Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Civics Quiz

"Miss? Excuse me, Miss?"

I thought he was going to ask me for the Sports section. I was balancing it precariously on my knees as I rode BART to the City.

I said, "Yes?'

"My wife is taking the citizenship test. Can you tell me who the current Supreme Court Chief Justice is? You know, after Rehnquist."

Uhhhhh. Uh.

"No," I'm sorry, smiling weakly. "It's a new guy, and I don't remember his name. I'm afraid most of us couldn't pass that citizenship test." They smiled indulgently and went on with their studies.

Damn! THIS kind of thing calls for something revolutionary! This is an outrage!

I know what you're thinking, that idiots like me should certainly be able to name the entire court. And other little bits of civic trivia. Heck, I'm glad he mentioned Rehnquist. I didn't remember his name either.

But, no, that's not where my mind was going.

There should be internet on BART! There should be internet all over the Bay Area! And then we could all look up the answer!

But she won't have access to any computer when she takes that test. I understand that.

But, hey, I'm kinda lazy. The last civics course I took was in high school. And, as an adult, I have the obligation to read newspapers and the internet, and keep up with this sort of thing.

Good idea. Hmmm. Yes. I'll get to that later.

John Roberts. How did they expect me to remember that? Such a difficult name...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

File This Under "O"

A marvelous thing happened to me this week: my house is becoming Organized.

With the help of many (Val for ordering shelves for me, Jamie for putting them up and bolting them to the wall), there are now mahogany shelves in the den -- and they're gorgeous!!!

It took James about five hours to put them up. That's including the lunch. Problem after problem occurred (including the charge going out of the very powerful portable drill), but he found a way around each one.

And then, at 8 pm tonight, I put my DVDs up on the shelves. Tomorrow, when I have time, I will put the books up. And then the fun begins when I can put up the collectibles!

I am fully aware that some collectibles will display easily while others may need containers of their own. I can't wait, however, to place my two Sideshow busts from Lord of the Rings on the top shelves!! Or, actually, the Ringwraith horse is a bust, but the Aragorn is a fully clothed figure.

This may encourage me to get more collectibles!....

Or not. I think having too many in the first place got me into this mess...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just Call Me Kitty

There's a big debate over what to name Aaron's new kitty. As if we actually had a voice. "We" in this case means all of his friends, drinking buddies, relatives, friends' relatives, distant cousins, etc. Aaron is waiting for Cheryl to get back so that THEY can name the new kitty. Da noiv.

So far, though, we have an interesting array of candidates for the name:

Lil Terror

Some of the spontaneous combustive names occur when The Kitty is keeping Aaron awake. The current routine is to play with him for a couple of hours right before midnight, when both fall asleep from exhaustion at 2 am. But kittens, it seems, recover quickly from exhaustion, at least a lot faster than men.

This kind of kitten is called a Bengal, and is rather rare. See photos at

The usual stripes along its side can be quite unusual. This kitten, however, is a reject: Its stripes blend in with a black background. There's no worth in the breeding market.

But there's plenty of worth in keeping the guy you imprinted upon awake at night. Go kitty!

I will post a photo when I can get one. So far, all I have is a vague amorphous shape on my cell phone.

*My personal favorite.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It Was Either Handcuffs or Flat Panel

Oooh! Oooh! I have a new T.V., a new sound system, and less furniture!

Yes, now that the heavy, heavy pieces of wood are gone, I can actually fit things in this den. My super duper 46" Samsung flat panel has been set up.

The installation guys didn't show up when they were supposed to, so when salesman James (on good follow-up) called me to see if it had been taken care of, the answer was "no." So he tracked them down, and they called me, and they finally showed up at 4 pm. It took them almost 2 hours to make it happen. I got constant reminders that they had never seen such a system before, so I think I'm watching cutting edge here.

The universal remote was programmed a week ago, prior to installation. Some of it doesn't work exactly right, so I'll go in next week to ask some questions. Actually, after talking to James about it (yes, he called again), I'm convinced that I have to do the programming for the favorite radio stations (duh, that makes sense), and that the other problems are really miniscule.

And I have to have some time to study the manual and put the CDs into the new Bose system. It will copy them and allow me to see the choices on the T.V. screen. THAT is going to be awesome!

When one of the installer guys came out of the bathroom, he said to me, "So you were in law enforcement?" and went on to tell me how he had tried to join Customs. And what a hassle it was. So he just gave up. He took it as a positive revelation that he needed to seek some other kind of work.

I must admit I'm happy that he made the choice he did.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"Could You Grab the Other End of That?"

I had seven pieces of furniture to get rid of. That action would clear the den for the new entertainment system plus a series of bookshelves that might solve my collectibles and book storage problems.

Two DVD cabinets, one wooden desk, one wooden table, a T.V. cabinet, and two wooden bookcases. Plus a large stereo system (tuner, cassette player, CD player).

I first offered them to one of the local synagogues for fund-raising. After the committee chair told me she wanted all of it, she sent an email to a woman who's having a garage sale to send kids on a trip, telling her their committee didn't have any use for it but maybe she did. After waiting three days, she finally came over and claimed the two bookcases, which fit neatly in her range rover. I helped her put them in. She said she might be interested in more, but I in truth I never thought I'd see her again.

In the meantime, though, I listed things separately on Craig's List, some for $5 and some for $1. I got three instant replies for the stereo system. The guy came over the next morning to pick that up. He was a very pleasant guy, determined to make his new stereo system fit into his itty-bitty San Francisco apartment. And immediately after that, a guy showed up from Richmond for the DVD cabinets. I helped him take them to his range rover, and found his wife sitting in it. "She thinks I talk too much," he said, grinning, as he went on and on about his condo complex. He does, I thought.

The next day, a friend came over for the red table. After trying to figure out the mathematics of the situation, we figured it would never go into her Saturn. So she gave up.

So, right after that, I took photos of the remaining pieces, and posted them on Craig's List again, this time with notice that "you need two people," and "this is very heavy," and "you need at least a van if not a truck."

I am rather fascinated, I must say, with my postings on Craig's List and the results I see. I have learned quickly that (1) people want it for less than you post, even if it's $1, and (2) they don't read. It's absolutely fascinating. I must admit, though, this time, only one person tried to bring the price down. And in one case, a woman offered to boost the price if I delivered. (I don't.)

A couple emailed me at 8 pm last night that they wanted to come over and pick up the T.V. cabinet. They said they lived very close. An hour and a half later they showed up.....with a smaller car than the aforementioned Saturn, a two-door Honda Civic. At least I didn't have to lift anything as they did everything themselves. As they're trying over and over to fit the thing inside the car, I find out from the woman that their baby was in the back seat! "She's asleep," she said, smiling, and I found out that it took them so long to get there because of babysitting problems. I listened to the husband give the wife, who was obviously the smarter of the two, instructions on what to do, and he kept changing those instructions every few seconds. I finally left, as it was getting chilly out there, and I didn't want to be stuck with a big piece of furniture if it didn't fit. I guess they managed, because the car drove away shortly after.

And this afternoon a guy showed up for the desk. At least he had a truck. But he came by himself. He said the desk will be for a new student from Chile (who, mysteriously, did not come along to help with the labor). He borrowed a screwdriver and took out the drawer and the sliding computer table -- at first I wondered why but picked them up later: they were very heavy. So the desk was, indeed, lighter without those two pieces. I was so desperate to get rid of this heavy, wooden desk, that I said "okay" when he asked me to grab the other end. It was hard to get a grip on this solid oak desk. It may have been the heaviest thing I have ever lifted in my lifetime -- well, at least this week. We probably scraped the top of it when my hands slipped and I dropped it near the pickup gate. He turned it end over end to get it into the pickup bed. He handed over the $1.

Right before he drove off, he said to me, "So, does it come with a chair?"