T'is the season . . . again
And again, this year the Fates of Weird made their annual stop-over at the Nill/Apple homestead. Last year’s visitation was a Zeus zap of lightening. This year’s visit was more subtle yet had the potential of causing catastrophic consequences. When we got home after running errands for a couple of hours one extremely hot July afternoon, in need of a soothing, cold glass of water, Chuck went to get some ice from the fridge’s dispenser. Nothing happened. That is, no ice came out of the dispenser. So, he opened the freezer door to see if there was a cube stuck in the dispenser preventing the ice from coming out. When he opened the freezer door the whole front of the ice dispenser fell out and the odor of burnt refrigerator innards wafted out along with it. The dispenser mechanism and the whole ice bin around it was charred. Weirdly, the ice in the dispenser was still in ice form and not melted water. However, it was completely covered by a layer of black, toxic-looking, oily goo.
After a few seconds of stunned incredulity, the reset button to our brain’s cognitive functions kicked in and we sprang into action. We emptied, as fast as we could, the whole of the freezer and refrigerator’s ruined contents into garbage bags to get them out of the house and also to reduce the appliance’s weight so we could force it out of its tight-fitting home between the kitchen cabinet and the wall to yank the plug before some other part of the possessed thing decided to spontaneously burst in flames. All of this, while inhaling the malodorous and certainly toxic fumes from the burnt plastic, or fiberglass, or whatever in hades the thing was made of. I’m sure we probably reduced our life expectancy by a decade because of all the poisonous crap that we inhaled during this maneuver. On the bright side, the thing that saved the fire from spreading was that the burning ice-maker motor ran out of oxygen in the air-tight refrigerator interior and extinguished itself. Otherwise, I’m sure we would have come home to, well, maybe no home.
Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.
~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971
Like I’m sure so many of us do, I have a love/hate relationship with technology. Among the many modern technological doohickeys and amenities I love, the list would have to include the availability of information on the internet, the convenience of on-line shopping, the versatility of word processing, e-mail, instant messaging, hands-free calling from my car and my GPS path finder... well, then again, let me rephrase that because my GPS doesn’t really like paths, but I do. It eternally wants to get me to my destination via expressway even when the more scenic and direct route might be a back road or two-lane highway.
I only turn the thing on when I don’t know where my final destination is, which usually only involves the last couple of miles of the journey. For example, to find a specific place in East Lansing, which is a favorite destination of ours. We like going there to enjoy an outing at Eastwood Mall for a must stop at the Schuler’s Book Store or to dine at a couple of our favorite restaurants. East Lansing, for those of you who are not from Michigan, is about an hour drive from my house. All things being equal, I prefer to take Old Lansing Road, a scenic two-lane country road, which was there long before the expressway was ever built, and which runs parallel to the freeway a few miles to the south of it. Coming home, usually after dark, the expressway is safer than maneuvering the curvy, pitch black, country, deer infested road. But in daylight it is a lovely and relaxing drive through farms and tree-lined foresty areas. The thing is, that like I mentioned before, if our final destination is somewhere we are unfamiliar with, I punch in the address of where we are going into the GPS. The result of this is that, Geepers (my nickname for the GPS) goes berserk the whole way there. At every major intersection along the way, in her stubborn mission to guide me to the freeway, Geepers warns me to turn right. It’s now become a game that we have timed to the millisecond to say in unison with the computerized female voice “recalculating” as we continue straight on our scenic road ignoring the advice from the nagging mechanical device.
I almost feel guilty and it’s often crossed my mind that I hope she never does a “Hal” on me (for those of you too young to know what I’m talking about, Hal is the computer that goes insane in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”). I imagine her voice getting more and more agitated and annoyed with every “recalculating,” until eventually she starts to scream “RECALCULATING! WHAT PART OF TURN RIGHT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND! ARE YOU RETARDED? WHEN I SAY TURN RIGHT, TURN RIGHT, DAMN IT! . . .” or words to that effect. Hmmmmm, if it ever does do that I’m throwing Geepers out the car window. Just saying.
Technology to the Rescue
In one of her comedy routines Rita Rudner comments that you know you’re in love when you meet that “certain someone you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” She isn’t wrong. In every relationship there are things that annoys, frustrates, infuriates or just irritates the other person. I don’t care how much you may love and cherish your partner. It is a given. Nothing wrong with it, it’s just the way things are. The trick of it is to embrace it and poke fun at it when you can and just enjoy and accept your differences. One of the things that I do that makes Chuck crazy is the catastrophically messy condition a previously pristine newspaper is left in after I have had my way with it. I don’t see what the problem is. Yes, it is left with folds in odd places, some parts are upside down, others are inside out, but it is basically still intact, if you define intact as being all there . . . somewhere?
Before we got our Nooks last year we used to get the paper version of the Sunday, New York Times. I usually got hold of it first and my sweetie would go apoplectic at the sight of the paper’s painfully distressed state when it was his turn to read it. Patiently, he would pick up the confussed mess of newsprint and proceed to organize it and refold it to it’s original condition before trying to read it. When he had finished reading it the paper always looked as pristine as if it had just come out of the newstand. It is a mystery to me how he does it, or for that matter, why he does it. I find the page size of American newspapers awkward. It is too big to read without folding it, difficult to turn the pages, impossible to fold them in any cohesive manner or to manage it in any user-friendly way. In short, it is a sort of news warfare that I engage in whenever I read the thing. Technology, however, has come to my rescue. I now subscribe to the electronic version of the NY Times. For the price of only the printed Sunday version, we now have it daily, and guess what? I get to read it wherever I am and there are no remains at the end of the day. I’ll have to ask Chuck if he misses the Sunday paper restoration ritual. Who knows, maybe he does.
Cart . . . astrophy
Another idiocyncracy that makes my sweetie scratch his head also involves a mess. It is interesting when you think about it. I am fastidiously neat when it comes to most everything, hosekeeping, bookeeping, and having a place for everything and everything in its place. But the chink in my armour, so to speak, are three things: the first I’ve just covered, newspapers; the second, is the tupperware cupboard – I’m not allowed to go there because I just shove with disastrous results; and the third is, according to Chuck, the way I “throw” (his words, not mine) things into a grocery cart. On the occassions when we are together at a grocery store he rearranges the cart every time I stop to put another item into the thing. Funny that three of the things that make him nuts have to do with messiness. But the chaos that is his desk and workspace are perfectly normal and acceptable to him. Just goes to show you, we all have our quirks. It’s what makes us who we are, and that’s alright.
2012 – The End is Nigh?
According to the Maya Calendar the world is supposed to end on December 21, 2012. Can’t remember if that is supposed to be Eastern Standard Time or Greenwich Mean Time. Either way. The theory is that there is supposed to be some sort of stellar alignment that will make the earth’s axis tilt and there goes baby, cradle and all. My theory is a little different. I think it is linked to the whole incandescent light bulb phase-out and the horrid mercury-laden fluorescent replacement ones that are supposed to be gradually phased-in starting next year. One of two things related to this event will bring about the annihilation of the human race: we will either all die of mercury poisoning from the damned things, or we will all gradually break our necks because the ghastly new light bulbs take half an hour to actually light up. It’s only a theory, but I think I’m on to something here. You decide.