Sunday, December 23, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
The older we get, the harder it is for me to get Olof to medical appointments.
Olof maintains this is because at our age, there’s just no good news to be had. Do they ever say, “Wow, you look so much younger!” he queries? Or, “You really should be drinking more Scotch?” No, he says, they just take pains to remind you that you’re one day closer to decrepitude and death.
I’ve previously written about our primary care doctor, whom we affectionately refer to as Dr. No. As in no bread, no pasta, no rice, no potatoes, no fun. Dr. No has a personal vendetta against high-glycemic carbs. It’s the potatoes that are hardest for Olof who is a serious spud man.
Monday, November 26, 2012
This column was a collaborative effort between the Light’s Inga, and Laura Walcher, humor columnist at the Presidio Sentinel. It is running concurrently in both papers.
Laura: The thing we have in common, though, is that we never write fiction. Life provides. What worries me, though, is that, one of these days, she could have better material - I mean, just TAKE Olof, her husband; he’s such a source. (“Olof” - ? Hmm, to preserve the marriage, that name might be “fiction.”)
Inga: October 23 was the 2012 Press Club awards, and Laura was one of the first people I saw when I got there. I thought I had some strong contenders (the Humor category awards go to individual columns) but so did she. This year, I got first and she got second. I figured that if I couldn’t be a gracious loser, I could at least be a gracious winner. I gave her my heartiest (nyeh nyeh) congratulations.
Inga: As for the 2013 Press Club awards? Game on!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
It’s a good thing we adore our next door neighbor, Bert, because for all practical purposes, he and Olof and I live together.
Sixty-five years ago, an obviously inebriated architect chose to ignore the collective 19,000 square feet of our two lots and build two houses a mere ten feet from each other. Worse, the houses are oriented so that rather than being parallel, our houses face right into each other. I’m trying to even imagine how any of this worked before 1955 when a six foot fence and a Japanese privet hedge were installed that created at least the illusion of any privacy.
Fortunately for us, the neighbors who have inhabited this house, have, bar one, been wonderful – a PSA pilot and his white go-go-booted flight attendant wife, then for 25 years a lovely spinster school teacher who was either hard of hearing or driven to defensive deafness by the 150 decibel activities of our kids directly under her TV room window.
The next folks (see “bar one,” above) turned out to be drum-playing house flippers. (I keep thinking that if I just changed the first letters of that phrase I could make it sound really obscene). There was nothing they liked better than having the family over on a Sunday afternoon and playing drums for seven straight homicide-inducing hours. They might as well have been playing in our living room, as among the many stupid things they did in their brief (but still over-stayed) tenure was remove all the sound-blocking foliage between our two homes, and also put in master bedroom windows on the side of the house facing us.
There was a good reason no windows were put in on that side originally. Suddenly there was no conversation in that bedroom, never mind other activities, that we were not fully, completely, and occasionally vomitously privy to.
Turns out it was just Bert working out with a golf impact bag. More recently, we were eating dinner when we were seriously alarmed to hear Bert desperately gasping for air. We looked at each other.
Olof: New workout regimen?
Inga: Accidentally hung himself with the phone cord?
Fortunately, the answer was (a). No wonder Bert is so hunk-, er, fit!
When all of the power went out in Southern California last September, I chatted with Bert through the fence as he cooked on his grill (he prefers fish) and I sat out in the moonlight with my glass of wine.
Last fall, the 1955 hedge and fence between our houses precipitously died/fell down obliterating any privacy between our homes for a month. I sat at my desk in my nightgown answering email and watching Bert watch sports recaps in his living room until he went to bed at 11:05. A rebuilt fence restored some privacy to us both but until the new hedge grows up, I now stare into Bert’s shower from my kitchen window. Bert is 6’4” and hunky (sorry, I know I said that already) and my husband, Olof, accuses me of topping the new hedge every time it threatens to obliterate the view.
A base canard, of course. Bert recently told me through the fence that he had cut back the hedge because the new motion lights outside his window seemed to be going off and on all night. OK by me!
If you’re going to live in this kind of proximity to a neighbor, it helps that they’re the best neighbor in the world. When we were out of the country for two years on a work contract a few years ago, Bert saved our landscaping and aviary birds more times than we could count when the people who were supposed to do it didn’t. We’re destined to be friends forever if for no other reason than we have waaaaay too much on each other at this point.
The only thing that worries me is wondering what HIS version of this column would be. Name your price, Bert.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Before my engineer husband tries to explain anything technical to me, he says, “I think you might want to get the yellow pad.” He, of course, means an 8x11 lined legal pad which we buy by the kilo, since he also asserts that when I die he’s going to insert a multi-pack of them into my coffin for my use in the hereafter.
In his dream of the hereafter, somebody else is helping me with my technical problems besides him.
Fortunately, I’m trainable. But I need the yellow pad and laboriously detailed instructions. There are no givens in Inga Land. Olof, along with my long-suffering former co-worker, Dave, have tried to maintain that most techno gadgets are designed to be intuitive. You play with it, you figure it out, you don’t need a manual. Hah! Let me rephrase that. HAH! For some of us, there IS no intuitive.
As for my computer, Olof insists I can’t break it. Maybe not, but I can get it to the point where I can’t get it to work again either. In my world, that’s called “broken.” You’re typing along, minding your own business, and suddenly everything on the screen looks different. Sweat breaks out on my forehead.
Olof would also insist that computers are made up of ones and zeros and operate by logical rules, but I know differently. Technical gadgets sense fear and take advantage of it. Sometimes you just have to get the upper hand by threatening the machine into submission. Windows Live Mail only shaped up when it knew I was going to replace it with Outlook.
Turn on power strip on top of desk.
Turn on power button* on computer. The computer is the black box with the white top on the floor to the left of my desk chair and says “Dell” on it. [No snickers please. We also have another box that is called a “firewall” that is NOT the computer, or at least the one that will make my monitor come to life.]
No sound on speakers? Make sure the little green light on the speakers is on and that the Iomega thing isn’t plugged into the power strip instead. Still no sound? The kids may have turned off the volume using the speaker icon-y thing at the very bottom right of my screen . Click on it and slide it back up to the middle of the scale. [Make note to tell kids: don’t ever ever do that to me again! I had no speakers for a week while Olof was out of town! ]
How to open the disk drive: Could they have hidden it any better???? Right below the little slot thingeys (WHAT ARE THEY?) is the disk drive. On its right side, totally un-obviously, is a thing that you push and out pops the disk drive. Would a label have killed them? Unmarked panels that open secret compartments should be left to Nancy Drew books!
I can only hope the hereafter is more user-friendly. Or that they sell yellow legal pads.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Halloween is approaching again – one of my most and least favorite holidays. But before we go further, let me make one thing clear: no matter what your teenager says he or she did on Halloween, they’re lying.
Sometimes I would see a parent of one of these kids in the next few days and say, “So what did Joey do for Halloween?” And Dad would say, “Oh, he just went over to a friend’s house and they watched TV.” Of course, that was back in the days when you could actually call over to someone’s house and check on them. Not that anyone ever did, of course, because as Dad quickly added, he trusted the kid implicitly.
Trust your kid implicitly the other 364 days a year. Sometimes I’d mention that actually, the police had rounded up Joey and a bunch of other kids for vandalizing my neighborhood. Invariably – and we really are talking 100% of the time – I’d get a call back in a day or two that Dad had talked to Joey and Joey admitted that yes, he was there but he “wasn’t doing anything, just watching.” And Dad wanted to assure me that he trusts Joey’s version of this implicitly.
No point in telling Dad that Joey, the lying little weasel, was actually one of the ringleaders of this operation. (As you can tell, I get testy when people vandalize my property.) But more to the point, it always stunned me that (a) I heard this excuse so often and (b) that parents would actually accept it.
I made so many mistakes with my children that they keep lists both alphabetically and chronologically. But the felony murder rule always applied: you were there, you were guilty. I would have laughed in their little faces if they’d ever tried to pull that excuse on me.
So folks, it’s Halloween time again. I hope your teen has fun. But whatever he or she says she did, don’t believe a word of it.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Now that coach travel on airlines has deteriorated into abject misery, everyone is looking for a way to raise themselves above the fray, however briefly. The airlines, recognizing that we all want to feel special (and since they have absolutely no intention of making us feel special once we’re in the air) are throwing us crumbs in the form of opportunities to go through the First Class security line, or to get priority boarding. An aisle seat has become a coveted prize, and boarding early is not only a status symbol but a way to up the chances one’s bag will fly free in an overhead space and better, arrive at your destination when you do.
When all those folks were safely seated, they called for people who bought early boarding rights by virtue of purchasing the airline’s pricey credit card, then summoned the people who had responded to their announcement of a pre-board if they allowed their roller bag to be gate checked. Somewhere in there, Star Alliance members also made the cut, followed by military members in uniform, and then members of a special club that one could join if one lived in the airline’s ancestral state (some kind of quaint local pride thing, I think). Then – finally! - the folks in rows 20-35! Actual civilians! The crowd had really thinned out by then and we, in row 15, were poised to step forward when they announced that anyone left who did not intend to use the overhead bin space was now free to board.
OK, so those might not have been her exact words. Two hundred passengers, 191 pre-boards and us. And thus we began our walk of shame, the last dregs of humanity to be allowed aboard this aircraft, the ones who had insufficient miles, no affiliations, the wrong credit cards, and certainly no class. We were the chaff separated from the wheat, the adult versions of the kids picked last for the dodge ball team in elementary school, the new caste of airline Untouchables. “I’m not feeling loved,” I whispered to Olof as we slunk aboard with our reviled roller bags that we’d been too cheap to check.
I guess you can’t give people a feeling of superiority without giving them someone to feel superior to. And this time we were the inferiors. Or maybe that should be posteriors. It’s a lousy job, but someone’s got to do it. But having done it, I think we might just stick with United who loves us.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Laugh if you will, but I have a friend who didn’t take a shower for seven years after seeing “Psycho,” and I know at least a dozen “Jaws” viewers who never swam in the ocean again. As for the Twilight Saga trilogy, I can’t imagine this is doing anything for Washington state tourism, except for teenage girls hoping to run into Robert Pattinson at the Forks Mini-Mart.
My husband, meanwhile, maintains that he loves the stillness, the lack of so much as a cricket chirping, the trees whispering in the breeze. He doesn’t know they always get the unsuspecting ones first.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
The next morning I am on the phone at 7 a.m. and get Jason, an alleged supervisor. Jason promises me that a technician will be out between 5-7 that day to restore the TV service. The new installation will have to wait until Sunday. I ask why no one called us when they weren’t going to come. He says their records show that the scheduled technician (hereafter known as “The Lying Bag of Sheep Dung”) cryptically noted that he was “unable to access area under house” and hence cancelled the call without ever coming here.
At 6:55 p.m., just as we are about to give up, a TW Cable guy named Avery shows up. He agrees our TV cable service is out but is puzzled as to how that could be since the first guy never went under the house. We are sure he is going to shrug his shoulders – it is, after all, Friday night - and leave in TW’s inimitable way but he is determined to fix this for us. We are so dazzled we are speechless. Is this really a TW Cable guy? He finally dons his hazmat suit and crawls under the house in the now-pitch blackness and discovers that when the first guy had been tugging on the cable from the outside of the house, he had pulled it out from the splitter underneath the house. Avery fixes this and voila.
Avery fesses up, however, to tripping over one of our above-ground sprinkler heads in the dark thus disabling our sprinkler system. He offers to pay for it. We decline. He’s honest to boot! If only we could just get Avery on retainer.
Meanwhile, Olof decides against the new installation. He is no longer a virgin. In fact, he’s feeling like he’s been violated by a horde of surly ninjas. Even though we’ve kept TW Cable because they’re the evil that we know, we conclude it’s time for the evil that we don’t know.
Neither of us feels inclined to spend yet more time on hold with TW Cable to cancel the new installation call that was rescheduled for Sunday. When they come, we’ll tell them we’ve changed our minds. Take THAT, Time Warner Cable!
They never show up.
Monday, August 20, 2012
The misinformation superhighway seems to be traveling at warp speed this year. Several months ago I wrote a column called “Please don’t send anything to everyone you know” about the internet screeds that the wingnuts of the world forward to everyone in their address book without passing them through even the most rudimentary filter of credibility.
(1) C’mon, really?