Friday, June 29, 2007

The Lame Defacer

Someone went to a lot of trouble to deface a CityLink bus shelter near my house. The CityLink slogan is "Your ride is here!"

The Defacer, who is either really stupid or really existential, painstakingly scratched off the "h", so that it now reads, "Your ride is ere!"

Even I could immediately see that a far better defacing would have been to remove the terminal "e" so that it said, "Your ride is her!"

(And if "Your ride is her!" starts popping up all over Peoria bus shelters in the next week, well, at least we know juvenile delinquents read my blog.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I Need a Framer

Hey Peoria, I'm looking for a framer with expertise in handling fine embroidery. Not just a standard cross-stitch, but antique and heirloom embroidery as well. It's a very different sort of framing than framing pictures, and after putting 300 hours into something, you don't want to see it framed wrong!

Does anybody know a local framer who can handle my embroidery? For a really skilled embroidery framer, I'm willing to go as far as Chambana (or Bloomington-Normal or Galesburg). Maybe even the Quad Cities. So "local" is a pretty broad term here!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Weddings Rock

This past weekend we were in Chicago for the wedding of my best friend (since high school) to her Norwegian fiance, which was super-awesome. Twenty-five Norwegians flew in to attend, which I think is a great compliment to her new husband. They had the rehearsal dinner in the Sears Tower (Metropolitan Club, 66th floor) because it's a Chicago landmark and because the tallest building in Norway, the Norwegians told me, is only about 30 stories, so they'd never been up that high before. (Well, except when flying over the Atlantic, one assumes.) I also learned there are 4.5 million people in the entire country of Norway. There are 12 million in Illinois, about half of whom live in and around Chicago, so that must have been something of a shock to the system as well!

The Norwegian visitors were all quite taken with Chicago, which delights me, because I am always telling my European friends to visit Chicago when they come to the U.S., because I think it's the most American of U.S. cities and has such great architecture and so much to see and do. (Also it is full of midwesterners and so very friendly and helpful.) But no, they're all about New York and Orlando. Boring!

We did spend a great deal of the weekend playing the "where exactly is this Peoria you speak of?" game. Most of the other young Americans still live in big cities like DC and NYC and San Fran, places people have heard of. Then I would be a little stumped trying to explain what Peoria was like as a "small" city of 115,000ish in the middle of cornfields, but not a farm town, and "big" by Norwegian standards -- 115,000 would make it the 5th-largest city in Norway. ("You know the big yellow earthmoving equiptment that says CAT? I live where they come from. Also corn. I live where corn comes from.") We also enjoyed the "Guess What Real Estate Costs In Peoria" game with both American and Norwegian 20-somethings living in expensive big cities.

So we were one of those weddings taking pictures out on Michigan Avenue (to the delight of a contingent of Japanese tourists and many small children). I've always been hesitant to honk because I didn't want to be rude, but from now on I vow to always honk and holler at brides because one of the best parts of the weekend was all these random strangers driving by on Michigan Avenue honking and shouting "Good luck!" to the bride and groom as they went by. It was so awesome that all these people wanted to share their joy just because they were happy and it added to the generalized joy of the occasion.

The wedding itself was very interesting. It was a Jewish ceremony (I got to stand under a chuppah!), but in three languages so everyone could understand -- Hebrew, English, and Norwegian. I was standing next to the bride looking at her in profile, and that was sort-of weird for me, because it kept reminding me of all the times in high school I glanced over at her and saw her in profile but she was, like, 14 and now we're all growed up and married and she's all glowing with happiness and I'm all trying not to cry. WHICH I WAS REMARKABLY SUCCESSFUL AT, given how easily and often I cry as a general rule.

As matron of honor (heh heh -- I'm a matron) I gave a toast at the reception and I didn't know this, but it turns out that if you only cry a little bit it's touching rather than awkward. I didn't know because I've never stopped at touching before; rather I go right past touching, blow through awkward, and arrive sobbing at "Does this woman need sedation?" (True story: At my own wedding, I cried so hard coming down the aisle that when I got to the altar, the priest asked, "Do we need to stop the wedding?")

And yes, we danced the hora, which I haven't really had opportunity to do in years and it turns out the mother of the bride dances a fierce hora. It was Mr. McGee's first hora and he acquitted himself admirably. (Which is why the hora is such a great folk dance -- anyone can join in after watching for 30 seconds.)

It was a remarkably sociable wedding, I think partly because everyone was going out of their way to make sure the Norwegian contingent, who had come so far, was included and having fun, but mostly because the bride and groom are both such kind, good-humored, openhearted, NICE people that they draw other wonderful people around them.

The whole thing has just put me in a lovely mood.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Today's Important Life Lesson: Life Is Not Like the Movies

So I managed to lock myself out of my car today, which is one of the things I worry about most (God knows why; it'd take 20 minutes for my husband to come rescue me anywhere in Peoria) so I'm very anal-retentive about my keys and will check my purse for them an OCD number of times before getting out of the car. But today I was distracted (it's been a heckuva day all through) and got out of the car at the dry cleaner leaving my keys on the passenger seat, which I didn't notice until I came back out of the dry cleaner and I was standing by the car door looking for my keys in my purse.

Oh. Crap.

I call Mr. McGee, who does not pick up, but then I remember that my "trunk not fully closed" light had been on, because he never slams it hard enough (it's picky about latching), but I had ALSO forgotten to do that. So I manage to pop up my trunk from the outside, lay down the seats, konk my noggin a good one, and shimmy and crawl my way through the trunk, over the back seats, to just - barely - reach my keys in the front seat, whereupon I promptly caught their "leash" on the gearshift, so I had to get all the way in the car, using yoga-like contortions, to be able to free them.

So today's lesson is ENTERING A CAR FROM THE TRUNK IS NOT AS EASY AS THE MOVIES MAKE IT LOOK!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Best! Vet Day! Ever!

Vet Day was actually last week when I was busy being very stuffy-headed and non-bloggy, but it went SO WELL that it deserves commemoration on the blog.

First, Orange Cat can only travel in the hard-sided carrier. If we put him in the soft-sided one, he panics and pees like crazy. Don't know why. As a general rule, Grey Cat prefers the soft-sided carrier (which we got because you can carry cats on planes that way -- Grey Cat LOVED the airplane), but last Tuesday, which was Vet Day, he crawled into the hard-sided carrier and refused to come out, making like he was going to bite me when I attempted it. Finally I gave in, put Orange Cat in there WITH HIM, and lugged all 40 lbs. of cat out to the car. (Which, incidentally, is much heavier when they're both in one carrier instead of 20 lbs. on each side!)

Wait, wait -- why was Eyebrows lugging cats to the vet when after last year's complete fiasco, Mr. McGee had promised to do so? Some judge wanted him to be in court or something, as if that's more important than taking cats to vets. I mean, seriously, people. </sarcasm> So I got stuck with them again.

It turns out that if Orange Cat is in the same carrier as Grey Cat, instead of yowling piteously the entire car ride (which he did for twelve hours per day on two consecutive days of driving when we moved from North Carolina to Illinois, the only relief coming when he actually lost his voice somewhere on the Indiana Toll Road; I almost went mad), he curls up against Grey Cat and trembles and looks unhappy, but doesn't yowl. Grey Cat wasn't quite sure what to think about Orange Cat mashing up against him as hard as possible, but he didn't complain either. This was such a delightful discovery that if we ever have to drive cats further than the vet again, I am buying a puppy crate big enough for two cats!

Orange Cat is an angel at the vet. Orange Cat is the only reason vets let us come back. He gets weighed, gets examined, gets his shots without even flinching (he does have practice getting shots, after all). Orange Cat's glucose levels are perfect. Orange Cat is the perfect specimen of cathood in all possible ways. (Well, the perfect specimen of one-eyed diabetic tail-free tooth-missing cathood, anyway.)

Then we get to Grey Cat, the demon spawn who got us banned from our last vet by using the vet tech's head as a launch pad to the ceiling with all claws engaged. Grey Cat cannot be removed from the carrier. At. All. They finally have to take him and give him kitty laughing gas. He poops on the vet tech for spite -- but even this is awesome because they needed a stool sample! With him a little loopy from kitty laughing gas, he gets his first actual full examination in three entire years and because of that he's able to get the three-year rabies vax instead of the one year. The vet and I agree he doesn't really need to see Grey Cat on a yearly basis, so I don't have to take Grey Cat back until 2010! THIS IS CHAMPAGNE-WORTHY.

Grey Cat does earn a bright red sticker on the front of his medical record, though, that says "BITER." (I guess they do not have a sticker that says "POOPS FOR SPITE" or he would have two stickers.) "See that, Grey Cat?" I asked him. "That's your own personal Scarlet Letter because you are the worst-behaved cat EVER. Feel ashamed, you bad beast." (He didn't.)

I actually remember a check to pay for the rabies tags for the first time ever and I don't have to make a second trip later to pay for the tags. (You can pet the vet by credit card but the rabies tags come from PAWS and have to be paid by check even when you pay at the vet.) We go home. The vet tech even carries the 40 lbs. of cat in single carrier to the car for me.

So to recap the best vet visit ever: Orange Cat is healthy, I did not have to apologize to the vet a single time for my cats' behavior, neither I nor any vet employees ended up bleeding, nobody had to go to the ER, I remembered a check, Grey Cat does not have to go back until 2010, and NOBODY PEED ON ANYTHING.

I feel like having a party!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Hidden Joys of Gardening

Today I got to call my husband and announce, "I bought you a sack of shit, dear."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. A sack of shit goes for a buck ninety-three these days."

"Good to know."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lungs? Are You There?

I haven't been blogging because now is the season of my allergic discontent, so I've had a non-stop headache for more than a week. (I'm spectacular to live with when I have a non-stop headache for more than a week! Ask Mr. McGee!) As far as I can tell, my airways have moved out and gotten an apartment somewhere across town where they don't have to do anything but call home once a week and ask for money like some whiney teenager who's pissed off about having to do minor household chores like, oh, I don't know, FACILITATING THE EXCHANGE OF AIR INTO MY OXYGEN-HUNGRY BLOOD.

As a result, I've curtailed activities that require me to look at or concentrate on anything, such as blogging, reading, or watching TV, and have refocused my energy on picking fights with my husband on the theory that CLEARLY he is responsible for all the pollen in the entire universe moving into my personal backyard.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I Am the Man Spatula, and the Chicago Tribune Has Traumatized Me

My first year of college, a guy I briefly dated in high school came out of the closet. This was a moderate blow to my ego and massive teasing fodder for all my friends, who promptly dubbed me the Man Spatula (because I flip men). It was a little bit weird, especially when I met his boyfriend, but we're still pretty good friends.

So this morning I'm flipping through my Chicago Tribune enjoying my Sunday two-newspaper readathon, and I come across a story about Chicago-area gay and lesbian students who've received scholarships from a GLBT organization for college or grad school.

ANOTHER ONE OF MY HIGH SCHOOL BOYFRIENDS IS THERE.

This means that 100% of boys I went to high school dances with are gay. And that I had to find that out from the Chicago Tribune.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Even My Nightmares Are Nerdy

Yesterday, I taught Thomas Hobbes and Social Contract to my ethics class.

Last night, I had nightmares about the State of Nature.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cancer Bad. Walking Good.

So help Jen Christensen and WHOI raise $1000 for the American Cancer Society at the annual "Relay for Life" event on June 22, 2007 at the Peoria Stadium. Apparently there is going to be midnight karaoke. That alone makes me want to go.

Anyhoo, you can donate here, and follow the links on the page to read more about the event:

http://www.acsevents.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=191263&supId=177646596

Monday, June 04, 2007

Summer Session Begins

I started teaching my new class tonight.

It turns out that I can, in fact, talk for three uninterrupted hours.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Horror! The Pain!

The total lack of internet for hours upon hours upon hours!

I missed Peoria Illinoisian totally cracking me up here and here (mom, you'll like that second one), Jonathan Ahl's big exciting news, and assorted other blogospheric excitement. Plus I was cut off from my umbilical cord of e-mail for hours. HOURS!

After doing all my home diagnostics and repair attempts, I called AT&T, and went through their entire spiel with the voice that wants me to answer and apparently thinks I have a speech impediment: "I'm sorry, I didn't quite get that. Please tell me your 10-digit telephone number now." "I'm sorry, I didn't quite get that." (You are not sorry, you're a MACHINE! You do not feel sorrow! Even Data didn't get his emotion chip until 2371. I watch TV! I know how robots work!)

Finally I got to a real person, who ran me through their diagnostic rigamarole (but, thank goodness, did not make me reboot my computer over and over; he took me at my word that I'd already done that part). After a good 15 minutes on the line with the real person (who took about 10 minutes to get to), he asks, "What state are you in?"

"Illinois."

"What city?"

"Peoria."

"Oh. There's a regional outage there. You won't have internet until 1:30 this afternoon." (Lies. It didn't come back on until 2:15.) "You had a big storm there and apparently it did something to the lines." (That's just weird; I don't recall a major storm between 10 p.m. yesterday and 7 a.m. today, which is the time period during which the DSL failed, but whatever. Perhaps I was briefly in an alternate universe.)

But here's my question: I wasted nearly half an hour of my time on the phone to tech support. AT&T wasted 15 minutes of paid phone-answering-guy time talking to me. Almost the very first thing the automated system asks you is your phone number. THE very first thing the live dude asks you is your phone number.

So when my area code came up as 309, wouldn't it have made sense for either the automated voice or the dude's computer to tell us, "There are widespread outages in area code 309" to follow up that possibility first? Given that no other diagnostics or tech support would work if I was in the outage area?