Thursday, August 31, 2006

This melts even my cold, dead heart

That same nephew and his mother were once on their way home from my parents’ house one evening, and Big Sister #3 wanted to keep Four-Year-Old Nephew awake during the ride. “Let’s play the word game,” she said. (I had recently taught him to play the word-association game.) “I’ll start, she said. Night.”

“Moon,” came the reply.





“Papa,” said Big Sister #3.

There was a tiny pause, and he replied, “Funny.”


A slightly longer pause.


He just wanted to make her happy

Big Sister #3 emailed this story this morning, and I was instructed by my mother not to change a word.

Your four-year-old nephew just asked me to come to the living room to see something "GREAT." He had drawn all over the floor in blue chalk. Not a huge deal to clean up, but she told him he should only draw on paper. He said "I'm sorry Mom, I was just trying to make you happy."

She said, “No problem, just next time use paper.”

He was quiet for a few minutes and then said it again: "I'm sorry, I was just trying to make you happy." She said not to worry about it. He said, "I'm sorry I drew on the floor." She told him it’s OK.

Then he said, "Well, I'm sorry I drew on that pillow and on the couch and on my fish bowl and on the telephone and on the telephone table and on the chair and on the pooh table and on the exerciser (step) and on the TV and on the bookcase and on the VCR and on the wall. I'm sorry. I just wanted to make you happy."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yes, they come in five-pound bags

When we were planning our wedding, The Husband and I discussed whether or not we would have favors. As a rule, I am generally opposed to favors. This is because I am a big crank with a cold dead heart.

We were leaning towards having no favors at all when I said, “The best favor I ever got was two Lindt chocolate truffles because you didn’t have to take it home. You got to eat it!” And then, lightning struck. “I know!” I shouted. “We should give out M&Ms, but we should give The Doktah all orange ones!”

What followed was an elaborate set up wherein we had to figure out how we could ensure that The Doktah would get the box of all-orange M&Ms. We decided to buy some white ring boxes from a jeweler and use them as place cards. We would write people’s names and table numbers on the lids and fill the boxes with M&Ms. The next step, then, was to figure out how many pounds of M&Ms we had to buy. We didn’t want to overbuy and be stuck with tons of extra candy. Delicious, delicious candy that I would be unable to stop myself from eating.

In what, to me, is a perfectly logical way to go about this, The Husband and I bought a normal, candy-counter sized bag of M&Ms. We noted the net weight of the candy, and then counted how many M&Ms there were in the bag. From this, we determined the weight of one M&M. Next, we filled one of the ring boxes with a reasonable amount of M&Ms and counted how many it took. One simple conversion later, and we were able to determine the weight of M&Ms we needed in order to fill all the ring boxes1.

We did these calculations at my parents’ kitchen table, and they and my sister thought it was the funniest thing they ever saw. “I can’t believe you are doing it that way!” they said, laughing at us. “Well, that’s what happens when you let engineers do things,” they mocked.

“Well, how would you do it?” I asked them.

They told me, but here’s the thing. I can’t remember what they said. Because, to me, the way we did it was perfectly reasonable, and I really can’t think of any other way to do it. When I tell this story to my other engineering friends, they are all on my side. The Doktah, for example, said, “But how else would you figure out how many M&Ms you need?”

So, Internet, how would you have figured it out?

1We figured out that we’d need somewhere between 10 and 15 pounds of M&Ms, so The Husband bought three 5-pound bags. Naturally, he left these in New Jersey when he came home for the wedding, and we had to buy three more 5-pound bags. That meant we were stuck with fifteen pounds of M&Ms when we got back from our honeymoon. I sent one bag into The Husband’s work and single-handedly ate my way through a second bag in an embarrassingly short amount of time. (It’s just that each small handful of M&Ms is so small! And doesn’t even make a dent in the five pounds! It looks like I haven’t eaten any!) We threw the third bag away, and I am no longer allowed to have M&Ms in the house.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


A side effect of pregnancy that people don’t necessarily tell you about is that getting into bed becomes a major engineering project with pillows. We recently had to buy another pillow, because we only had five, four of which were mine. For the first 30 weeks, I used three and The Husband got the other two, but last week I had to commandeer the fourth one. Frankly, he was lucky I let him keep the last one for himself. Because I am very uncomfortable.

If I lie on my back, I need all the pillows to prop me up sufficiently so that the baby doesn’t squish my lungs and suffocate me. And if I lie on either side, I need a pillow between my knees and one supporting my stomach so the baby doesn’t pull to one side and tear my stomach from my body. (Which probably wouldn’t happen, but Lord, it feels like it will.) Once I’m in a position I stay there, so I have to take advantage of every nighttime trip to the bathroom and use the opportunity to switch between positions. Thus, getting back into bed involves much rearranging of pillows and grunting until I finally get settled.

Fortunately, I am not as stupid at night as I am while unrolling rugs, and have not yet tried to sleep on my stomach.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tile Man

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please.

We have an appointment with the tile guy for Friday. After he finishes, we’ll get to install the – gasp – bathroom sink! And the shower head! And the washing machine!

I will keep you posted.

Have you ever tried to lie down on a basketball?

Yesterday, The Husband and I were unrolling the carpet in the baby’s room. (Aside: Woo! The baby’s room is now painted and cleared of non-baby stuff – except for boxes of books we still have to deal with – and ready for the crib and accoutrements! Woo!) Since I am seven months pregnant, he was doing all the heavy lifting and my job was to hold the unrolled end of the carpet in place. I figured I’d take the opportunity to lie down on the new soft and plushy carpet, so I did. Except I totally forgot I was pregnant and tried to lie down on my stomach.

That didn’t work.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Party time

When the bathroom remodel is finished, The Husband and I are going to host a series of dinner parties for our friends and family.

And we plan to server dinner in the bathroom.

And then you’ll need to schedule the rough wallpapering inspection…

So why is the bathroom remodel taking so long you ask? Well, first of all, we’re doing the work after work. So we only have a few hours a night. Second of all, our electrician works painfully slowly. Painfully. And lastly, we keep running into problems like our current one, where all work must halt until we can locate the special fire-resistant insulation the inspector told us to get.

See, when we scheduled the rough building inspection, the inspector mentioned that in order to pass the upcoming insulation inspection (which he refused to do at the same time as the rough building inspection), we would have to use a specific fire-resistant insulation around our new tub and inside the chase that runs through the pantry. He said it was called “Rock Wall” or something.

“OK, fine,” we thought, and The Husband went looking for it at Home Depot. But they didn’t have any. And no one there had heard of it. So he called around a bunch of hardware stores, and no one had ever heard of it. So he asked our carpenter, who had never heard of it. Our carpenter asked the other carpenters, contractors, and builders at his day job. No one had heard of it. The Husband resorted to the internet. And voila, he found it! There was just one tiny snag. The only supplier was located in Denmark.

So yesterday, The Husband called the inspector and asked him if he knew where to buy this special insulation. “I’m not going to have it shipped internationally,” he said. Now, you might expect city hall to have a list of suppliers of the special insulation that they require people to buy. Don’t be an idiot. The inspector had no idea where to find it. He ended up having to consult with the other city inspectors, and finally, with a team of 3 people searching for 6 hours, they were able to come up with one location in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire which sell something acceptable.

So this morning, The Husband had to get up at the crack of dawn in order to have time to drive to New Hampshire and purchase the special insulation. He is going to try to get the inspector to come today and sign off on the insulation inspection before we actually install the fire-resistant stuff so that either tonight or tomorrow, we can insulate and finish putting up the ceiling and walls.

I’m sure it will be all downhill from there.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You mean teachers exist outside of the classroom?

Last night, The Doktah called to tell me about a moral dilemma she was having. She is preparing to teach her first class, “Heat and Mass Transfer,” and she told me she realized that she is going to have to tell her students that the Del Operator is useful.

“Which one is that again?” I asked.

“Exactly!” she replied. “It’s the upside down delta that takes the derivative with respect to the normal vector,” she added. “You use it for flux?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “I sort of remember that.”

“Yeah, and I’m going to have to tell them, ‘Oh, you’ll use this all the time. In fact, I’m always talking about the Del Operator with my chemical engineering buddies.’”

“Well you can tell them you were just talking about it last night,” I pointed out. “You can even say how you and your chemical engineering friend were discussing just how useful the Del Operator is.”

The Doktah laughed, then sighed. “I understand this stuff really well on a freshman level,” she said, “but I’m worried that they are going to ask me really hard questions about it.”

We then shared our recent anxiety dreams with each other. Mine are about how I’m going to have to take care of a baby soon. Hers are about teaching. “Yeah, I dream that I prepared for the wrong class, or that my lecture notes only last for ten minutes.”

It’s funny, because as a student, it never occurs to you that the teacher is just as nervous as you are. Probably more so. But in fact, teaching is probably one of the scariest professions out there, at least for the first couple of years.

Oh, glorious day

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, last night, The Husband hooked up The Dishwasher. And we ran a "load." (We only had about 5 dishes, but we were going to run the cycle no matter what.) This morning, there was a lot of, "I'm just going to put this dirty breakfast dish in the dishwasher," going on.

Maybe this whole remodeling thing wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Thanks, B!

A helpful friend told me the secret code for fixing my numbered list. Yay!

Monday, August 21, 2006

HTML woes

I do not understand why the post below this one is a bulleted list instead of numbered list. I did everything right to make a numbered list. I double-checked the tags for making numbered lists in HTML. And in the "Preview" window on Blogger, the list below is, in fact, a numbered list. And yet. There it is, bulleted.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter, and I have to let it go because I cannot spend the rest of the day fruitlessly trying to correct something that can't be corrected. But still. It rankles.

I feel the same way when my checkbook is off by thirteen cents. On the one hand, who cares. On the other hand, why doesn't it balance, dammit!

Ten tips on remodeling a bathroom

  1. Have you thought about just keeping the bathroom you already have? Is it really that bad?
  2. If you insist on remodeling the bathroom, have an infinite supply of money so that you can hire people to do it for you while you vacation in Hawaii. If you do not have an infinite supply of money, see Tip #1.
  3. As you have already heard from everyone else in the world, plan a budget and then double it.
  4. Do the same thing to estimate how long it will take.
  5. Unfortunately, you are still underestimating how long it will take. Yes, you’ve already calculated how long and then doubled it, but you’re still wrong. It will take longer than that. It will take longer than you can possibly imagine.
  6. Copper wiring costs way more than you think. Probably 1000 time more. Copper wiring is probably the third most expensive item you have to buy, after the new tub and new vanity. And that’s assuming you don't skimp on the tub and vanity.
  7. Try to only remodel bathrooms in houses built since 1980, as there will be no dreaded “knob and tube” wiring to update.
  8. Avoid remodeling the bathroom while you or your wife is pregnant.
  9. Avoid crashing your car while undergoing the bathroom remodel.
  10. Consider just moving instead. Think about it.

Week 9

Dear Bathroom Remodel,

Ah, Bathroom Remodel. As The Husband and I enter our tenth week living with the chaos you have inflicted upon our lives, I find myself looking back with a knowing, condescending smile on the naïve optimism we displayed in June when this all started. Back then, we thought you would be finished by mid July, leaving us plenty of time and money to also replace the kitchen walls by August. I know. We were so cute.

Yes, we gave up on the pipe dream of new kitchen walls about a month ago. And I have to admit that it was a not insubstantial relief, as the thought of dragging out our construction-zone living for any stretch of time was making us feel almost physically ill. Because we are no longer naïve, Bathroom Remodel. For even though replacing the kitchen walls with help from our generous friends and family should, in theory, take only one or two weekends, we now know that theory is for suckers. We fully expect to find wiring that dates back to before electricity was discovered, and bringing it all up to code will take two months.

Yes, the electrical work has been our rate-limiting step, Bathroom Remodel. It was also the most frustrating of all to witness, because, even after hours of hard work by The Husband and the electrician, nothing ever seemed to change. Work was being done, but I couldn’t see it. Equally frustrating was the electrician’s hesitance to give any kind of estimate of how many more days the work would take. So we were just waiting in a sort of limbo until we heard the magical words, “We’re ready for the rough electrical inspection.”

And, oh! Bathroom Remodel! When the electrician spoke those words last week we nearly danced for joy. We scheduled the inspection for the following Wednesday, and as an added bonus, the inspector allowed us a variance on the bizarre requirement that any electrical fixture has to be at least eight feet away from the top of the tub. Eight feet is a very long distance, Bathroom Remodel. So long a distance that my father thinks it is a typo in the code. I know of a great many bathrooms, not even particularly small bathrooms, where such a requirement would prohibit any light fixture in the bathroom at all.

But we got the variance, the inspector cleared us for further work, and we were able to schedule the rough building inspection. We passed that as well, leaving only the rough insulation inspection keeping us from finishing the room. Yes, I said “insulation inspection.” Bureaucracy is a crazy thing, Bathroom Remodel.

Still, The Husband installed the controversial light fixture last Friday, and he and the carpenter put up the ceiling and the walls on Saturday. Walls, Bathroom Remodel! You have walls! That are solid! It was a red letter day for us all, Bathroom Remodel. And tonight, The Husband plans to hook up… The Dishwasher. Oh glorious, glorious day. (He would have hooked it up on Saturday, but it turns out dishwashers do not come with electrical cords. No one told us that. You just expect electrical appliance to come with cords.)

Soon, oh so tantalizingly soon, the pantry cabinets can be rehung and we will be able to clear the dining room table of the piles and piles of plates, bowls, and pans. Then the tile guy will work his magic, and the sink, the bathroom sink, can be installed. And the shower head! We’ll be able to shower!

As painful as this process was, the finished product, the completed Bathroom Remodel, will be worth it. And we’ll never have to do it again. You will be so beautiful, Bathroom Remodel. I may never leave the room.

An interesting result of a major home renovation project, Bathroom Remodel, is that the “To-Do” list of home renovations gets much shorter for two reasons. First, the completed renovation project gets crossed off the list. Second, two or three other planned renovations get crossed off the list because the homeowners have reevaluated their priorities. When we bought the house, we planned to finish the attic, Bathroom Remodel. Not so much anymore.

Because, if we did it right, we would have to install a second bathroom.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Next they’ll expect me to buy two pairs of pants

This week, I finally had to cave in and buy some new, bigger, maternity shirts. This is because, over the past two weeks or so, I have suddenly and alarmingly grown rather large. I am most definitely no longer at the “She may just be fat” stage. I am quite clearly pregnant. (I am still stubbornly refusing to buy new pants, insisting instead on spending the day hitching my pants back up. I will not cave! Until the pants actually fall off! This is partly because I am cheap, but mostly because finding maternity pants that fit is more painful even than finding regular pants that fit, and I just can’t deal with it.)

Anyway, I did find a bunch of shirts at Kohl’s that fit and were on clearance, so that was good. I didn’t find any fall shirts, though, because the new maternity shirts out for fall are all see through. I know! I’m already begrudgingly handing over money for shirts that I don’t really like that much that I will only be wearing for a few months, and now they want me to find a second shirt to wear underneath each one? Not that they had any handy, mind you. So even if I were willing to buy a see-through maternity shirt with a matching maternity tank top or camisole, they didn’t have any maternity tank tops or camisoles. Just see-through shirts.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Arrrr, matey

I was talking to The Doktah last night, and we discussed the possibility of her wearing an eye patch on September 19, which is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. I was skeptical that, as an actual professor, she could get away with it. “Don’t you have to be all professional or something now that you are in a position of authority?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I mean, on my most casual day, when I wear jeans, I still look far better than The P.I. used to look on his best day.”

“That may be true,” I said, “but there is a difference between the look of ‘Absentminded, Schlumpy, Chalk-stained, Untucked Professor’ and that of ‘Insane Professor Inexplicably Wearing an Eye Patch.’”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

At least I can be reasonably sure he won’t fall out of a tree and break his ribs

I have recently bestowed a new nickname upon The Husband: “Charles.” Sometimes I call him “Pa” as well, after Charles “Pa” Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie.

See, a couple of months ago Big Sister #1 lent me a whole bunch of DVDs to help distract me when I was feeling nauseous. Among them were Seasons 1 and 2 of Little House. I was psyched; The Husband… not so much. He had actually never even seen a full episode of Little House, what with being of the male gender and all. But I love that show, especially the early ones when Mary and Laura were little. In fact, when we were in Miami, I happened upon an old episode about halfway through and forced The Husband to stay in the hotel room with me until it was over. It was the one where Laura and Nellie both have a crush on the same boy. There is a lot of angst and drama –well, Little House versions of angst and drama – but at the end, the boy chooses Laura and all is well. The boy was the huge focus of the episode. When it was over, I said, “And he was never on the show again.” This totally surprised The Husband who is accustomed to modern television shows which worry about things like “continuity,” so he assumed that this boy would have become a semi-regular character or something. But that is not how Little House rolled. Hey, you have to remember that Ma became pregnant, had the baby, and the baby became ill and died a few weeks later… all in one episode. And the baby was never mentioned again.

Still, I love it, and I watched all of Season 1 in order. The Husband watched some of them with me and, much to his and my surprise, enjoyed them. He’s not exactly begging to watch the next episode or anything, but he did like the ones he saw. He also caught on to the way the show worked very quickly: The second or third episode starts with Pa walking in his wheat field, which is almost ready for harvest. Pa gazes at the golden stalks in proud satisfaction, then lifts his eyes to the heavens and says, “Thank you, God. Thank you.” At this point, The Husband turned to me and said, “He’s not harvesting that wheat, is he.” Sure enough, the ruinous hailstorm came in the very next scene.

The Husband learned how things went for the Ingalls in the first episode which was about the family getting settled in Walnut Grove. Pa had to build the family a house, but he had to work at the mill in order to pay for the lumber. So the show followed Pa as he worked 8 hours at the mill in town, came home and worked on building the house. When the house was done, he had to fix another guy’s roof and stack his grain in exchange for use of his plow, using his oxen as collateral. So once again, he had to build all day and plow all night. I explained to The Husband that Pa was hard core. I mean, the man built a house by himself, in the dark, without power tools. He wasn’t what you would call “lazy.”

Then of course there was some drama where Ma convinced Pa to take one lousy afternoon off and Pa climbed a tree to retrieve a kite and fell out and broke his ribs, which meant he was unable to finish stacking the grain, which meant that the plow-owner was going to take the Ingalls’ oxen. Fortunately, all the friends Pa had made in Walnut Grove came to help stack the grain. They got to keep their oxen and the plow-owner was properly shamed.

So why do I call The Husband Charles? Because for the last two months, The Husband has been going to work all day and then coming home and building the bathroom all night. He’d stop at nine, and we would watch one episode of 24 on DVD. Then he would go to bed and be asleep by 10:30. Since the DVDs have no commercials, this means that The Husband was getting 44 minutes off every day. 44 lousy minutes. He has not been able to work on the bathroom for the past four days while we waited for the rough electrical inspection, but that just meant that he had to spend the evenings painting the nursery instead.

But! The inspection was this morning! And we passed! We are so close to being finished with the bathroom that we can taste it. Of course, when the bathroom is finished, The Husband will no longer have a built-in distraction to take his mind off the fact that a baby is coming to live at our house in approximately 10 weeks. A fact that scares the bejeezus out of both of us to no end.

Friday, August 11, 2006

My future?

Lately I’ve been reading Miss Manners’ archived letters at the Washington Post. Naturally, questions about thank you notes and Christmas cards come up quite often. One writer, for example, asked if thank you notes can be skipped when the gifts come during hectic times. Naturally, Miss Manners had to inform that Gentle Reader that busyness is no excuse for neglecting thank you notes. Since most gifts are given specifically at hectic times in people’s lives – for births, weddings, and during the holidays – that rule would ensure that no thank you notes are ever required.

Given my tendency to borrow trouble, I started to think about having to write thank you notes for baby gifts after the baby is born. I also started to wonder how I’d manage to send out Christmas cards this year since I will have a three-month-old by then. Now I’m not trying to weasel out of anything; nor am I implying, “Oh, poor me, I’ll have a baby and can therefore do nothing else.” I realize I am not the first woman to ever have a baby, and that life is going to continue to progress even though I have a newborn. No, I bring this up merely as a segue for the following anecdote.

My brother was born in November, and he was seven weeks premature. My mom tells me that he had to eat every two hours, and it took him an hour to eat. Yes, that means my mother was feeding my brother every other hour, all day and all night. This was on top of taking care of the two little girls she already had. Needles to say, she was a bit tired.

Nevertheless, she soldiered on and used one of her precious “free” hours to write Christmas cards. She got stumped while addressing one of them, paused, and asked my father, “What is your mother’s last name again?”

I should probably clarify that my grandmother had not, in fact, remarried after my grandfather died. Nor was she so far ahead of her time that she kept her maiden name two generations before such a thing was even heard of. In short, my grandmother’s last name was the same as my father’s and mother’s.

My father, bless him, took the pen out of my mother’s hand and said, “That’s it. You are going to bed. People are just going to have to go without Christmas cards this year.”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

VCR? What's a VCR?

When I was about ten, my cousins, Big Sister #4 and I used to play “Clue the VCR game.” It was really fun, and yes, you could play it more than once. There was some sort of clever system that combined the scenes in different orders and used different clues. I’m sure there was a finite number of times you could play it before you knew all the solutions, but I don’t think we ever reached the limit.

At any rate, I was telling my three eldest nieces about this once. “Yeah, we used to play ‘Clue the VCR game’ all the time,” I said.

They were confused. “You mean the computer game?” Eldest Niece asked.

“No, it was a VCR game,” I said.

“But you played it on the computer, right?” said Muffet Niece.

“No, the VCR.”

They thought about this.

“You mean on the Playstation?” asked Pixie Niece.

“No!” I said. “It was a video tape! For the VCR! ‘Clue the VCR Game'!”

There was a pause.

“So, for, like, X-box?”

Further tales of the selfless in-laws

When I first started my current job, I moved back to Massachusetts for two months while The Husband stayed at his old job. During that time, I stayed with my in-laws because they live only five miles from my current place of employment. On the weekends, The Husband and I took turns driving back and forth the five hours to see each other. Because he and I shared one car, I had to borrow my mother-in-law’s car when I went to visit him.

Upon returning from one of these visits, I stopped for gas right before getting back to the house because I wanted to make sure the tank was as full as possible when I returned the car. I did this because I know that it is very bad form to borrow someone’s car for a 400-mile round trip and bring it back empty. Then, when I pulled into the garage at the in-laws’, Father-in-law came rushing out to the car and asked for the keys.

“Why, where are you going?” I asked him.

“I want to fill it up at the nearby gas station while it’s still Sunday; the gas is five cents off on Sundays,” he replied.

“Oh, I already filled it,” I told him.

Well, he was just flabbergasted. “You filled it?” he asked, completely surprised.

I was disconcerted as to why he was so shocked. “Of course I filled it,” I said. “I’m not going to return a car with an empty tank!” But just as in the case of the ride home, he and Mother-in-law would have thought absolutely none the worse of me had I coasted into the driveway on vapors. I’m starting to think that I could have returned a car covered in dents and mud from my off-road drag-racing adventures, and they would have thought that was fine too.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The nicest guy in Hollywood

Tom Hanks was on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me this weekend, and it reminded me of The Husband’s and my trip to Los Angeles last October. We went to a friend’s wedding in Long Beach and spent the next day at with two of my college housemates, N. and B., and N.’s husband P, who live in L.A. Since we only had one day in L.A., I wanted to take a cheesy bus tour to make sure we saw the requisite sights.

While on the bus tour, B. of all people filled us in on some Hollywood gossip. I say “of all people,” because B. is just about the last person you would ever expect to know or care about Hollywood gossip, but I guess the gossip just invades your life when you live there, so you can’t help but be aware of it. She mentioned that from everything she’s heard, Tom Hanks is just as nice in real life as he appears to be in films and interviews.

“You know, my father is going to meet Tom Hanks,” The Husband said, casually.

“What?” I exclaimed.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” said The Husband. The Husband is quite notorious for forgetting to tell me trivial little details such as “My mother’s birthday is on Saturday*,” or “We are going to my cousin’s house this weekend,” or “My dad is close friends with Tom Hanks.” See, Father-in-law runs a NASA-associated educational center, and they were going to premier a new educational movie or something that Tom Hanks helped produce. Or something. I wasn’t too sure about the details because I was still reeling from the news that I am only 2 degrees from Tom Hanks (and therefore 3 degrees from Kevin Bacon).

So then The Husband added, “Actually, I think he said we could go to the premiere if you want. Do you want to meet Tom Hanks?”

Was he kidding me? Did I want to meet Tom Hanks? “Yes! Yes I want to meet Tom Hanks!” I shouted. “When is it? Can we really go?”

The Husband tried to remember. “Oh… wait, I think we may have missed it already.” Which, as it turned out, we had.

When I am 80, I’ll probably still be telling our grandchildren, “You know, your grandfather and I could have met Tom Hanks, but he blew it.”

*Before you suggest it, I have since acquired a list of all relevant birthdays from Mother-in-law and input them into my Palm Pilot.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Last weekend I was at my parents’ house, and I noticed some footprints on their dining room rug. They were very small footprints. But here’s the thing: They were footprints of cleanliness, surrounded by dirt. I’m not exactly sure how they were formed. It’s as though a small person (judging from the size, it was probably two-year-old Youngest Grandson), who was dirty everywhere but the bottom of his feet, stood still and shook.

While I was at their house, this very same Youngest Grandson was sternly instructed by his mother not to “pop those peas.” You see, he was sitting at the table with a serving of peas – his favorite – quietly singing “Pop! Goes the Weasel” to himself and tossing a pea in the air with every “Pop!”

Monday, August 07, 2006

Solid cherry

So it turns out the “kitchenette” was not an island, but a set of counters appropriate for our pantry/sink area. The carpenter, upon seeing that we had already bought the Formica countertop and are using our old cabinets, cleverly resized to fit by The Husband (but it was totally my idea to cut the double cabinet unit in half so we could fit the dishwasher and maximize cabinet space), decided not to even bother showing us the picture of the kitchenette. Which is apparently made of solid cherry, so there is no way we’d be able to afford it. Do you have any idea how much solid cherry cabinets would cost? I’ll tell you how much. TOO MUCH. We once saw a tiny nightstand made of solid cherry for $600! On sale!

Still, I’m not knocking our carpenter, who is hardworking and fast and doing us a favor by working on our remodel. And also, he actually offered to give, not sell, us that piece of granite for our countertop, so he really is trying to help us out. But still. Solid cherry.

Friday, August 04, 2006

We are not remodeling the kitchen!

The carpenter we hired to help us with the bathroom remodel is the brother of a woman The Husband works with. He’s been fantastic, and is also giving us a deal on his rates, so we can’t complain. Nor would we, because he’s really great. The only problem we have had with him is that he keeps trying to “save us money” by getting us to purchase things like granite countertops, fancy tile floors, and now, apparently, a “kitchenette.”

You see, because we knocked through the wall between the pantry and the bathroom, we had to rotate the kitchen sink and move around the pantry cabinets. We also had to rip up the floor in the pantry. Rotating the kitchen sink meant that we had to purchase a new countertop, because the sink hole was on the wrong side of the old countertop. Tearing up the floor in the pantry, which was the same as the flooring in the kitchen, meant that we have to lay down new flooring in the pantry. The carpenter spent a lot of time trying to convince The Husband to get really nice tiles to put down in there, on the premise that the new pantry is only about 18 square feet, so even the most expensive tiles, say, $9/tile, wouldn’t cost us that much. True. Except that, when we recover from the expenses of the bathroom remodel and are finally able to replace the floor in the kitchen, we want it to match the pantry floor. Our kitchen is an enormous 304 square feet. At $9/tile, this would cost $2736 in tiles alone, and that doesn’t take into account the labor of laying 304 square feet of tile, or the extra costs of grout, moulding, etc. So instead, we bought the cheapest inoffensive peel-n-stick tiles we could find for a grand total of…. $18. They’re only until we can redo the whole kitchen floor, after all.

The carpenter also tried to talk us into buying new cabinets for the pantry. Cabinets are crazy expensive, and, again, we’d really like the pantry and kitchen cabinets to match. So anything we bought for the pantry we’d ultimately have to get for the kitchen.

Then he tried to sell us a nice piece of granite, cheap, for our pantry countertop. That’s all well and good, but, once again, the kitchen and the pantry should match! So if we buy a granite countertop for the pantry, when it comes time to add cabinets and countertops to the kitchen, we’d be screwed. We got Formica. $60.

Tomorrow, the carpenter coming over so he and The Husband can frame out something in the pantry with 2x4’s and stuff insulation behind the tub. Apparently, he is bringing a picture of a “kitchenette” that he has handy and can sell us cheap. I don’t know what he means by “kitchenette,” but my guess is that it’s some kind of island. Now, our kitchen would be fantastic with an island, and our ultimate plan is to put one in. But we’re not going to do that until we remodel the kitchen. Right now, we are remodeling the bathroom. The bathroom! Not the kitchen! The pantry is merely a side effect of the bathroom! Stop trying to get us to remodel the kitchen at the same time!

I understand that the carpenter is only trying to do us a favor by saving us money on these great deals, but no matter how cheap this “kitchenette” turns out to be, it will not be as cheap as “free,” and that means we can’t afford it. Because we’re in the middle of a kind of expensive bathroom remodel right now.

The saga continues

I was just checking my stats, and someone found my site through a Google search of "infinity cancel out."


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Canceling infinity - posted sort of late

I don't know why I never posted this back when I wrote it in October, but I'm posting it now.

Surprisingly, my post about taking limits hit almost as many nerves as the ones about Dunkin' Donuts. Anonymous, for example, got all up in my grill and may have called me stupid, but I can't be sure because his/her comment is unclear. And, amusingly, my friend told me that when she read the post to her husband, he, too, got all upset about my "plugging in" and "canceling" infinity. Because you can't! You can't cancel infinity! What about the limit of sin(x)/x as x approaches 0?, hmm? WHAT THEN? ("Yeah!" The Husband is probably shouting as he reads this.)

So, yeah, Friend's Husband has a point. Sometimes you have to use L'Hopital's rule first. But eventually, just plug in infinity and roll with it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What KIND of turtle?

The Doktah’s thesis was on red blood cells and nuclei. This has always amused me, because red blood cells are the only eukaryotic cells without nuclei. (Yes, yes, The Doktah, chicken red blood cells have nuclei. We know.) At any rate, she once found a paper on the bending modulus of the red blood cell membrane in various warm- and cold-blooded animals. They had a table listing the modulus for snakes, mice, rats, and three kinds of turtles.

That always seemed excessive to us. Three kinds of turtles? Were they really that different? We imagined the following scenario:

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Quick! I need to know the bending modulus of the red blood cell of a turtle!

GRAD STUDENT: (flipping frantically through the paper) What kind? WHAT KIND OF TURTLE?