Top 10 Tips for your Next Power Outage

I’m a willing slave
To amps, volts, joules, things with plugs;
So lost when they go…
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Around 5pm Friday, a mere 30 minutes before I made my way home through fallen branches and strewn-about leaves, the power left my street. Gone. Caput. Not a downed tree in sight, but that didn’t matter. We were on our own.

As with most calamities, one of which I describe in this posting on a car breakdown, there are several stages one goes through as the event continues on. This post is really an after-event learning summary… tips I’ve gleaned from 21 hours of a power outage.

1. Give your house some credit. By the end, the temp was only up 5 degrees downstairs and 7 degrees upstairs. Mind you such temperature shifts have caused ice ages in our evolutionary history, but in an old house, with no insulation, these thick plaster walls did us a favor. Thanks house.

2. In spring and summer, when strong storms are common, I recommend checking the weather channel before going on a big grocery shop. It will minimize your losses considerably.

3. Don’t assume the dog won’t jump out the front, screen-less window just because she won’t jump out of the parked car.

4. Never lose hope that electricity will mysteriously return to just a single room. Keep flicking the switch each and every time your enter it. Statistically speaking, you are bound to be right at some point.

5.  Go ahead and open the damn fridge. By hour 15, when you are emptying the thing into coolers, your trepidation at opening it a half day before will seem silly.  At hour 1, open it. The thing will either come on soon enough that it won’t matter, or so far from now that you will have solved the problem by then. Either way, the outcome is the same.

6. Don’t drink all the beer too early in the process, or make sure you have enough to take the edge off for a while. You need to buzz to take you all the way to bedtime, not just help you navigate request after request to play “paper airplane versus king kong” with your 5 year old, his imaginative, no-plug-required game just for just the two of you.

7. Never, ever, inspect your skin in a magnifying mirror in the dark with an LED flashlight. You will find more facial hair than a Russian weight-lifter, decide it is all pitch black and that anyone who says you looks great for your age is a lying bastard. Don’t do it. No good will come from it.

8. I cannot recommend walking past an open bedroom window naked, silhouetted by a flashlight. You thought you looked like crap in the bathroom…

9. When, during your mad scramble to save food into coolers at hour 15, you purge year-old salsa, mustards, 3 bottles of half full Italian dressing, and some strange Asian sauce, try not to dump 2 jars of pickles down the disposal before you remember there is a power outage.

10. Once the power is back on, and you decide to clean the fridge for the first time in *mumble* months, resist the urge to inspect the crumbly bits in the back or the sticky stuff in the bottom of the meat drawer. You really don’t want to go there.
There you go. Upon reflection, apparently the only thing I really cared about during the last day was keeping food cold and proper flashlight positioning. And beer.  That isn’t too far off a normal day after all…
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The Simplicity of Men

Man’s simplicity
Brings joy, laughter, easiness;
Yet often ignored.
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Happy (belated) Fathers Day to all the men out there who are dads. And if you don’t have children, well, happy guy day. Because I think we need to celebrate guys. As a genus, I am very fond of them. There are some species and subspecies that I think are a**holes (like ones who hurt women, kids and each other), but I choose to believe they are few and far between.

One reason I like them so much is they are simple beings, really. Food, water, sex and the gratification of a hobby are about all you need to provide Man.  If that just offended you I implore you to listen: I like men. I really, really do.  But you are simple. (Example: How many men just read that last line “I like men. I really, really do” and went instantly to some whore-like thought? Some of you, for sure… that’s what I mean. You are simple and predictable… fun.)

(I feel compelled to clarify: I don’t sleep around; I am happily married and faithful…despite my lustings for bathrobe man and running boy…)

My dearest exemplifies this simplicity often. Case in point:  on his birthday back in March, I had a fever, the baby sitter canceled, no date night…  his birthday was shaping up poorly… and I asked “What can I do to make your birthday special?” knowing he had all these strikes against him.

“Pole dance. Check! I can whip up the pole pretty quick,” he deadpanned. Relative to the answer I expected — cough cough coblowjobugh cough cough — this was quite original.  And just another example of the wonderful, simple, predictable Man.

Some women don’t appreciate this. They want men who can read minds, anticipate their feelings, pay full attention during the 4th quarter. These women are insane and clearly so high maintenance they shouldn’t breed.  Men can’t read minds. You have to tell them what you want. And you know what? I have found if the request is reasonable, they’ll deliver.  I told my beloved that our wedding anniversary was a mandatory flower-giving event. The only one in our calendar. I could have have chosen to not tell him and then get pissed off when he gave me only candy or a card, but I didn’t — I told him. I did so because he said once “men typically don’t want to piss women off… just tell us what’s going on…”. So I did. And 19 years strong, he is still delivering the goods.

So to those women out there who live their lives disappointed in the men they claim to love, step back and count your blessings. Learn to laugh and be grateful for the companionship of one so easy to understand. Be clear what you want (but don’t push it…). And I think you’ll find they’ll do right by you. Learn to appreciate how they love you; how they love their children (even if it isn’t how you would do it); learn to love how they fold your shirts (even it if isn’t how you would do it).

And if that doesn’t work, install the pole and I’m guessing they’ll forget all the other bitchin’.

Addendum: Since this post is about guys, I asked Frank to read this. His concern was that it made him/other guys seem shallow. This is not my intent. I think relationship-wise, Man is simple. But this doesn’t preclude depth of feeling, depth of intelligence, depth of capability across all the domains of life.  More reason to love Man: depth and simplicity, a lovely combo.

My Life as a Borg

The tiredness descends:
Like a fog it surrounds me
Chokes the light, the life.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was with some amount of kicking and silent screaming that I went to the sleep center for an evaluation. “Who me? Sleep Apnea? No way…” I kept repeating.  But 3 skeptical looks from the sleep doctor while taking my personal history, and one terrifying bit of understanding later, I had booked a sleep study. Although unenthusiastic, I felt the best way to silence everyone was to take the damn test.

The test was actually fun. Well, fun in the “I’ve never done this before so might as well enjoy it” kind of way. The staff was lighthearted. I had my own room with a TV and no other family members… it felt a little like summer camp, only a summer camp where they hook you up to machines via wires attached all over your body.  That would be a creepy summer camp if I didn’t look so hysterical.

I took a picture of myself all wired up which I will NOT share here, or ever. I was fully clothed in my PJs and you could clearly see I had things attached to my face, my head and my chest under my shirt.  There were wires down my legs and attached to my shins.  I had two black belts wrapped around my body above and below the girls, which trust me was one of the least attractive things I have ever seen in my life.   When I saw myself in the mirror I burst out laughing and immediately took a picture and sent it to Frank. His reply was simple and to the point. “I want you.”

As you will accurately imagine, sleeping in a strange bed, with wires all over you, keenly aware that there is a low light video camera watching you and people listening to you sleep is a little on the difficult side. Took about an hour to fall asleep even with the help of a lovely little Rx. Imagine my surprise and dismay, then, when what seemed like 15 minutes later, the tech came in and woke me up.

“We’re going to go ahead and have you sleep with the CPAP machine,” she said.

Uh-oh, I thought. They prepped me for this. If this happened, it meant that I clearly was testing positive for sleep apnea and they wanted to see how I did with the mask on.

“Okay.” I mumbled. How in god’s name was I going to sleep with all the wires and Darth Vader mask on my face. These people had moved from being lighthearted and kind to unrealistic jerks. And then I asked a question.

“So I must have stopped breathing some then, huh? How many times did it happen?”

“In the last two and a half hours, about 50 times an hour.”

Long pause.

“50? Like five zero?” Praying I mis-heard one-five…

“Yes, five-zero.”

Holy be-jeebers. “Where’s the machine…”

Thus began my life as a sufferer of sleep apnea. The next 4 hours were entirely restful – yes, restful —  mask, wires, cameras and all. The next day, surely it was in my head, I had a tremendous amount of energy. I started to think about how tired I was all the time — the tired that is just below the surface which I have always been master of — could it be that that feeling might go away? And that the energy that people always remark that I have naturally (I don’t use caffeine) might get even higher?

Two weeks ago I got the official results of the test — talk about eye-opening and depressing.  I’m not sure how I was functioning on a daily basis if that test was any indication of my normal sleep quality.  And now I’m here, 2 weeks into sleeping each night with Snuffy, as in Snuffaluffagus (my name for my CPAP machine) to tell you that I feel great.  Yes, I have more energy. No, I don’t feel dead dog tired as often as I used to.  There have been only a few drawbacks, if you want to call them that. One, Frank says that now I am freakishly quiet and still while sleeping. He’s had over 19 years of snoring to deal with — and snoring more in the 18 wheeler range than the Ford Focus  range. Now I sleep on my back, quietly, still-ly. He says it’s a little weird.  I also haven’t figured out how to not wake up with strange marks on my face from the mask — clearly a vanity issue, but something I’m not enjoying. And lastly, I wonder what the kids are thinking. They get the concept, but how odd to come into your parents’ room and see your mom with a weird elephant-like tube snaking from her face. I’ve gotten very good at snatching it off the instant I hear our door open.

So there you are – I’ve become assimilated. I am now, at times, more machine than me.  But I’m pretty much ok with that. Unfortunately for my family and friends, I’m now telling everyone they need to “get the test” because it clearly cures everything just look at me… I’m sure that will wane as the novelty of feeling rested wears off and the assumption of feeling great takes over.  That’s kind of cool.

Asparagus Pee and Other Bathroom Musings

There is a fine line.
Wondering if I crossed it…
Or just nudged it some.

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Not sure why, and not sure I really want to delve into why, but every time lately when I enter a bathroom I begin studying what is happening rather intently. My own habits, the habits of others, where things are placed, how we behave towards each other while in there, etc. I have come to realize several rather startling things. So of course, I’m going to tell you about them now.

1. I wonder what cavemen thought when, after eating asparagus, their pee smelled funny.  Personally, I wondered once when it happened many years ago, Google’d it and learned all about it. Now when it happens I just nod in understanding. How odd to have it happen to you 20,000 years ago and not understand. “Ugh… ugh ugh… UGGGHHH!” I would love to see that cave drawing…

File:Asparagus image.jpg

image from Wikipedia

2. Do you ever want to apologize when you are at work and have to go #2 and it is the most appalling smell ever and someone comes in the bathroom? I have so been tempted to say something like “I’m sorry, something died in my colon… they aren’t sure what it is but they said it would eventually stop.” or the more fun version ” Boy, howdy! What in the good lord’s name did I eat? That’s the last time I have Skyline Chili with a White Castle chaser!” Like I said, very tempting…

3. Point 2 is made all the worse when there are only two stalls. At least when there are three stalls I feel a little better that the person can get away.

4.   But then when there are 3 stalls (and point 2 above is still in play), and I’m politely ensconced in the end stall… why in blazes does the newcomer take the middle stall? My god, can’t you smell that? Get away!!

5. Are you a stall skipper or fill-er-in-er? In point 4, and assuming a normal circumstance, would you leave a polite gap between you and the other person or sidle up nice and close? I’m a skipper.

6. Do you have a favorite stall?

7. I read an article once that the cleanest public toilet seat is the toilet closest to the door. No one wants to pick the first stall because they assume everyone picks it, but for just that reason, it IS the cleanest. Who does this testing? And what does that mean about the stall furthest from the door? Ewww.

8. Why haven’t those little garbage cans evolved even the slightest in the last 50 years?  I’ve seen the versions in other countries – they are cool. But we get these WWI leftovers for some reason.

9. Do you think urinal cakes, like their edible cousins, are now being replaced by urinal cupcakes?

10.  What is it about public toilet door construction that they can’t manufacture it with a smaller gap? While out today at an art fair, the gap was thicker than my palm.  I leaned to the side, somehow convincing myself that if I couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me. (Beevis & Butthead moment… art fair…. fart air…. heh heh, heh heh…)

11. No matter what, while walking past a bathroom at work at the exact moment someone opens the door to exit it, I have to look at them. What am I expecting to see?  I even do it when it is a men’s room. It is mortifying… almost a reflex. I really have to concentrate when it happens to not lift my gaze. Weird.

12. I brought in a can of air freshener for one of the bathrooms at work. And now I’m totally creeped out to pick it up. Do you wash your hands first and then spray it? Or try to quickly cover your tracks and wash second. And regardless of what you do, what did the person before you do? I’ve stopped using that particular bathroom now…

Not at all sure how to wrap this up. Crumple or fold…

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