Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I just got a poster for a tribal event and the headline statement uses the word "upliftment." Either they've never heard of the word "inspiration" or the copy editor used to work for Victoria's Secret.
I can't believe that Febraury is over! Granted it's a short month, but still. We've crammed a ton of happenings, including our birthdays, Valentine's Day, heart surgery, a new nephew, a new cleaner, a new patio door, and last night I installed the new door hardware. No wonder the time flew by! I remember always making fun of my grandmother who would say, "it seems like yesterday [insert memory here]. Well now I find myself thinking that ALL THE TIME! It really does seem like yesterday that we were in Salt Lake for the 2002 Olympics and here we are just finishing up the 2006 Olympics! Actually, I can remember getting a promotional booklet from Cheerios or something for the Sarajevo Olympics--and that was in 1984!!! Yikes! When you can say the phrase, "I was [insert any activity other than getting a diaper change] twenty years ago" and you know you've moved past the Spring chicken phase and are headed for the roasting pan.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Geesh! I can't believe I've been looking forward to getting back to work all weekend. We had some new doors installed at our house and they were unfinished, so I had to stain and seal them. They couldn't be closed while the treatments were drying, and two french doors wide open leave a pretty gaping hole in the side of the house--and a pretty gaping hole in our wallet not only for the doors but for the heating bill. Even when the doors had dried enough to close, I was reluctant to do so, since the fumes were overwhelming--I still have a headache and I left the house an hour ago! What is the most aggravating, though, is when I went outside to see how the doors looked, I noticed that the stain didn't even adhere to the door! I think there is some weatherization treatment on the outside surface--and unfortunately the only way to cover that up is to paint the doors. I swear, homeownership is not all it's cracked up to be.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Phew! My dad's cardiologist was able to repair his heart, avoiding "Plan B" which was the bionic heart. While pretty cool, it would have all of us constantly worried that the batteries would run out at an inopportune time. He came out of the surgery well enough that when he asked his doctor if he had any diet restrictions, he was told none. At that he asked for a greasy spoon diner hamburger, which prompted a joke from my brother that I can't write here, it being a family blog and all, but it was funny enough to elicit enough laughter from my dad that it ripped open his operation wound and the nurses had to take drastic measures to get the bleeding stopped. Now I know what the phrase, "I almost died laughing" really means!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

As if just the fact of turning 35 wasn't enough to make me feel old, last night I was playing a video game that my brother gave me called Pirates and once my character turned--coincidentally enough--35, his swordfighting reflexes got so slow that I couldn't win a single duel! Stupid game!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes people can get so caught up in their work that they can't see the inherent stupidity of what they're doing. Yesterday I went to buy a Diet Coke at the cafe next to my work. When I went to pay, I gave the cashier $20.25, which would give me $19 in change. Well, he opened up the register and didn't have any tens, only one five, and only nine ones. He gave me the $5 bill and nine $1's and started counting out QUARTERS to make up the rest of the change. After he realized that 1) he didn't have enough quarters (it would have been THIRTY-TWO!!!) and 2) it would have cleaned out his cash register, he said, how about you just take this on credit and pay tomorrow. I couldn't believe that it took him that long to think that up. And I was relieved that he allowed it, because with thirty quarters in my pocket, I would have been at constant risk of my pants falling down from all the weight!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh my gosh! I can't believe how cold it's been here in Portland the last few days! On Friday, coming in to work, I was carrying a fountain pop--it's NEVER too cold for an ice-filled Diet Coke--and since I didn't have gloves on, I put the cup in the crook of my arm so I could keep both hands in my coat pockets. Since this was kind of awkward, I couldn't help but spill some of the pop, some of which splashed onto my coat. When I got in the building, I looked down and saw the beads of pop on my sleeve, so I tried to brush them off, but they wouldn't move--they were FROZEN to my sleeve!!! I don't remember that even happening in NORWAY! I was just glad I hadn't wet my pants!

Which reminds me of a time a group from BYU went down to the Hot Pots during the winter. Coming back from a night of soaking, one of the girls started freaking out because her hair was "full of sticks!" Well, it turned out that her hair had just frozen solid. Talk about stupid--we hiked several miles to soak in hot water, paying the price by risking hypothermia on the hike back! Typical college students!

Friday, February 17, 2006

In the continuing series of looking back on yesteryear, here's my ordeal with home improvement:

August 13, 2004: Whitewash
Six long years of working to turn the industrial wasteland that was our backyard into the veritable edenic setting has come to a conclusion today when the painter we hired finished painting our awning. It amazes me how much a good cleaning and fresh white paint can make a shabby patio look downright presentable.

After the painting was completed, I noticed that the yard light wasn't exactly up to par--it was just a little cheap fixture we found at Home Depot. The fixture was okay, but the glass was pretty mundane--plus it was clear, so the bare light bulb wasn't exactly aesthetically pleasing. Margaret had the great idea of buying art glass to replace it, so I went down to a glass store and picked out a cool streaked opaque glass that was perfect. The price-gouging store, however, knew that inexperienced suckers who wanted such things are willing to pay a premium for simple glass cuts--$5 per item! I wasn't about to pay $20 for the four pieces of glass that I needed--especially since I only paid $7 for the glass--so I bought a little glass cutter at the store. The saleslady showed me how it worked--deceptively simple. The first cut--success! It followed the cut line perfectly. The second cut--d'oh, not as straight. I decided to use that piece in the back that faced the house, since people wouldn't see it anyway. Well, I proceeded to repeat the same problem for all four pieces, wasting the entire piece of glass. At this point, I'm out $7 for the glass, $5 for the cutter, and now another $7 for another piece of glass. Do I cut my losses and just have the store cut the pieces, even though it kills me to facilitate their exploitation of neophytes who can't cut glass? Or do I try again and risk a repeat of my previous results? Such weighty matters are not to be made lightly--if only there were an oracle nearby that I could consult. Since there isn't, I'll probably vacillate on a decision up until I'm standing in the glass shop. Good thing my decision-making skills are so atrophied that I'm incapacitated by a $20 decision; no wonder we don't have any kids yet!

Follow-up: Well, it's been a year and a half since then, and I'm proud to announce that the crookedly cut glass is still in the light fixture--plus it gets even BETTER: since one of the pieces wouldn't stay in, I cut a piece of plastic vellum and just stuck it in. So add sloth to my growing list of sins.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Today, I was cleaning off my hard drive and noticed the first iteration of "Just a Service I Provide" that I started in 2004. Since I was the only person who ever read that one, I thought I'd rerun them here on the Official Blog of Jeremy© for the historical preservation and so you can see how much I've TOTALLY matured in the past two years:

Sunday, August 22,2004: Provo Pride and Prejudice
Last night Margaret and I rented the Mormon version of Pride and Prejudice. It was filmed in and around Provo, Utah--forcing me to relive the halcyon days I spent there during school. My days there were quite blissful and carefree, so it wasn't an unwelcome reliving. I think the Provo/BYU scene meshed very well with Jane Austen's England--after all, so many women in both are completely fixated on marriage and the men either taking advantage of the situation or completely bought into it. In both the book and the movie, the protagonist is a woman who thinks for herself and isn't looking for marriage, thereby attracting the anomalous man who is more interested in the woman as an equal. While I wouldn't consider myself a Mr. Darcy--I don't have enough hair is just one of the problems--I do resemble him in that I am completely fascinated by Margaret's mind and will. Hmm, we're living an Austen movie right in the comfort of our own home! Now we just need to push it up a notch and buy a manor house in the Yorkshire countryside.

I think the sudden dearth of Mormon movies (I guess the millions that God's Army made was just too much of a temptation to pass up) is quite disconcerting. Especially since some of these flicks are absolute crap--I mean, what's up with "The Home Teacher?" I guess the producers are counting on millions of guys in Utah taking their dates to a "spir-chull" movie. The sad thing is that the formula seems to be working. Only a place like Utah could support a whole chain that rents only edited movies, known as "Clean Flicks," that cater to the oh-so-delicate sensibilities of people who think that seeing bare skin or hearing a swear word is going to besmirch them for time and all eternity. (And it's funny that violence seems to be much more excusable; personally I'd much rather experience sex than a violent act, but maybe that's my besmirched soul talking--after all, I've seen rated R movies!)

I have nine more entries, so keep tuned as I dredge up more blasts from the past.
Last week we replaced the sliding aluminum seventies-era sliding glass door with a set of french doors. Unfortunately, we forgot to order the hardware so the installers could put that together when they put the door in, so now we're stuck with putting the locks and knobs on. That's no problem--what's turned out to be a bigger problem is actually deciding what kind of hardware we want on the doors. I've agonized over all the choices, visiting tons of websites and seeing different options. I even found a "Navajo" set with geometric designs--for the Southwest Indian in us all--because nothing says tribal like a oil polished bronze french door lever handle set with matching deadbolt and doorbell! I don't know why I'm making such a big deal out of it, either--the front door hardware is seen by way more people, yet that's just a plain knob and deadbolt from Home Depot. I guess when we spent that much on a door, I don't want to ruin it by putting a plastic knob on it. Although a plastic knob would be preferable to what we have now. While we're waiting for the hardware to arrive, we've just locked the back gate and stuffed paper towels into the bore holes. How's that for a security system!

Speaking of bad door hardware, I remember one time when we were in school, my little sister was trying to get to my mom, who was in the bathroom, and broke the lock to the door. It was quite traumatic, as she had broken the knob into the locked position and my mom was trapped in the bathroom. Mom was only able to try and comfort my sister by talking under the door. She didn't get out of the bathroom until my dad came home for lunch. After that, the only way to lock the door was to open the dryer door, which sat next to the door, which blocked the door from opening more than an inch or two. Needless to say, we never developed many privacy issues in that house!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This weekend, coming back from the coast, we saw a sign for a covered bridge. Since we were just meandering home anyway--our only appointment was to get to the Spirit Mountain Casino for lunch--we decided to check out one of the Bridges of Tilamook County. It was about a mile off the main highway, which was a good thing, because if it were any further, I'd have been pissed that we'd driven so far just to see a bridge that happened to have a roof over it. WHAT is up with the romance of those things? I don't even know why they were covered in the first place. Was it to keep the bridge dry? A safe haven for trolls? A use for left over lumber from last week's barn raisin'? There were some road workers there who looked at all the gawkers with bemusement--I'm sure they were thinking "look at all them there city folk lookin' at a stupid bridge." Now if they would build a covered walkway between my work and Taco Bell, THAT'S something I would marvel at and use all the time. That would fulfill all the reasons listed above: walkway dry--check (this IS the Northwest--moss even grows on CARS here); troll haven--check (you would not believe how many ugly people are walking around); excess lumber--check (we have to find uses for all the trees we clearcut here). Eh, who am I kidding? A covered walkway is just as likely to be built as our schools to be adequately funded!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For my birthday, Margaret and I went to a bed and breakfast we like out at Depoe Bay. It's really relaxing--particularly the private balcony with jacuzzi overlooking the ocean. It's great to leave the door open a little bit to hear the waves all night (although a drawback of that is you have to get up several times during the night to go to the bathroom.)

When we walked in to town for dinner at The Sea Hag (the place has higher end food despite the name), we saw a restaurant with an ever MORE questionable name--The BLOW HOLE! How in the world does that instill appetite? When I hear blow hole, I think of a rotting beached whale or half chewed debris spewing out of a whale--neither of which says "fine dining" to me.

Getting ready to leave the bed and breakfast, Margaret picked up the room's guest book to sign it and so we started thumbing through the entries. Most of them were couples for their honeymoon or anniversary. One in particular, however, caught our eye:

(Shudder) I had no idea that we were staying in the Hotel Viagra! I also couldn't believe someone would write that in the guest book. Maybe I could have grossed future guests out with my entry: The sea, the quiet, the comfort. This stay did wonders for my leprosy--nothing fell off while I was here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Well, my birthday has come and gone--now I'm going to have to change my bio to the right to say "35 frickin' years old" and "making my life seem 87% more interesting." Right on schedule for the birthday, too, was my back going out. I don't know if it was a delayed effect of carrying all the boxes of Ikea furniture, putting my shoulder too much to the wheel (why don't they consider putting little motors in the handcarts for the pioneer reenactment?), or competing in a breakdancing contest here in Portland (do you know how rough a back spin that moves into a head spin is on your back? Agony!) Anyway, however I did it, talk about inopportune time! Right when I'm feeling like I'm getting old, my back goes out and I have to hobble around, have difficulty getting out of a chair, and can't lift a thing. A couple of times the pain was so bad, I would have considered using a WALKER! My back's on the mend now, after the whole aging and mortality message got through to me from my spinal cord. Hopefully it won't go out again this week, since this weekend is Margaret's birthday and walking around with a hunched over guy helping him get out of the car are not good ways to think you're young (I guess if I had a couple million dollars she'd be my trophy wife--as it is, the only financial benefit she gets from being married to me is a favored tax status. I guess it will have to do.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Today is the last day of my 34th year! I can't shake the suspicion that tomorrow I'll wake up in need of a walker, have to buy some Metamucil, and will request seasons 1-30 of Matlock from Netflix. So many experiences I've missed out on in my youth--I've still yet to taste of that sweet, sweet nectar alcohol, I've never snorted cocaine off a nightclub toilet seat, and I've never ripped one of those tags off a matress that you're not supposed to. Oh how I've never LIVED!

Well, on a more shocking note, get a load of this! Yesterday I helped put on a workshop and one of the people attended via video conference. This was pretty cool, as it was a test run of our new system. Prior to this, we had to actually attend in PERSON and that posed the risk of interacting with people--ugg (but at least we got good doughnuts). Well, the video attendee I guess was more used to conference calls (you know--the "meetings" where you just dial in, press mute on your phone, then play solitaire on your computer and when someone comes into your office to ask you to do something, you tell them, "sorry, I'm on a conference call"). The reason I say this is because during THE ENTIRE MEETING, we watched her as she SEWED!!! I guess she was listening to the meeting, but let me tell you how distracting it was to look over at the giant screen monitor to see someone get up occasionally to cut some fabric or unwind some thread, then go back to sewing something by hand. I thought that in the next segment, she'd move over to the test kitchen and whip up a duck confit with orange glaze. I think that when I use the system, I'll do that trick from the movie "Speed" where I'll tape myself looking interested for a few minutes, then send that loop over the video conference system--that way I can practice my dance moves while I'm in my "meeting" and no one will be the wiser--unless of course they're Dennis Hopper and he spots the jump at the loop seam where the can of Diet Coke that I hadn't been drinking at the beginning of the recording mysteriously disappears from the screen--then I'd have to make a daring escape so I could be around for the sucky sequel: "Meeting Zombies and the Quest for Krispy Kremes."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

This will be a short entry, as yesterday my computer died--and since I'm so confident in technology I last backed up in March of 2005! Fortunately we found a program that might help, so we bought it and ran it on the machine. It took several hours, but, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, my computer lives again! Unfortunately, now I'm swamped because I have a major presentation to design on it that I was supposed to be working on yesterday. I'll give more details tomorrow--just suffice it to say that a prayer to the Apple gods TOTALLY worked!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Since we got a new desk at Ikea this weekend, it was time to finally retire the old Costco special that I have had since I was in college. That thing was enormous--it was a full wrap-around desk and was the kind that should only be moved once--and that's its first move from the store. After that, each successive move results in greater and greater damage until, as we found out--after four moves, it becomes so wobbly and unstable that you're afraid to place more than four sheets of paper on the desktop for fear of it collapsing. Of course, that isn't a good situtation to be in when you have a 200 lb. computer monitor sitting on it. Well, anyway, we took the old desk apart and put it on the back porch. Not wanting it there, but knowing our finely honed procrastination skills could possibly see it still sitting there until The Reckoning© before we got around to taking it to the dump, I decided to place an ad on Craig's List (an online classified ad service). I stated that the desk was free to a good home. It was the first ad I've ever placed online, and I didn't know what to expect--actually, I was thinking that I'd better get a response within the seven days alloted to ads. Well, shortly after posting it, I got TWO requests for the desk, and in the time it took me to reply to the first person and take the ad down off Craig's List, I had gotten EIGHT more! I had no idea that it was so efficient. Now Margaret and I and wondering about a whole slew of things that we have been putting off doing something about that we could take care of on Craig's List--like an ad offering our dilapidated deathtrap garage--a building that is so far gone that I'm sure it would collapse should a squirrel or raccoon get on the roof--free to a good home.

It turned out that this was an instance where giving something away for free worked out, but shortly after we moved into the house, we got a knock on our door and on our porch were two cute little Hispanic girls who asked Margaret--with really thick accents that were quite endearing--if they could gather some of our hydrangea blooms "for the church." Margaret's heart melted and she said, "of course you can," and went back inside. Later, when we went outside to go somewhere, we looked at the hydrangea bush and there wasn't a SINGLE BLOOM left on it! We later found out that it was a scam and that they were really gathering the flowers to dry and sell in arrangements. Now when they come to the door, Margaret goes out and cuts them a few blooms herself. Nothing like experience to turn you into a cynic.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Saturday we made a pilgrimage to Seattle to worship at the house of Ikea. We went up with Cheron and Craig (the couple who just moved, but needed MORE stuff to put in their condo! They needed stuff that they could stuff their stuff into.) We left at the crack of dawn in an effort to beat the hordes of shoppers--alas THAT was a fantasy. I don't know when you could go there without feeling like you're part of a herd of cattle. The main thing we wanted was a tv stand (I know, I know--driving 300 miles and adding in the cost of gas, food, and an entire day, the cheap price of the tv stand isn't so cheap anymore!) Well, once we got there, we were mesmerized by the aroma of the Swedish meatballs wafting through the building telling us to buy, Buy, BUY! Well, we listened to meatballs--they told us we needed a new office desk, two office cabinets, a vanity, and some Swedish cookies. Between the two couples, we came home with a VW van loaded to capacity with boxes and our little Jetta so weighted down in the back that it felt like we were preparing for a take-off! Little did I know that the loading and unloading the one and half tons of boxes was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of work.

I spent all day Sunday assembling the furniture--it's a good thing I love Legos, because putting together Ikea furniture is Legos for adults--only you get to set a tv or books on them afterward and they don't get sucked into the vacuum. Most of the stuff we were putting together was in the basement, so I would put something together and Margaret would take the empty box upstairs and set it on the porch for recycling. It wasn't until we broke for dinner and I walked outside that I saw the mountain of cardboard we'd made. It's a good thing that Portland has a curbside recycling program--although I'm sure the collectors are going to be none too pleased when they see this mound when they come by tomorrow! Oh well, with the taxes we pay here in Oregon, I think it's the least they can do.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Yesterday going home, I thought I lucked out when the bus that goes right near our house came by right when I was heading home. Since this bus comes so infrequently--I think it is set to only come one minute BEFORE I get to the stop--I usually go on the train, but that's a pain, since I then have to take TWO MORE busses to get home. Well, since I'd caught the direct bus off guard and managed to get on, I thought I'd be getting home early enough to watch the Flinstones, but alas, it wasn't in the cards. At an intersection where the bus has to merge from the righthand lane into the left in order to turn, a car (actually, it was appropriately an SUV) would not let the bus in. I guess she was in a big hurry to get back to her suburban bliss. Since the bus has no choice--it couldn't just miss the turn--it turned on its yield sign and started to merge into the lane. Well this evidently infuriated the SUV driver, because the driver started leaning on her horn and kept driving--eventually driving RIGHT INTO THE BUS! Gee, she really proved her point. As soon as the bus made the turn, the driver had to stop and pass out witness forms to all the people on the bus. We then had to wait for a transit official... and wait.... and WAIT! No one could leave the bus until the inspector came, so we were trapped on that bus for almost a half an hour. It felt like a combination of one of those overcrowded trains in Gandhi coupled with Panic Room--...can't... gasp... breathe... walls... closing... in... and... guy... next... to... me... smells... like... feet!. We FINALLY were able to leave the bus to transfer to another (since that bus had to stay put), but of course--true to form--right as we were allowed off the bus, the next bus zoomed past us before anyone could get to the stop. The only consolation to the whole ordeal was that that woman who was in such a hurry that she couldn't bear to have the bus merge in front of her was trapped at the scene--and was still there when we were allowed off the bus so I have no idea how long she was delayed. Sometimes I just LOVE karma!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Well I think Margaret is finally getting desensitized to scary movies. Last night we watched Silence of the Lambs and instead of having me accompany her upstairs and wait outside the bathroom door while she's in there, she just kept yelling down "Are you still down there?" Now if I could only get over my crippling fear of clowns we could finally function normally. How does one go about desensitizing oneself to clowns--and don't say dress up as one, because I think that at this point, that would make me either implode or suffer a psychotic break. Maybe if I just watch C-SPAN more often?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

There once was a time that smoking marijuana was confined to seedy characters in seedy apartments in seedy neighborhoods (at least that's what the DARE officers always told us), but last night my eyes were opened! Walking down Hawthorne (the Bohemian street where we live that my dad fondly refers to as "Hippie Town") last night, I had my head down because it was pouring rain--not that that does anything, but it made me feel like that picture of James Dean walking the rainy streets of New York at night with his head down and collar up--although I didn't have a cigarette... or the cool hair... or the acting credentials--ok, it was NOTHING like James Dean. Anyway, walking along with my head down, I smelled the unmistakable aroma of marijuana, and looked up to see a group of seedy characters OUTSIDE their seedy apartment in my seedy neighborhood smoking a joint--RIGHT ON THE STREET! Of course, always one to think the best of someone, I assumed they all had Oregon Medical Marijuana prescriptions and that all was right with the world.

I remember the first time I smelled marijuana was at a cub scout meeting, where the town's drug policeman came in and talked to us about the horrors that would befall us if we ever started smoking pot. To help us recognize it, he finished off by lighting a bowl of seized marijuana. One of the scouts smelled it and said, "My grandpa smokes that in his PIPE!" We lived in a small town, and everybody knows everybody else there, so I wonder if the policeman had a little visit with the boy's grandpa after the meeting?