Framing a Bargain

In case you didn’t know yet, I’m a bargain hunter.  Sometimes, my quest for a deal far outweighs my common sense. Take my latest deal: a bed frame bought online, delivered to my door, and ready for me to put together.  I saved $187 on this puppy, the average time for someone to put it together is two hours, I have a screw driver, and hell, I’m ready!  Bring it on!.

My daughter bet me $15 I couldn’t put this bed together in two hours.  Like I said, I love a bargain and knew this was easy money, so I took her up on that bet.  For your enjoyment the following is my adventure, starting bright and early in the morning.

8:00am: First cup of coffee, pulling hair into cutesy pony tail.  I’m stoked; let’s video this for YouTube.

8:10: Opening box with a kitchen knife since I don’t know where my scissors are.

8:15: What the hell is an allen wrench?

8:32: Oh, that’s an allen wrench.

8:45: Bright idea:  I can’t move this heavier-than-expected box to the bedroom, so let’s dump the contents out right here and carry them there.

8:46: Why in the hell are there this many parts to a stupid bedframe?

9:04: Ok. All set up. No, not the bed, just my bed-putting-together area. Opening package of nuts and bolts.

9:05: Well hell, who knew bolts bounced like that on carpet? Those suckers sure can roll too.

9:15: Using magnet from the refrigerator door to gather the nuts and bolts.  Pretty sure I got them all.

9:20: Instructions are in Japanese. This is unfortunate.

9:34: Pets are gathering around me in curiosity.  One dog has become designated project manager.  The ne’er-do-well (aka Holly the Cat) does not approve.  Daughter is rocking back and forth with her hands over her face.

9:47: I have managed to fasten “A” to “B.”  This is going to be a snap now.

10:24: All “A’s” are now fastened to all “B’s.”

10:26: I notice what seems to be a small warning that all “C” pieces needed to be lined up with the “B” pieces before fastening to the “A” pieces.  You would think they would put that in bigger print. Preferably in English.

10:48: Small disagreement with daughter over exactly when the “two hours” bet began.  She has graciously allowed me an additional two hours.  I don’t appreciate her smirk, I’ll tell you that much.

11:26: The dog is a distraction.  He is watching me and making me nervous.  I can’t work like this.

11:43: To my daughter: Why in the hell are you still filming? Put the phone down and come help me or I will disown you and all of your future children for sixteen generations.

11:52: The cat is staring at me with disdain.  I don’t like the implication that she thinks she’s better than me.

12:24pm: Daughter appears to be shocked by my language, claiming it is both inappropriate and anatomically impossible.  The neighbors from three doors down agree. All furry inhabitants of my house have relocated to the opposite end of my condo.

12:36: I seem to have scraped my knuckles using this allen wrench. It is uncomfortable but I will press on.

12:54: I have had to send daughter to the pharmacy for band-aids and Neosporin.  I suspect I am close to losing consciousness from blood loss.

1:22: The frame seems to be halfway complete now.  I need to place the spokes into the holes for the headboard.  It looks as though they will easily screw right in.

1:23: The spokes will not easily screw right in.

1:25: The spokes can be jammed in and hammered together with a mallet, however.

1:54:  Whoever invented this God forsaken allen wrench to begin with?

2:03: I can’t fit “tab AAA” into “slot ZZZ,” so I am Gorilla Gluing the pieces together. Thank the gods that be for Gorilla Glue.

2:14: This bed is surely one of the nine circles of Hell that Dante referenced.

2:56: I never want to sleep on this piece of crap bed frame.  May all of the designers of this bed frame live forever in a flea-infested home.

3:24: I am done.  I have sixteen extra pieces, but I have no idea where they belong.  I am going to ignore the extra nut and bolt, too.

3:29: I am drinking a bottle of wine and trying to get my animals to come out from under the couch.  My daughter chooses this moment to remind me that I owe her $15.

3:30: I Gorilla Glue $15 to my daughter’s shirt. The one she’s wearing.

All told, I am thrilled that I put the thing together myself; I’m always proud when I finish a complicated project.  I also keep reminding myself of just how cheap this thing was … that cheers me up a bit. That said, I can’t help but wonder two things.  How on earth will I ever get this thing apart again when I’m ready to move?

And how do I unglue my fingers from the dog?

Lessons Learned

It was a typical day at Sam’s Club and there I was with my army-sized supply of toilet paper and a five-quart jug of peanut butter, waiting in line.  I was standing behind a group of elderly ladies and trying not to be nosy, but since two of the three were wearing hearing aids that appeared to be off, it was hard not to listen.

The first thing that hit me is that when you get older, your give-a-damns just disappear.  Nothing is off-limits.  I. Cannot. Wait.  I love these women. I want to be these women. I thought I had a snarky attitude, but I could learn a thing or two from these lovely seniors. They are my heroes.

Emily:  Yeah, I am so happy I found the value pack of these Depends. The Grateful Dead tribute band tickets go on sale next week and I want to be ready to stand in line.

Margaret:  Did you see the gallon sized Preparation H?  I didn’t see the gallon size of the Preparation H.

Joan:  What?

The next thing I realized is that these ladies, easily in their 90’s, get lucky way more often than I do.

Emily:  I’ve got a date with George tonight.

Margaret:  Didn’t you break your hip last time you saw George?

Emily (with a faraway smile):  Why yes, yes, I did.

Joan:  What?

And that being older doesn’t necessarily mean being nice. My Grandma Mooney taught me this lesson. These women just solidified the idea.

Emily:  Did you see Ethel’s bathrobe last night at the buffet?  I can’t believe she’d wear that!  It shows everything she’s got, the wrinkled old bitty.

Margaret (stage whisper):  I heard that she’s sleeping with Frank.

Emily:  Frank has the clap.

Joan:  What?

They didn’t quite get the whole concept of social media – though, really, this was to be expected. These ladies were obviously out and about and active, and no doubt spending their free time with tribute bands, and seriously, who wouldn’t?… with no time for idly sitting in front of a computer.

Emily:  I saw my youngest great-granddaughter, Jessica, today. She was busy on her cellular phone, putting on posts to Snaptalk.

Margaret (with a not-so-slight tone of ‘I know better than you’):  It’s Facechat, dearie.

Emily:  What?

Joan:  What?

I had a little déjà vu when we got closer to the check-out … I swear, I’ve had this same conversation with my mother. I won’t tell you which one of us is which in this scenario.

Emily:  Margaret, hand me my checkbook.  I think I have one check left in there.

Margaret (busily counting quarters and pennies): No, Emily, you used that in the dollar store.

Emily:  Are you sure?  Hand me my pocket-book.  Are you sure?

Margaret:  One hundred thirteen, one hundred fourteen… damn it, Emily, you made me lose count!

Emily:  Found it!  Now where is my license? 

Joan:  What?

I felt bad for listening in and was trying to read a magazine to drown them out, but they just wouldn’t stop.  These ladies never met an ailment they didn’t like and enjoyed the challenge of topping each other’s illnesses:

Emily:  My knees are really acting up today.

Margaret:  Oh?  My blood pressure is up.

Emily:  My heart feels funny…

Margaret:  I died last night, but I feel better now.

Joan:  What?

At this point, I felt like I knew them personally, so I made sure to wish them a great day.  Emily and Margaret nodded and smiled, heading out the door, but Joan looked at me blankly.  I repeated, “Have a nice day” in my outside voice and she leaned towards me.

“You know, I can hear perfectly well. I just find it more fun if it appears that I can’t. I’m seeing George on the side, Ethel’s my sister, I gave Frank the clap, and honestly, I can’t stand those two.”  Then she smiled and toddled after her friends to the door.

One last lesson I learned about the elderly today?  I cannot wait until I’m old enough to be Joan!

 

 

Valentines and Self-Realization

The older I get, the more I realize that my mother was right after all. I am just like my Grandma Mooney.

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Grandma Mooney & the Case of the Vinegar Valentines

Valentine’s Day always reminds me of my Grandma Mooney (more specifically, she was my Great-Grandmother). That may seem odd to some people (to think of grandparents around a holiday meant for couples), but there’s a reason behind it.  She was actually quite a colorful character… and then some. And one of her favorite things to do centered round Valentine’s Day.

It’s not really observed much anymore, but back in the day people would give out what were called “vinegar valentines.” They were basically insult cards with a caricature drawing on the front and a small acidic poem on the back that tended to call people out as being either foolish, a spinster, a loser, etc. You get the idea. They were pretty unflattering for the recipient and not exactly the heartwarming valentines we give out now covered in hearts and roses. Grandma Mooney absolutely loved giving these out to so-called loved ones and friends.

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It was one of her favorite times of year because, while she may have been thinking these evil thoughts all year, now she was able to put those thoughts to paper. And let me tell you, she got serious pleasure out of poring over who would get what card. If memory serves they were sent out anonymously so the person receiving the snail mail insult couldn’t be sure who thought they were an idiot, but rest assured, someone out there in the world did. The ironic part is that Grandma Mooney would get super pissed if she ever got one. She sent them out by the bucketful but getting even one in return was blasphemous.

I wish I could’ve seen her face as she was picking out the cards and sending them out. It’s hard to picture without having seen it up close, but anytime Grandma Mooney was up to trouble, she’d laugh… not out loud… but sort of an internal laugh so that her massive bosom shook like jelly. Watching her go through her stash of valentines with an intensity more often seen in a tax auditor and the inevitable intervals of shaking as she came across just the perfect one for say… Georgie or Carlene… would’ve been a hoot. Although I’m just guessing that these two were among the lucky recipients.  Grandma Mooney always kept her list top-secret so no one could rat her out.

In truth, though, I almost wish more that I could’ve seen what she did when she opened up one that she had received. I’d be observing that from a very safe distance of course.  I mean, there’s just no sense in poking an already pissed off bear. Grandma Mooney would’ve made Sherlock Holmes proud though… because after receiving one of these heart to heart communiqués in the mail, she suddenly became a resolute and determined investigator, examining handwriting, postal stamps, and whatever else would give her a clue as to who sent it.  She’d wander around the house muttering names for a week as she narrowed down the list of suspects. And when she finally had that “eureka!” moment and was convinced she knew the perpetrator of this horrible crime, she immediately began planning the coming year’s list, editing it accordingly, and putting that person’s name in the top position. Ahh… it’s the simple joys that mean the most.

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that I was just like my Grandma Mooney. I’d take offense at that if I could only figure out how to argue the rationale. Admittedly, I can see the similarities — though not to the extremes of my enjoying sending anonymous insults. But I do share some of her ornery eccentricities. In some respects, it may seem like an awful comparison — but along with her cantankerous quirks, my grandmother had a heart of gold and took care of her family above all else. So I guess when all is said and done, I’m pretty happy to be compared to her.

 

Smarter than the Average Bear

We all know that proud, overly-sharing parent, the one who is amazed their child can do perfectly ordinary things.  “My daughter Marjorie can add up to ten!”  Your daughter Marjorie is in college, Karen.  “Look at little Timmy read this book!”  It’s a picture book, Barbara.

If you’re like me, you want to back-end every car sporting a “My Kid is an Honor Roll Student” bumper sticker, and you snicker at the “My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Roll Student.”  I have a new bumper sticker:  My Super Smart Dog Bit Your Honor Roll Student.

If you ask me, there’s not enough focus on the truly smart animals in our lives.  Anyone who thinks animals can’t count has never tried to give three biscuits to a dog who is used to getting four at a time.  The internet abounds with videos of horses counting and even if it is a trick of clever training, the idea that a horse can be trained to appear to count is pretty freaking amazing.

Recently, a family member was gushing about her toddler who knew where the pretzels were kept in the house.  She even went so far as to surreptitiously record her child in this endeavor to share with the audience. This tiny human marvel could even open the pantry door and get the pretzel jar, but the act of unscrewing the tightly closed lid thwarted her adorably chubby little hands.

Awww, isn’t that cute.

My dog knows where the treats are.  He opens the kitchen cabinet, gets his treats, opens the box, and eats his fill. I will admit, he hasn’t quite grasped the idea that cleaning up after himself might be to his advantage. At the least, as I keep explaining to him, it would buy him some time before being found out. I had to put childproof locks on drawers and doors and everything in between to foil my cat, the ne’er-do-well, who is apparently a master locksmith and can open any barrier placed in front of her.  So long as she wants whatever is behind it, that is.  My friend shakes her head sadly when telling me about her German Shepherd who can unlock door handles, open the door, and go into any room she likes.  Baby gates? Pfftt. It’s like you’re not even trying. Cabinets and drawers and off-limit rooms are nothing to these animals, so while I think it’s adorable that your toddler can find the pretzels, I am holding my applause for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I know kids are smart.  Heck, I’ve had two kids raise and train me perfectly.  I just think it’s funny when over-effusive parents boast about ordinary milestones in a completely unironic way.  “Look, she’s only 144 months old and she can recite the alphabet!”

Yeah, Lois, very nice.  Can you hold the cat while I call the vet?  She opened my locked bedroom door, climbed a ladder, cracked my wall safe, and got into the treats that I thought were for sure out of reach this time.  And let me know if you’ve seen the dog, my car keys are missing, and I think he drove down the street to see that damn poodle. Again.

Don’t even get me started on that horse next door who keeps blowing the whistle on my trips to the refrigerator at night; I never should have gotten him binoculars for Christmas.

 

Sticking to Beauty

It’s unbelievable the lengths someone will go to for the sake of vanity.  Case in point?  This lady happily taping her neck to hide her throat wrinkles and wattles.

The inventor of this medical-grade neck wrinkle tape is no stranger to the beauty scene; she gave us the lip plumper (an adult lollipop with no flavors, basically).  She is apparently a grandmother of three at the age of sixty, so there’s that.

No offense to this beautiful lady, but there is no way this tape would work for me.  I superglue my fingers together every time I try to fix a vase, so I can’t imagine trying to tape my neck wattles in the back.

First, you know as well as I do that I would end up taping my hair to my neck.  Doesn’t matter how carefully I pull it back, it will end up taped to my shirt, my face, the mirror, and my dog.  And while this tape may not work on neck skin, I guarantee it will stick to anything and everything else. That’s just a given.

Second, I am well aware of my own luck.  The tape would blow out half-way through a presentation at work, setting my epic folds free in a glorious explosion of skin and fat … I can see the slow-motion capture on YouTube now.  My peers would be utterly transfixed and fascinated by my waving wattles; they couldn’t possibly be expected to take me seriously after that. The tape, under the super pressure I’d need to rein in my wrinkles, would slingshot across the room, taking out a few coffee cups on the way and smacking the new CEO square in the forehead.

Look, I’m all about women doing whatever they need to do to feel better about themselves, but neck tape?  Please, ladies, just say no to neck tape.

I agree that our necks can make us look much older than we are, so I proudly introduce my own invention:  wattle staples.  These can be used in any common stapler, and they aren’t just for neck wrinkles!  Got sagging boobs?  Staple ‘em.  Droopy butt?  Staple it!  And those obnoxious butterfly wings under your arms?  Staple those, too.  I have a staple for everything!  Defy your age, and gravity, by Stapling It! You know, I really should be on Shark Tank with all of my fantastic ideas. I’ve got entrepreneur stapled written all over my face.

OK, so the concept of taping your neck is actually not a new one. There are lots of other brands and uses, too.  Many stars have been taping body parts for years.  I applaud them for not going under the knife, but I am disappointed that they are setting the example for us common folk that aging is unnatural and evil.  It’s not.  I’ve earned every wrinkle, crease, and droop on my gloriously imperfect body. And so have you.

Come on, I mean, we have fake nails, fake boobs, fake butts, fake eyelashes, and even fake hair; now, we have neck tape to complete the package?  Yes, feeling good about yourself is important, but why aren’t we happy with ourselves to begin with?

I blame media for setting unrealistic beauty goals for women. Aging stars are displayed in all of their perfection, looking half their age, as beautiful and timeless as money can buy.  And make no mistake, money does buy youth.  Age-defying stars and models probably spend more money on time-stopping surgeries than most of us will ever invest in mortgages. Even those stars who want to age gracefully are often victims of post-photo shoot airbrushing because the editor of so-and-so magazine decided they didn’t want a naturally aging woman on their cover. God forbid. Hell, even those stars who are already flawless are routinely airbrushed to create a next-level completely unattainable vision of youth and beauty.

For the rest of us, thank God there is medical-grade neck tape!  Ladies (and some guys, too), do what you need to do to feel beautiful, it’s none of my business.  Frankly, though, spending $16 plus shipping and handling on neck tape is a little silly when you can get duct tape at the dollar store for fifty cents.  You’re welcome.

The Art of Gaming

I’ve talked about video games before. My kids played when they were younger, then in their teens, and still to this day. Their grandmother before them was a die-hard gamer. In addition to the strictly for fun or ‘feeding the rage-monster side of your personality’ class of games, there are science-y games, math games, even reading games, all of which help nurture a love for learning. My kids had them all … today, however, the educational games have decidedly progressed to the point that STEM camps and classrooms use them as a tool in an ever-growing instructional arsenal.  This is a good thing.  For the most part, though, parents – and adults in general, see video games as a waste of money, a waste of space, and a waste of time.

Before you tell your son or daughter to get off the computer, stop playing those useless games, and get a life, stop and consider: some people make a full-time living playing video games.  Between live streaming themselves on You Tube, testing out apps and games for the market, and competing in real-time challenges for pay, someone can make some pretty good scratch playing computer games.

It’s a shame, really, that you can’t add video gaming skills to a job resume.  Other than “annihilating your enemies,” and “driving the get-away car really fast,” video games teach kids valuable life lessons.  Don’t believe me?

Computer skills:  This is a no-brainer, but you need decent computer skills to excel in video gaming.  Many games have “mods,” for instance, which are modifications that the user can design and use in-game.   Games develop hand and eye coordination, and many kids can thank the gaming world for their ability to trouble shoot computer issues, type without looking at the keys, and think quickly on their feet.  Today’s kids are much more advanced in computer skills than their parents ever will be; ask any kid who has tried to walk their parent through using Skype, the latest iteration of Excel, or God help us all, PowerPoint.

Team Building and Leadership:   Parents may not be aware of this, but to excel in many video games the players need to join alliances and become team players to beat the challenges.  These kids are also learning the art of commitment and follow-through, even in a virtual world. A player’s online reputation is important to them; reliability and loyalty are valuable traits in a player.   Kids will develop pretty tight online friendships with teammates, and to them, meeting up to kill a troll in a game is as much a firm Friday night plan as going to the mall used to be for us parents but with a little more sorcery, swordplay, and bombing.

Problem Solving:  So how exactly does a fifteen-year-old raid an enemy camp, steal supplies, kill the leader and escape undetected?  This skill may not equate to real world experience; I’m pretty sure no boss will instruct an employee to break into a rival’s office, steal pens and staplers, and poison the air filtration system.  Still, these game quests teach kids to use logic and reasoning to solve complex issues – skills that can translate to any activity in the real world. Frankly, grocery shopping would be a lot more fun if we could add an element of video gaming to it.  Sneak up on fellow shoppers and take stuff out of their carts, joust in the aisle of the store, and barter for coins?  Yes, please!

Time Management:  In the video game world, many challenges revolve around time.  You may only have a set number of minutes to finish a quest, or you lose a life.  Imagine this in the real world; if you don’t get all of the items on your grocery list in a preset amount of time, your cart disappears, and you have to start all over again.  Personally, I’d love that.  It would take care of those lollygaggers in the produce aisle once and for all. I know, I know, I keep mentioning grocery stores … I’m hungry.  But seriously, in a dog-eat-dog business setting? Time is everything. Time management is a much-needed skill.

Thinking Ahead:  Video games today are far more complex than Space Invaders.  Older video games that we grew up on didn’t rely as heavily on fast thinking and planning; most of our games were luck and plain old good timing.  Today’s video games require luck, good timing, planning, logic, and thinking ahead.  Players need to consider their plans carefully, and they learn from prior defeats in similar quests.  They are constantly thinking, plotting, and planning.  These abilities are valuable in the job market as well as all-you-can-eat buffets.  Sorry, I’m still hungry.

Parents need to chill a little if they have a kid obsessed with online gaming.  Limit their onscreen times (duh), but don’t dampen their enthusiasm entirely.  After all, today’s kids didn’t invent obsessive hobbies.  Remember Saturday morning cartoons? Comic books? Rubik’s Cubes? Pac-Man? In fact, if you really want to look at it, our obsessions didn’t teach us a damn thing except that if you gulped cherries you became super charged, if you peel the stickers off the cube and stick them back on you could tell people you solved the cube, and the coyote will never catch that road runner no matter how many Acme products he buys.

Our kids may be obsessed and afraid of daylight, but they can take out a zombie with a slingshot and damn it, that’s a handy skill to have.

Circling back to that “driving the get-away car really fast” observation, check out this news story (click pic for the article) … See? Video games do pay off!

Midday Musings

Here I am … at my desk eating lunch — having come to the decision that venturing out in the 10 degree weather we’re currently experiencing just isn’t something I’m willing to do. At least not until my warm bed, accompanied by a steaming cup of spiked coffee with tons of whipped cream, is the destination.

So, as I’m sitting here with my cup of veggie Ramen, pondering my life’s path and the deeper meaning of the world around me, I’ve come to a personal realization that exemplifies the entirety of my frustration with the choices I’ve made thus far.

I’m getting tired of waking up and not being at the beach.