Monday, April 29, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 864: Nothing, officer, why do you ask?

SH: I need to go to Target. [They have those little seedless clementines on sale and he has a coupon. SH loves his coupons. That's why we have a four-year supply of toothpaste in our house. Because he had a coupon.]

Me: Would you get me some underwear?

SH: I don't know what kind to get you.

Me: Let me see that ad. Nope, they don't have the kind I want. But would you look anyhow?

SH: Tell me what you want.

Me: I can give you a pair to take with you.

SH: That will work.

Me: Wait. That might look kind of weird, for you to be carrying around a pair of women's underwear.

SH: I can keep them in my pocket.

Me: Yeah, that will make it look better.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 786: Let them eat cake

SH: You're a cake for breakfast eater.

Me: So?

SH: You're not supposed to have cake for breakfast!

Me: Why not?

SH: It's supposed to be a dessert!

Me: Says the guy who ate so much cake yesterday that he complained of feeling bloated not once, but twice.

SH: But I don't eat cake for breakfast. Because I'm disciplined.

Me: The bloating.

SH: It's OK to pig out on cake after your meal!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 657: Did someone say, "Deal?"

SH: Look what I got at World Market! Potato chips!

Me: Oh good. Just what we need.

SH: They're wasabi!

Me: Yay.

SH: I got two bags.

Me: Why?

SH: Because you have to get two to get the discount!

Me: How much of a discount?

SH: They're only three dollars a bag!

Me: That is not cheap.

SH: Yes it is.

Me: You can get an five pounds of potatoes for three dollars.

SH: But they're wasabi!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Working Life: We walk among you

Me: Hello. This is Class Factotum. May I speak to Jane Doe?

Receptionist (live person! answering phone!) at vendor site: She's not in today.

Me: Oh. We were supposed to have a call at 2:00. I've emailed her, but haven't heard back from her. She was supposed to call me.

Receptionist: Let me give you her cell number.

Me: I could be a stalking murderer, you know.

Receptionist: Oh, you don't sound like a stalker.

Me: We never do.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 764: The joy of making home repairs together, or, how to go to bed really mad at your spouse

I haven't blogged about this until now because I am lazy and it's a long story.

Here's the quick version. Maybe I'll just stick with this.

Our furnace broke.

Oh heck. I might as well tell you the whole thing.

Remember last year when our furnace stopped working on the coldest night of the year so far and we had to pass the night with nothing but our space heater (thank goodness we had it) and then have the repairman come out, only to find that the problem was that the hoses were clogged because the furnace had not once been maintained since it was installed 13 years ago?

And part of that was my fault, because I had my furnace serviced every year when I lived in Memphis, but it was an 80 year old furnace. Who would think that a 13 year old furnace would need annual servicing?

Well, it does.

Then we had the guy come out in the spring and I don't remember why, but he told us it was on its last legs and we should consider replacing blah blah blah. So we were going to get bids this summer and take our time and replace it. (Yes, we could have repaired the problem parts, but then you get into the "repair vs replace" argument where you know it will cost $900 for one repair and then what if the next thing breaks and pretty soon, you've spent $4,000 in repairs and a new furnace costs $3,400.)

At the beginning of March, it stopped working again.

On a very cold day.

Of course.

SH wanted to diagnose the problem himself. Wanted to fix it himself if possible.

I don't mind that. It's good to have someone in the house who can repair things. Much cheaper.

So I held the flashlight -

Yes, I kept asking if I should get out my hanging light and thick orange extension cord that I bought when I was a sole homeowner, but SH said it wasn't necessary. After an hour of holding the flashlight, I finally got tired of it and got the hanging light anyhow. Which I then had to hold and direct to the dark corners of the furnace.

So I held the light while SH dismantled the furnace. Tested various elements. Looked up the error codes. Cursed. After a few hours (this is not how I wanted to spend my after-work hours), he found a burned-out little doohicky on the printed circuit board on the blower motor.

He went upstairs and started googling. I got ready for bed.

After an hour, he came back down. He had figured it out! The burned-out doohicky had to be replaced. It cost $2 at Radio Shack.

As saving money is even better than [wxyz] to me, I was very happy with this news.

I took a photo of the doohickey and put it on facebook. SH had this to say to our friend Gary in their conversation about the photo:

Gary, that's a "thermistor" or "varistor," not a capacitor. It's some kind of surge protector, which is why it dissipates so much heat. It's ridiculous that something like this is destroyed after 13 years, which is not a long time for a furnace. I may be able to get a compatible (or compatible-enough) part at Radio Shack for a couple of bucks. I don't care if it's the exact part as long as it works; we just want to get a few more months out of this furnace and then replace it.

See why I call it a doohickey? 

And then there was this for those of you who love the technical aspect: 

This "baw" is in a control module for the blower motor, which is apparently a variable-speed device. The furnace has only "low" and "high" heat modes, but the fan speed is adjusted to provide specific volumes of air. This must enable the designers to extract another 1-2% efficiency from the entire unit. It would be a lot simpler if the blower motor were simply hard-wired to provide "low" and "high" fan speeds. I'd be willing to pay a few dollars more for gas each month if the furnace were more reliable!
We put the furnace back together. (I had voted against that, but I lost.) We went to bed.

I got home from work the next day. SH went to Radio Shack. He bought the part. He also bought the thing you use to measure electrical current. And he bought a new soldering iron because the old one was crummy.

We took the furnace apart again. This is not an easy process. It takes about ten minutes and it's a real pain in the neck. It takes longer to put it back together and there is a lot of swearing involved.

SH got out the new soldering iron. Removed the old part. Installed the new one. Squinted and looked at the joins. Clumsy, but, we hoped, efficient.

He pulled out the electrical thingy.

It had no battery.

Which would not have been a problem except it required a specialized battery of which we had none.

SH swore, put the electrical thingy back in the box, went to Radio Shack, returned it, and bought one that did not require a non-standard battery.

Tested the PCB.

The joins, although ugly, were apparently good. Electricity flowed as it should.

We (=SH) put the PCB back in the blower motor. Put the blower motor back in the furnace. Screwed it back to the frame of the furnace. Re-attached all the hoses and the wiring. (Parents! Send your kids to HVAC school! There is a reason furnace repairmen bill out at $100 an hour!) Closed the furnace.

Turned it on.



Turned it on again.


Off. On. Off. On.


That's an awful sound.

I went upstairs and emailed my friends: who knew a good furnace repair place?

Got recommendations.

SH swore.

We took the furnace apart again. Removed the PCB. SH removed the doohickey and then soldered it in again, just in case.
We gave up and went to bed.


We got up in the morning. Decided to try it one more time. I told my boss I would be late because we were going to give the home repair one last shot.


No luck.

Then the tormented discussion: repair or replace?

Along with the anger that we should even have to think of replacing a machine that is only 13 years old. If you pay $3,000 for something, shouldn't it last longer than a dozen years? My furnace in Memphis was 80 years old and it still worked.

Oh sure people say that Wisconsin winters are harder than Tennessee winters and that's true, but eight times as hard?

I don't think so.

So anyhow. Now I'll cut to the chase.

We thought we would have a $2 repair, plus the cost of the electrical thingy and the new soldering iron.

Instead, we have a new furnace.

The end.

PS I know I forgot a ton of details. I guess I do need to write this stuff down right away.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 689: You say tomato, I say, "Didn't you even notice?"

I promise I am not trying to be gross. My apologies to anyone who is grossed out. But maybe you'll understand better after you read this.

Take a look at this photo. What do you see?

I see flowers.

I saw flowers when I took it. Flowers were the only thing I saw.

But after I uploaded the photo to facebook - after I giddily uploaded the photo to facebook, so happy that maybe spring was on the way, even though there are still patches of snow in our yard, SH came downstairs.

"Why did you put a photo of dog poop on facebook?" he asked.

I'd had no idea.

But there you go - a metaphor (an allegory?) for the two of us.

I see the flowers in life.

SH sees the poop.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 675: Baby it's cold out there and that's not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing

You guys know I love SH madly, right? He's a super nice hottie who never bores me. He might annoy the heck out of me, but he never bores me.

Except about politics. I don't want to talk about politics. Not with him, not with anyone.

I miss the days when in polite society, one didn't talk about politics. Not that I guess I remember those days - but I also don't remember politics being the topic of discussion all the time when I was in college or after college or pretty much any time except after I met SH and I made the mistake of chalking that up to a mild aberration. Little did I know that SH was politics obsessed.

So when he is out of town, I miss him. But I am also very happy for the chance to go to bed before 10:30 -

Let me explain what "going to bed" means in our house.

It does not mean, as one might think, that I put on my pjs, brush my teeth, get into bed, and turn out the light.

No. There must be an announcement. And then SH comes downstairs to tell me that I should wait for him so he can come to bed with me because if he doesn't come to bed with me, he'll stay up too late, to which I say, "You can make your own bed and lie in it. I am not in charge of your bedtime."

Then he heaves a deep martyred sigh and says, Fine. Then he'll change his clothes now. And I don't understand why he can't just stay in the clothes he is wearing and has been wearing almost all day, but he says he wants to get out of his nice clothes and put on sweats instead, which makes me say, Well why didn't you change as soon as you got home?

To which he does not have a good answer.

So you think the changing of the clothes would simply be the following:

1. Remove the current clothes.
2. Put them away.
3. Put on the other clothes.

How long do you think Step 2 takes?

Less than a minute? More than a minute? More than three minutes?

We aren't talking about chain mail and armor here. We are talking about jeans, a t-shirt, a button down, a sweater, socks, and shoes.

It takes him over three minutes.


Because every item has to be folded. Perfectly.

And of course he can't just fold it on the bedspread. Nope. The bedspread has cat hair on it. (Yes, we try. We really do. But our non-shedding half Siamese cats apparently got the shedding gene anyhow.)

So he has to flip the bedspread back, then smooth the sheets, then shoo Laverne away, as she has an amazing instinct for being where she does not need to be, then lay his t-shirt down, then fold it. Button-down is put on a hanger, but the seams are tugged straight, the cuffs are smoothed. Jeans are folded. Socks are folded or they go in the laundry. No, he can't keep wearing those socks. Those are the Good Socks. He has to change into the House Socks, which are very similar to the Fluffy Socks except they are not fluffy. But they serve the same purpose: they are for comfort only, not style.

And he has to chatter and sip at his wine this whole time and ask me if I want to hear about the governor of Wisconsin (I don't) or the proposed referendum on re-sizing the Milwaukee County board (I don't). I don't want to talk about anything political with him.

It takes him at least three or four minutes to change clothes and then there is more conversation and then he has to take his Eye of Newt and palmetto sawgrass and niacin and his other potions that will stave off death.

And then I finally get to turn out the light because he finally goes away.

The most important thing to look for in a spouse - other than orphanhood - is that you like to go to bed at the same time. I promise this is more important than religion or politics.

So back why I like it when he's out of town.

1. I get to go to bed when I want
2. There are no conversations
3. I can complain about the weather and not have it be turned into a launching pad for a discussion about global warming.

Marriage 501, Lecture 672: Loving on my mind

While SH and I are fooling around.

SH: I still need to pack for my trip tomorrow.

Me: Hey! You're talking about packing and we're kissing!

SH: You think about other things while we're fooling around.

This is true. Just today, I was thinking

1. I need to get my mom a mother's day card and maybe some chocolate-covered strawberries
2. I need to request a meeting with my boss to talk about the budget for the new international office
3. I need to buy a ticket to the library fundraiser
4. Will I join Toastmasters? I am thinking it might be a good way to network
5. Will it never stop raining?
6. Did SH eat all the cheese crackers from Aldi?

Me: Yes, but I don't say it out loud.

SH: Sometimes you do.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 787: Priorities

SH: I had one beer too many last night.

Me: How many did you have?

SH: Three.

Me: And how much did that cost?

SH: More than ----

Me: More than the flowers I bought the other day?

SH: Yes. So I guess I shouldn't complain when you buy flowers. Or better yet, you should come out with me and drink and then we would agree on how to spend our money.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 987: Qui bono?

SH: Hey! When I said I might vacuum this weekend, I didn't mean I would do the living room!

Me: Would you do it please?

SH: You're the one who's having people over. It's not my book club.

Me: May I present as Exhibit A the political fundraiser that YOU wanted and I did all the work for? All the cooking and the cleaning?

SH: That's different!

Me: How?

SH: Because that was a Noble Cause! I was Fighting the Man! And you were helping.

Me: I didn't want to help.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 786: The fat lady has sung

Me: I think I want to see this opera.

SH: You want to go to an opera?

Me: Yes. I like Mozart.

SH: Since when have you liked opera? I thought you felt the same way about opera as you do about the ballet.

Me: I don't like ballet, but I like opera. I had a subscription to the opera when I lived in Miami.

SH: Are you going to make me go with you?

Me: It would be nice if you would go with me. After all, I go to political events with you.

SH: Going to the opera is nothing like your going to a political event with me.

Me: It is so.

SH: A political event doesn't cost money.

Me: Yes it does. You make a donation.

SH: I would do that whether or not you came with me.

Me: But I still have to suffer being at a political event.

SH: Your wanting me to go to the opera with you is like my wanting you to attend a Jackson Browne concert with me.

Me: No! Not that!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 986: The right way and the wrong way

SH: Did you start stacking the silverware this way because that's how I like it?

Me: Yes.

SH: Not because you think it's the better way to do it?

Me: I don't think it's the better way to do it. I just did it yesterday before you got back [from a five-day work trip] to get you off my back.

SH: I thought you were finally coming around to the right way to do it.

Me: Nope.

SH: Then why didn't you just do it your way to annoy me?

Me: It's not worth the aggravation. You're a far better annoyer than I will ever be.

SH: It is better, you know. Don't you like being able to find the kind of spoon you want faster?

Me: It does not take that much effort to find a spoon. And when you consider the overall time consumed in stacking vs the time it takes to find a spoon when they're not stacked, it's still faster not to stack them.

SH: But it takes precious time to find the spoon when they're not stacked! What if it's an emergency?

Me: What kind of spoon-finding emergency could there possibly be?

SH: When I have gotten up and need a spoon for my breakfast because I'm in a hurry to get upstairs to work. Or I have a conference call.

Me: I don't have those kinds of emergencies.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 675: What are the odds?

SH: The play is two hours and 20 minutes.

Me: Maybe we should take some snacks.

SH: Maybe. What do we have?

Me: We have these chocolates from when we went to Pittsburgh a year and a half ago.

SH: Maybe we should finish those.

Me: Maybe. Oh. I better put them in a plastic bag. The paper would make noise.

SH: Wait! You're not going to put both kinds in the same bag, are you? You can't mix those!

Me: Why not?

SH: Because I want to know what I'm getting! I don't want to take one and not know if it's rosemary or sea salt!

Me: Fine. You do it.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 879: I should write a book called, "Not Doing It Right"

SH: What? You paid $3.89 for this curry paste?

Me: So?

SH: You could have gotten it a lot cheaper at the Indian store.

Me: But it would have taken me an extra half hour to get there, go into the store, find the product, pay for it, and then come home. It didn't seem worth it just to save a dollar.

SH: You could have gotten some samosas, too.

Me: Be my guest. Here are the car keys.