, I’ll be back in fine fettle by Saturday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Beijing Olympics

I suppose their heart is in the right place....they just aren't very bright....

But they need to read up a little bit on their Adolph.

The Smoting of Chick

This was too good not to post:

My Uncle responded to my Chick Chick blog:
Thus speaks thy uncle: “I have heard thy lamentations arising through the Ethernet by way of thy blog and I am not without compassion for thy safety and well being. Call upon me and I shall smite thy oppressor by sending one of my servants in the Marine Corps and one or two slightly annoyed Rottweilers. Woe unto him who oppresses my clan. It would be better for him not to have been born or at least not to be abiding in the midst of thy family and loved ones.”

And I responded:
"And lo, he spaketh, and sent forth his wrath. Thus sayeth a second time the Uncle, "Woe unto him who oppreseth my clan". And woe fell to the Apartment numbered 102. Neither did woe fall to the apartment numbered 101, nor to 104, but only to 102. The Marines, being not fed, cast a hungry eye upon the wicked and the Rottweilers being still as beasts of the land set forth upon their prey. And the evil was vanquished in his sight and they all rejoiced."

Chick Chick

It gives one pause. I have modified my workout schedule because of the aforementioned Chick. It simply isn’t prudent to put myself in an awkward situation; especially at 5am. Not enough people awake to hear the dull thump of my body hit the floor after I’ve been chloroformed. No one around to see me slumped lifeless over a shoulder as it is carried into the bunker hewn from concrete, hermetically sealed in a soundproofed room.

Yes, it gives one pause.

So, I have adjusted my schedule, going in the evening when I come home from work. Let me say right now that I am not an evening person. In most cases, in fact, I HATE being social or at all active after 7pm. I’m too tired, I’m too crabby and I’m just toooooo not in the mood. I would far rather come home, have a glass of wine (thus nullifying most of the benefits of any workout), make dinner, talk with my daughter about her day and watch my tivo’d episodes of Frasier. I then climb into bed at 9pm, read three paragraphs of whatever Agatha Christie novel I’m re-reading, and nod off to sleep. THAT is my perfect evening.

But now…NOW…I have to go work out at 7pm. And I’m not a little bitter. My only consolation is that somewhere in the world a Law and Order repeat is on the television which I can access. And if there is no one else in the facility I can drool over Sam Waterston to my heart’s content. Mmmmmmmmsammwaterstonnnnnnnnn.

I have tried to keep my dog’s schedule consistent, however. Buddy is too old to have his kidneys adjust to the rigors of ChickStalk. At the same time every morning, I walk my dog. I take him on the same route; the benefits are two-fold; providing Buddy consistency and more importantly, the route gets me back in the house to begin my daily ablutions for work. If you live in Northern VA, you will appreciate the need to hit the lower-traffic pockets on the commute. A loss of 30 seconds can prove disastrous.

This morning was glorious, warm enough to not need a jacket, cool enough to brace my lungs. Buddy capers in the cooler weather; birds trill, the sun rises, very few other dog-walkers on their canine constitutional.

Unfortunately, my path paces in front of Chick’s porch door and windows. As I walk by, whoops! Out he comes. “Do you see what they do to my yard?”

I was unprepared; “I’m sorry?” as I discreetly move out of arms reach.

“Do you see what they do to my yard?” As he gestures toward his 5’x5’ patch of grass, I note two orange peels, and a slip of paper. I also note the red, white and blue sheet Chick has used to cover his window on one side and the orange cloth of indeterminate origin that covers the other side. It’s a colorful combination.

“Ah, I see. I hope you are going to complain about it.”

“Oh, I’ve already written a letter.”

“Well, good luck! Have a great day!” I continue on with Buddy. It is not lost on me that he has made contact again. I don’t want to have to adjust my schedule or Buddy’s, but I will have to. There is a voice that tells me I am not being charitable; there is a louder voice that recalls every serial killer profiling book I’ve ever read and counsels me not to take chances. I’m listening to that voice.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Did I tell you about weird guy? No, I'm sure I didn't. Hold on; needs a little set up. I’ve started going to the gym in the morning – 5am-ish. I’m just too tired to go at night. I find it much easier getting up at 4:45 am. I like it mostly because there is no one else there at that hour; I have the little place to myself.

Enter weird guy. Weird guy lives down hall. (I've decided to call him Chick) When I first moved in, I thought Chick was hearing impaired because when I walk by his door, the television was very very loud. Of course, it might be situated right by his door too. You never know.

So Monday, Chick comes in 20 minutes into my workout, as I watch Happy Days, grabs the remote from me and sets the sleep alarm to 45 minutes. OK. So maybe he’s a little socially inept. That’s cool.

I just as soon not communicate a whole lot in the gym. But Chick’s a talker. He begins his small talk by informing me that the shower water in the gym isn't hot enough. (Being as visual as I am, this conjured up an image I didn't want conjured up.) Chick lodged a complaint with the management, but they refused to accede to his request. Further complaints brought no relief and he knew what was going on; they were trying to save money to pour it into the landscaping. He wanted to protest by not paying his home owners association fees, but, “They get you by putting a lien on your property, so you can’t do that!”

Penny pinching condo people are the bain of his existence. I made some noises about them needing to take better care of us blah blah blah.

This wasn't enough for him; he had an axe to grind. Chick continues to tell me how he had, on more than one occasion mind you, vigorously exercised his first amendment rights by complaining about the thermostat not working in the gym. Complained and complained, to no avail. Chick explained to that the woman who runs the facility kept telling him it wasn't broken. So you know what he did? He pulled himself up to his full 5’4”, pointed at it and said “I BROKE IT!”

I didn't ask how; I was a little afraid it was through blunt force trauma or that he used some form of bladed instrument.

Whooops, my time was up! Bye Chick! I got back to my apartment, opened up my prayer booklet and the words that started my day were "Judge not, lest ye be judged." This reminded me that I'm a hateful human being.

But last night, as I picked up my mail, I noticed that Chick has a strip of clear packing tape down by the corner of his door. My dramatic mind developed a scenario painting Chick paranoid with newspapers piled up in his apartment and a copy of "Catcher in the Rye" at his bedside. If anyone attempted to break into his apartment whilst he was out, he would be able to immediately tell because of the severed tape. Test #2, and less obvious to the casual observer, would be one of his own freshly plucked hairs spanning the topmost portion of his doorway. This too would be decimated when the enemy attempted to slip in and gain the secret knowledge to which only Chick had access.

Today 5am, as I pass his apartment to go to the gym, his door opens. Decked in his workout garb, I can tell that he's on his way too. Oh, crap. A little voice told me it was so he could see what my schedule was. I tried to soothe that voice. I could take him on if I had to.

Meanwhile, at the gym, I get on the treadmill, and like the day before, he grabs the remote, sets the sleep timer for 45 minutes. A man of habit, is our Chick. Asks me if there is something I wanted to watch, handed me back the remote. I found Leave it to Beaver - a mild, non-threatening, I thought an almost soothing sitcom. Chick begins lamenting that sitcoms are crap; “Did you ever watch Seinfeld? Seinfeld was the worst show ever!” I tempted fate and tried to disagree, "Oh? See, I liked Seinfeld.” My discourse was brushed aside. Chick then he gets on his machine and is focused for ten minutes.

Once off, he begins his lifting regimen. He attempts to impress by telling me that he got one treadmill up to 25 mph and that he can bench press 250 lbs.
This elicited an uninterested "Ahhh" from me; I didn't want to encourage him at all. One could never be sure that there WASN'T a lovingly dug bunker in his condo hewn out of cement to store and have relations with his gym partners, keeping them there as his brides. I continued to focus on Jerry Mathers.

Lots of grunting coming from my little companion as he lifted whatever he lifts. While he took a breather, he thought to impress me with his knowledge of "Leave it to Beaver" trivia. Had this been a Lifetime television movie, Michael Meyers Friday the 13th music would have been playing in the background, slowly swelling, I think.

In still another attempt at polite gym conversation, he shared with me that legendary porn star Johnny Holmes originally played Eddy Haskell on "Leave it to Beaver".
Whoops my time was up; BYE CHICK.

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