Monday, August 20, 2007

A shortage

As we'll be moving (again) in less than two weeks, we're trying not to purchase more stuff, particularly things we'll have to pack. Like food, and other things from the grocery store. One less thing we have to put in a box over the next ten--sorry, nine--days is a small victory. So we've been nursing our dish detergent, in the hopes that we'll run out on the morning of the move. IT didn't work; we ran out yesterday. As I washed the dishes with bar soap, I had the image in my head of Ralphie, in his peacoat and dark glasses, with his white cane, breaking the news to his distraught parents:
"It 'twas . . . soap poisoning!"
I rinsed thoroughly.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Idiosyncratic pronunciations

Everyone's entitled to a few: I pronounce Norbert Elias's last name the same as Patrik Elias's. Then there's that bicycle part which is acceptably called in English a "derailer" or by its French name "derailleur" (pron. de-rie-ehrr). And I continue to call by the bastardized pronunciation of "dee-ra-lure."

And the sandal companies: Chaco and Teva. They want to rhyme with "taco" and "B-F-4eva" but for god's sakes, they're freaking sandals. Chaco rhymes with Waco, Teva with beaver (show your New Jersey roots!).

I used to think that bedraggled was the condition one was in when one arose from bed, hence "bed-raggled" (a pronunciation I still occasionally use, particularly when I can use that word to describe myself). A case of a false etymology leading to a wrong pronunciation.

Pony up with yours in the comments.

An odd thing explained

Traveling to New York is like going to another country; things are just a little bit different. One thing that struck me on my trip last week was the startling number of pay phones. And behold, here's the explanation: advertising. The ad space on the side of the phone booths provides way more revenue than the calls.

Incidentally, this reminds me of a story from the NYT a few years ago, about a pay-phone buff, the sort of a guy who always answers a ringing pay phone (back when they would take incoming calls, at least). His oddest exchange:

"Hello, is Louise there?"
"No, this is a pay phone"
"I know. Look, when she walks by, could you tell her that Julio called and I'm going to be at Rikers longer than I thought."

Premature Epistolation

n. phrase. The act of inadvertently sending an email while not yet completed or attachments not yet attached. May cause feelings of embarrassment, shame, etc.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

...and overheard.

After I heard someone tell the same story to three or four different lucky recipients of phone calls, the person on the other end of the conversation must have squeezed in a word, knowing that the only way to get a response was to ask about our protagonist. The response:"Oh my god, we talked all weekend long...."

Yeah, I thought to myself, I bet you did.

Seen in Newark Airport

White sneakers, white socks wrapped around old-man-skinny ankles, tan pants, white belt, beige shirt covering a bit of a belly, sand-colored bucket hat over a sunburned and wrinkled face. Plastic framed glasses sat on a nose with a couple of funny kinks to it. He was talking into his cell phone, placing his bets for the afternoon's horse racing "Spanish... in the fourth ... that's right ... to win...."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Small adventures

Saturday Dr. Fledermaus and I took Bat Jr. to her first baseball game; she had a blast (Dingbat was disappointed in John Maine's third-inning performance, but that didn't dampen Jr.'s pleasure at the crowd, the pretzels (or shoul I say, the mustard; Jr.'s focus is the condiments at just about any meals).

But as with so much else (at least when Dr. F and I are involved), the adventure is in the journey. After the game, we strolled down Clark, Wells, and State streets from Wrigley to Quartino for dinner. Which was delightful--Bat Jr. got a mini-nap in, we got to window-shop with absolutely no danger of entering and purchasing--until... Rain. The rain made everything, well, wet. So I suppose that I'd have to say it was wet and delightful.

The reason we open ourselves up to these (mis)aventures is the payoffs--not just the goofy stories, but also things like meeting Griffin, the bassett hound, and his owners, who took shelter under the same awning we did during a moment of fairly intense rain. One of Griffin's owners, it turns out, works (once a week) around the block from where we're living now. This is one of the mild surprises of living in the city, especially one like Chicago where the neighborhoods are so strong, and you might see your neighbors (we did see one of them on the north side, too). We expect that our niehgbors go out, but it's a pleasant surprise that others come into our community, too!

The weekend wouldn't be complete without a bike ride: this morning I biked up to Montrose through the rain: a steady, medium-intensity rain punctuated by bouts of thunderstorm-like intensity (during the actual thunder, I was in a tunnel under Lake Shore Drivee adjusting my cleats).

I relived my running days as a "mudder" for a while. Every time a storm cell passed overhead, the (tail)wind strengthened, so along with the rain came a boost in my speed, tearing through the puddles with the rain dripping off my helmet.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Found Poetry

"As the South Campus engineers were trying to clear a kitchen sink on the 4th floor today, they found plastic utensils as well as coffee grounds in the sink drain.

"Please do not put plastic eating utensils in sink as well as coffee grounds.

"Please watch what we put into the sinks.

"This just makes common sense."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wisdom from Dr. Fledermaus: Drip Dry

I'm a fan of--or should I say, "easily captivated by"--the Big Plan. My current Big Plan is to go carless over the next five years or so. We're making fine progress toward that goal, driving rarely enough that the car has started to pick up spider webs from disuse. But this post is about rather a simple, small way to consume less resources.

Drip dry your hands. Dr. F started boycotting hand dryers (the hot-air kind) a long time ago, due to the beastly temperature they create in a bathroom, especially one already packed with people--one shouldn't come away from washing one's hands feeling sweaty everywhere else.

Once you get used to drip-drying instead of hot air, it's a simple matter to drip dry instead of using up paper towels. Bang--if you're washing your hands as often as your mother would like, a half-pound of paper out of the waste stream.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


We're looking for a a trike for Bat Junior. She's 17 1/2 months old, and already so jazzed about biking that she, well, bikejacks any of the older kids who have a two- or three-wheeler. That is, she elbows them off their ride and climbs aboard. She doesn't yet attempt this with adults, but if you leave a bike around, she'll try to climb on, with varyingly humorous or calamitous outcomes.

What's needed is clearly a conveyance of her own. We've now been two four different stores looking for a well-built (mostly steel, definitely not CPS, solid or inflatable rubber tires [not plastic wheels]) trike: 10" wheels and a bent-down main tube so she can reach the pedals. Three big-box stores and one specialty bike store, and no luck yet. We know the thing exists; you can buy it on Amazon, and that may well be what we wind up doing. Or we'll have our LBS order it.