Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Payoff Time

Well, a loyal reader (yes! I have one!) appealed to my sense of Fair Play and requested the answers to the terrible riddles. Only I can't remember all of them, so I have to have another window open to see what I said before.

  1. What's the saddest tree?
    A weeping willow.
  2. Why did the driver throw money on the road? (Sounds like a recast "blonde joke" to me)
    So she could see if she could stop on a dime.

  3. When is the theatre clumsy?
    When the curtain falls.
  4. Why did the exterminator lose his job?
    Because he was bugging people.
  5. Why did the book work for the FBI?
    Because it wanted undercover work.
  6. Why did the book wind up in the hospital?
    Because it broke its spine!

Yes! And there are worse ones! Some in the new popsicle box don't even work at all; or they're set up backwards. Trust us. We are becoming experts. and the popsicles aren't as good, either, but since we have our popsicles while we are watching Lance Armstrong and Team Discovery burn themselves up and whip the competition on the Alps and Pyranees, we don't really care because we are screaming and cheering while we slurp and the flavor is irrelevant.

Example of a bad one: How do elves make sandwiches?

Don't wait with bated breath. It's not worth it. With shortbread.

What's a snake's favorite subject? Hiss-tory.

What do you call a funny snake? Hiss-terical.

Sigh. It's hardly worth going on.

But the tyke has lately surpassed me in popsicle points, and I am running a sad second. But I have to muster the appetite to slurp my way through more.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Ahem . . . addendum to preceding post

Gawd, I seem to have implied that, over one-and-a-half boxes of popsicles (12 to a box; that would mean 18 popsicles) I ATE THEM ALL!!!

Heavens no. I only got one grape and one fruit punch. But the rule is everyone else comes to me to give me first go on the riddle. Momma's prerogative. Because everybody knows when Momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy!

Although today after summer school, tyke helped himself and won the joke prize. And did he dance!

Dumb jokes

Because it's summer, we have popsicles! But they don't come anymore the way they did when I was a kid. They used to be double, with double sticks, so if you had a sibling or a friend with you, you could share. And I have a hard time finding banana and root beer flavors now. They exist; I'm just not a zealous enough shopper.

So I found these juice popsicles that are vitamin fortified. They are pretty good and the fruit punch ones taste like watermelon--I'd have knocked a kid over for something like that when I was little. But it's not the vitamins that I care about. It's the sticks. Yep, because the sticks are printed with Terrible Riddles and Jokes. Last year, the riddle and its answer were hidden inside the "quiescently frozen confection." (I hate to think what it's like to be "quiescently frozen.")

But this year the Popsicle Quality Control persons had a brainstorm, and let the question be on the part of the stick you hold, and the answer be hidden under the ice. So if you need the time to think of an answer, you have until you lick the answer off to guess it. Neat, huh?

Well, let me tell you I am the queen of stupid jokes. I am undefeated champion as of one-and-a-half boxes. It's not a skill you can just pick up, and it's a shock of a talent to discover when at least half your natural life is statistically over. I hope I can use it in upcoming job interviews.

Here are some I can remember off the top of my head:
  1. What's the saddest tree?
  2. Why did the driver throw money on the road?
  3. When is the theater clumsy?
  4. Why did the exterminator lose his job?
  5. Why did the book work for the FBI?
  6. Why did the book wind up in the hospital?

Now, go slurp something icy and drippy and think of some answers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

What's Going On?

Okay. Something weird is going on with the way blogspot's publisher publishes my entries lately. The template isn't right, and I don't have time (just now) to dick around with it. As it appears to me, and should well appear to you if you are on the SAME big ol' world wide web I'm on, the right-side frames are not showing up as a column next to the text, but as a column after the text. This development is new, but certainly not welcome. I apologise, but probably won't go investigate this for a while, so please bear with it.

More Mouths of Babes-isms

Back on Memorial Day, we decided to do the small-town (well, 60,000) thing and go to the West Hartford Centre for the parade. Last year we didn't go and I got lambasted for it. And it sounded fun this time. It goes about 2 or 3 miles, then ends up in front of the town hall, where there was to be a Memorial Day Memorial Memorial.

We could easily have walked; that's the original trouble. Even though it was quite a warm day. Honestly, we are no more than one mile (measured by car dash meter, natch!) from the town center. And we could have saved, oh, 30 cents by not parking. Lazy butt family. That's also why we are gradually (except for swim champ tyke) becoming the Big Butt family.

As I was revving up the family to GET GOING, because if we didn't GET GOING, the five-minute parade would BE OVER, sudden panic erupted from tyke. He did not want to park and walk. It would be nice, it seems, if he could somehow have been gently airlifted to a webbed-summer-folding chair in front of his favorite shops on Farmington Avenue. But I explained that this was not to be.

He had a fit and yelled. "Mom, I promise you . . . this time we are not parking close to the car. Because I just can't stand to walk that far."


Big brother just cracked up. "Heaven knows we're not going to park close to the car! You gag me, you dum$#%^!"

We got there without unpleasant consequence, and enjoyed the parade immensely because one of the things you get in a fairly small town is lots of crossing paths with people you know from everywhere. This was painful for Big Brother, who had the thirteen-year-old mortifying embarrassment of being seen IN PUBLIC with his DORKY PARENTS and retarded LITTLE brother. Neighbor kids were marching: girl next-door's flaming red hair showed up in her Girl Scout troop, Big Brother's two best friends played trumpet in the middle-school band and I wasn't allowed to cheer for them, and every time Honey and I tried to move or wave at someone or acknowledge someone's presence on the street or in the crowd, Big Brother's toes curled up and he winced and groaned like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz.

There's a certain evil pleasure to be gained from such teenager-humiliating moments; I'd be lying if I didn't say I relish it fully.

Later that night, after the parking-too-close-to-the-car comment had been nearly forgotten, tyke struck with another one.

"Oh. Looks like we're having a rain. But it's a DRY rain."

Can't Read, or Fifth of July

I like to think I'm a fairly literate person. It seems I almost never have problems comprehending or remembering what I read. But I'm a bit baffled now (in a different way than by Kinnie R).

Independence Day came and went, and I was officially a Bad Mom. The tyke was terribly distraught because I made turkey burgers and hadn't even given a passing thought to HOT DOGS! How can you haave a Fourth-of-July cookout without hot dogs? (Eeeewww. We NEVER buy hot dogs!) He protested loudly as though I were abusive, despite the protest noises of his big brother, who kept saying things about gross chicken lips and other awful offal.

And to add insult to injury, I had also forgotten MARSHMALLOWS for roasting on the barbecue. Bad Mommy, Bad Mommy! Dispatch her to the dungeon.

Honey made some excellent potato salad and even a Mediterranean pasta salad. I made fruit salad, burgers, and toasted multigrain buns. In the tradition of unsconscious Americans doing things large, we pigged out in fine style, with a red table cloth and little paraffin oil candles held in tiny metal buckets with beach glass.

Well, I felt guilty becaue the tyke is good at keeping grudges alive and the next day when I had to go to the grocery for milk, I decided to pick up marshmallows and at least investigate the weenies. It had to be a decent brand.

Now here is where the reading challenge comes in. I was able to reject brand after brand by reading packages. What I wound up with was sort of the brand containing the least of many obvious evils. I chose what seemed ultimately to have nothing in it. Here is how the "frankfurter" label reads:
  • Keep refrigerated
  • Heat before serving (but it doesn't say whether they're already fully cooked or not! Hmmm)
  • Sugar free
  • Lite
  • Skinless
  • 40% lower sodium: Sodium reduced from 460 mg to 270 mg compared to the USDA data
  • 50% lower fat: Fat reduced from 13g to 6 g per serving compared to the USDA data
  • 40% lower calories: Calories reduced from 140 to 90

Okay, lower fat and calories, and sugar free. But here's the part I really don't get:


Wait! I thought 50 calories were eradicated. Isn't 50 fewer calories "reduced calories"? What, are they hanging around as phantom calories, like an amputee's limb? Can you still gain weight from the absent calories?

Hep me. Hep me, pleez!

Idiot's Happiness

Okay. I am a Dim Bulb, as evidenced on another blog. But the eBay ventures triumphed! Ho-o-o-o-o-ly cats! Haven't bid on eBay for at least two or three years. Won't again unless prompted by necessity.

Camera is an absolute PEACH. It's now down to dueling cameras, using a vintage manual and, more improtantly, careful handling of a volatile 13-year-old. Results not all in yet, but everything on eBay camera is in expected functional mechanical order, including (unbelievably) built-in light meter. Kid, though, could go wiggy. Happy discovery that both print and slide b&w film are still available for OOOLD cameras such as this Retina IIIc. Awesome. The young man in the camera shop nearly fell down when he saw the Retina. "Oh, I LOVE to see something like that come in!" he said.

And re the almost certainly mad purchase: knitting needles better than expected given uneducated description and less educated gamble. Not exactly all the same length, not all matching color, but at the risk of making a bad joke it's the true gauge that actually matters.

The gauges seem to mix among European and American--numbers certainly don't correspond to each other in many cases. But I have American and the odd numbers out match American sizes. And gauge can be translated easily from European mm to American (uh-what-unit?) size. What I'm sayng is, even if the numbers are not the same, the appearance and ultimate gauge is. And the materials do match re pairs in plastic or metal, and mostly metal, and quite impressive. Some are slightly bent from zealous handling, but this makes no difference in actual work-up. There are even a couple whole sets of double pointed needles (dreaded dpns) for socks and mittens.

Ooh, laah, no regrets! 4.99 sterling, worth every penny even when you add international shipping. Think of cold little kids who could have hats or gloves knit from these. Happy.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Almost Certainly Mad

Well, I've gone and done something crazy. I wish I could say that it kept me so busy that that's why I haven't posted in a dog's age, only I can't because that's another story entirely.

My kid, G, is going to take a full-time photography course at the end of July. For this he will need a non-digital SLR camera with manual controls. Well, you just go try to find something like that, knowing something about it. There are digital-out-the-wazoo, either/or manual focus, manual or automatic flash, blah blah blah bells and whistles we don't need. A good old fashioned, tough-work, learn the hard way camera is a gem nowadays. I determined that I'd have to buy something used.

I have some swell cameras but they are family heirlooms and cannot be operated without intensive training. And I can't replace them. And I keep them locked up. So I'm not passing them on to the next generation unless or until G proves his ability to jump through hoops of fire. If I ever do a-tall.

But I know one specific kind of camera that is just a marvelous workhorse of early technology. And swell and German with a real leather case that is still ergonomically swank even today. My dad had one in the early 50's and kept it until he passed it to me in my last year of undergrad when I won a photography fellowship. It is absolutely the GREATEST, and I would kill anybody who damaged it, including my kid. So I got a bright idea: eBAY! Maybe there's still another one somewhere in the world!

Yes, about three weeks ago I started looking on eBay for this model. Of course i know exactly what it's supposed to look like and what kind of lens and shutter it should have and what's wrong with any of the pictures if the camera's not right. And for two weeks and more I got outbid in auctions because I couldn't bite the $$$ bullet. But I kept track of what they were going for, and therefore figured out the reasonable range.

After I had lost all the auctions, I kept looking only to find that NOBODY had any more. It was the end of life for auctions on this camera model. For another week I looked, and there was absolutely nothing. I decided I had missed the boat and I would NEVER AGAIN have an opportunity. (This is a typical part of eBay syndrome. You can work yourself up until you make yourself sick with competitiveness, worry, hyperventilation, jealousy and disappointment.)

Well, this morning I decided I should noodle again, and found some. And I knew what they should go for. And I found an auction on what looked to be as good a specimen as I'd bid on before. Only it was still available at a relatively low price. Should I bid and then fight with a million people over it again, or did the buy it now price make sense? Well, it did.

So then I watched it for a while, knowing any minute somebody was gonna bid and it would quickly go sky-high and I'd have blown it again. So then I called the seller and asked questions. It was missing all attachments (that's fine; I already have them all). it was missing the manual. (Okay; I have one.) It had a broken crease in the case. No problem. The main thing was that the lens was good and the whole thing was in working order.

So I struck. Now, it'll be a week or so before it comes, giving me time to have it rebuilt or fixed or teach G how to use it.

But that's not what I did that was almost certainly mad. NO; I kept going looking for corny things on eBay. It has enormous, seductive entertainment value. There is nothing people are too proud to sell on eBay.

A couple of weeks ago when I was stalking the camera I also peeked in on knitting needles. (You will know why if you look a few entries back and see the instand car-ma disaster.) A few were worth bidding on, but when I figured out what they would cost new in a store and then added whatever shipping charges the sellers proposed, almost none of the items made sense. So I balked. Then today I went back just out of a smidgeon of curiosity.

I found a whole RAFT of needles of various kinds. It was a smorgasbord of knit-mania. Only problem was, the seller seemed to be a guy who had no idea what was there or what to tell about it. Some plastic, some metal. "some are thin and some are fat." That was about it. But CHEAP? Yeah. And, but, uh, from the UK. I put on my calculation cap again. There must be at least 30 pairs of needles there. If you bought new, even cheap needles at, say, $3 or $4/pr., you might spend $100. And these were offered en masse at 4.99 pounds sterling. So even if you paid for the postage, if you could win them at the low asking price (not bidding higher), it could be a deal.

I waited until there was about 1 minute and some seconds left, and no one else bid. Of course, what was going through my mind was, "What if they're all SINGLES of a pair and none of them match or they're all of the same gauge?" Yeah, but. Hey, 4.99, which on today's exchange rate was less than $9. For a whole bucket 'o' needles! The seconds ticked away, and I bid. And a cool thing about bidding at the last minute is, you have instant gratification (if you win)--or instant non-gratification.

Well of course I won. Who else would be dim bulb enough to go after such a harebrained scheme?

Now well wait for the post and see what a disaster it was. And when the camera comes, I can take pictures of the needles with traditional 35mm film, if I can remember how to set the focus and shutter speed.