Waterproof Power Tools?

Anyone who reads this column is probably aware of the fact that I have made Ridgid power tools my first choice for most power tools.  You guys are probably going to think that I work for them after I tell you about my experience from Thursday night.

The Spring Thaw is not a good time to be moving into a new house.  I say this because I moved into my new place to find parts of the basement full of water.  After a quick investigation, I realized that the gutters were draining directly into the foundation.  No leaders had been installed to move the water away from the house.

But by the time I realized this the damage was done.  I think most of New England’s record breaking snowfall total ended up soaking its way through my foundation.  This unfortunate fact determined much of my week, as someone had to be around to constantly get rid of the accumulating water.

So after working early in the week to get the basement dry, I next decided to install the leaders that the previous owners had not.  I thought I would be all set for the rain that was being predicted for Thursday night.

When the rain finally arrived, I checked on my recent work.  However, much of the joints between the multiple pieces were leaking.  So donning my rain jacket and a pair of kneepads, I got to work.  I soon realized I was going to have to design something with the pieces that I had in order to keep my next week free from basement drying duty. 

I went outside with my Ridgid compact 18-volt lithium ion drill and reciprocating saw.  I also brought my Ridgid flashlight and compact radio.  With Franz Ferdinand and The Black Keys keeping me company, I engineered a way to solve the situation.  It was so dire that I actually realized I may be “writing off” my tools in order to get the job done.

In the pouring rain, the drill drove and removed numerous screws throughout the three-hour ordeal. At one point, I looked over to see my drill lying in a puddle.  Part of the motor was literally submerged in water.  I picked it up, mentally crossed my fingers, and pulled the trigger.  It still worked.

As great as that was, I was even more impressed with the reciprocating saw.  Three different times, I had to cut the vertical downspouts- while they were rushing with water!  Again, I thought it would be the end of the tool.  It was so soaked that I put it inside so it could dry.  Later in the evening, all that was between me and the completion of my dreary project was a very large, overgrown bush.  I knew the saw would mow right through it, but I was nervous to even try to pull the trigger.  But needing to finish, I went for it.  In three quick cuts, the bush was gone.  I then finished running the last leader and went inside.

I put everything- the saw, drill, radio, and flashlight in front of a fan overnight.  I am pleased to say that this morning everything was in working order, and it all held up during the day.  I’ll let you know if anything fails in the near future.  If not, last night was yet another example of why I like the Ridgid brand.

Avoid Getting Conned at the Gas Station: Never Swipe Twice

We Got Ripped Off in the Desert

I was down in the desert in 120 degrees sweltering heat and wind—every time I went outside, it felt like a  giant hairdryer was just behind me with the heat turned up about seven notches too high. My husband and I were visiting his sick grandmother at the time and made regular trips between the air-conditioned mall, her air-conditioned condo, and the also air-conditioned (but less cheery) convalescent center where she was recuperating from surgery. We felt like we were DOING THE RIGHT THING, but our self-righteous feelings didn’t necessarily make the trip all that enjoyable.


Both the heat and the visits to the doctor were pretty overwhelming for us, but those weren’t the worst parts of our trip--we got double-charged at the gas station for a tank of gas, which sucked slightly more than you might expect. The astute asshole gas station attendant probably noticed that my husband’s name was not Agnes*--the name on his grandmother’s debit card—and decided to have my husband swipe his card through the machine twice. He protested, but the astute asshole gas station attendant protested even more and started claiming that the original charge had already been voided.


My husband made the mistake of swiping twice.


The first transaction hadn’t been voided at all. Two days later, my husband got a phone call from his astute aunt complaining about what she thought was my husband’s excessive use of her mom’s debit card. (To this day, I am unsure whether or not she actually thought my husband intentionally tried to de-fraud his grandma or whether she thought it was just an accounting error.) The over-charge was for $40, not a huge amount, but enough to piss us (and his aunt) off—we never told his grandma about the scam since she had larger issues of life and death on her mind.


So, basically, we were the only ones in the family available at that time to help his grandma, were stuck in the worst heat you could ever possibly imagine, were trying to DO THE RIGHT THING, and were getting bitched at for being cheated by a gas station attendant.


Getting cheated by a gas station attendant is never a nice feeling. I know, because a different astute gas station attendant—this time a woman with lying brown eyes—tried the same thing on us last night. Because we had learned from our prior mistake and understood the importance of NOT MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE, we didn’t swipe our card another time and refused to allow another con artist with a legitimate job title take us for a ride.

Don't forget: Never swipe twice.


*Agnes is not her real name, but is a fairly representative name for her generation.

Image courtesy of Franco Folini

Short Bitch List # 427

3 Things that Bug Me Now

I haven’t given myself the ultimate pleasure of writing a bitch list lately; maybe I’ve been too busy or maybe my life’s been too good lately, but I feel like something is missing whenever I don’t take the time to count the things that I am ungrateful for. (Yes, you can call me the anti-spirit of Thanksgiving if you really feel like it, but you wouldn’t be quite accurate—I also count my blessings on alternate Tuesdays around 4:20.)


I don’t think I’m the only one, but I just feel better whenever I purge myself of all the little shit thangs that drag me down. Here’s a short list of the latest things that are bothering me because I know that despite everything you say and do, you really care deeply about my small gripes and meaningless complaints.


1.     Shitty People. I hate spending time with people that I honestly don’t give a shit about and who honestly don’t give a shit about me. These people come in all forms and all shapes and sizes; I dislike more based on their personalities and major character flaws. Right now, compulsive liars, egotistical maniacs without talent, and bitches rank high on my list of people that I would rather not spend time with. If you happen to fall into one of those categories, don’t take it personally when I don’t spend oodles of time with you.

2.     Drizzling Rain. I am already tired of the rain. I know there is little I can do about it, and that I should be used to raindrops because I’m a Northwest native, but I’m not. Even singing “Singing in the Rain” when I’m walking outside in the rain doesn’t cheer me up any more. (On the off-chance that someone reading this has access to one of those new-fangled weather weapon machines, please program the weather to less rain in the Pacific Northwest for me.)

3.         Bad Hair. I don’t mean your bad hair; I mean mine. No matter what I do and how hard I try, I’ll never have the perfect Farrah Fawcett hairdo and it’s bringing me down, man. (I’m terrified that my secret mission to single-handedly resurrect the Farrah Fawcett hairdo has failed and have been informed by more than one helpful source that a perm might be my only option. Deep down inside, I feel like such a failure as a woman because of the lameness of my hair, but am confident that I will somehow survive the trauma.)


Feel free to add your own meaningless complaints and gripes because I care.


Image Courtesy of flickr user: perpetualplum.




Good Morning Baltimore!

I've got my hairspray and radio, I'm ready to go

This is like the best Baltimore song ever, although, I must say I like the original better.


Oh, oh, oh
Woke up today
Feeling the way i always do
Oh, oh, oh
Hungry for something
That I can't eat
Then I hear that beat
The rhythm of town
Starts calling me down
It's like a message from
High above
Oh, oh, oh
Pulling me out
To the smiles and the
Streets that i love

Good morning Baltimore
Every day's like an open door
Every night is a fantasy
Every sound's like a symphony

Good morning Baltimore
And some day when i take to the floor
The world's gonna wake up and see
Baltimore and me

Oh, oh, oh
Look at my hair
What "do" can compare with mine today?
Oh, oh, oh,
I've got my hairspray and radio
I'm ready to go

The rats on the street
All dance round my feet
They seem to say
"Tracy, it's up to you"
So, oh, oh
Don't hold me back
'Cause today all my dreams will come true

Good morning Baltimore
There's the flasher who lives next door
There's the bum on his bar room stool
They wish me luck on my way to school

Good morning Baltimore
And some day when i take to the floor
The world's gonna wake up and see
Baltimore and me

I know every step
I know every song
I know there's a place where i belong
I see all those party lights shining ahead
So someone invite me
Before i drop dead!

Before she drops dead!

So, Oh, Oh

Give me a chance
'Cause when i start to dance i'm a movie star
Oh, oh, oh
Something inside of me makes me move
When i hear the groove

My ma tells me no
But my feet tell me go!
It's like a drummer inside my heart
Oh, oh, oh
Don't make me wait
One more moment for my life to start...

Good morning, good morning
Waiting for my life to start

I love you Baltimore
Every day's like an open door
Every night is a fantasy
Every sound's like a symphony

And I promise Baltimore
That some day when
I take to the floor
The world's gonna wake up and see
Gonna wake up and see
Baltimore and me...

Yes, More Or Less We All Agree

Baltimore and me...

Someday the world
Is gonna see

Baltimore and me!

The Day It Rained Quiche on Alex Brown

He woke up to the clock radio clicking on thinking about the last shades of a dream about running down a flight of stairs. He stood in the shower reciting song lyrics he didn't know were wrong. He backed out of his parking space at the Green Pines apartment complex thinking, "Today you'll finally be your best, Alex Brown" and hoping not to crush a bug under his wheels. He slammed on his breaks in the middle of an intersection because a torrent of mini-quiches rained down on the street.

When a quiche in a three-inch diameter tin reaches terminal velocity it may disintegrate if the crust has the wrong proportion of butter in it. Its thin, brown top will flake in milliseconds, freeing the dense, moist contents below and scattering bits of egg across the currents such that a man walking to work miles away will be forced to contemplate how a minuscule fragment of scrambled egg found its way onto this particular sidewalk and he will wrongly conclude that it's from one of the nearby restaurants. He'll never know how remarkable it truly is and it won't change his life at all.

But a properly made quiche, butter distributed throughout the crust evenly, will hold against the wind sheer and plummet to earth in a wild, end-over-end twist, exploding on impact. If it lands tin-side down the quiche will burst as if by a small bomb, egg and ham and spinach flying in all directions. If it lands crust-side down it will splatter as if temporarily liquid, depositing the tin somewhere nearby. If it lands on its side it will simultaneously bounce and rip apart but the blunt force of the landing will make rolling impossible. It doesn't matter how it lands if it hits a car. It always ricochets off, leaving behind a small mess and maybe a crack in the wind shield.

Alex's car was at the center of the downpour. The whole thing lasted less than five seconds and then everything was silent. Alex waited a few moments and then ran his wind shield wipers, remembering that he was out of cleaning fluid again. He was afraid to get out of the car, even though he knew he had to. One does not live through a rain of quiche and merely drive away. That is, if one does live through a rain of quiche. The young woman on the sidewalk who had been jogging just seconds earlier was on her side, egg in her hair, her iPod cracked but still playing. When Alex noticed her he jumped out of the car and ran to her.

A young man hopes for something to come of strange moments. He hopes to be remembered and that the sheer weirdness of it all will make a bond between two lives. Alex was okay with the idea of finding his one true love on the day it rained quiche. More than okay. He didn't want, as some forecasts had suggested, to pair off with someone at work, bonding over a Powerpoint presentation and the surprisingly good coffee in the break room. That's life as it really happens, at least for most people most of the time, but it's not the only way things can go. Other things can happen. It can rain quiche for 4.7 seconds and bring two people together by the inexplicable mechanics of fate. It doesn't have to be a normal day.

But a woman struck by a terminal velocity quiche will likely just end up in the hospital, hurt and inconvenienced and out one iPod. Unlike the man who finds her, she'll want to know what caused the quiche to fall so she can sue the express mail company for its negligence in the air transport of said quiche. She'll want to go back to normal because there's nothing fun or fantastic about a concussion.

So, there was Alex Brown, late for work, surrounded by burst quiche, tending to an unconscious jogger and finding her pulse, relieved but anxious, his need for the weirdness to keep going competing with the young jogger's need for the weirdness to have never happened, or for it to be corrected. And Alex knew the best he could be is a guy who at least tries. He called an ambulance and stayed with her, hoping she would wake up before they took her away to the hospital so he might have a chance to at least say hello. And when she didn't, Alex got into his car, drove home and washed it with a sponge and dish soap. He never went back to his job and he never fell in love over Powerpoint and coffee.

How to Work Around Gym-O-Phobia: Work Out at Home Instead

I have gym-o-phobia. While I believe gym-o-phobia is not exactly the technical term used to describe “a deep-seated fear of working out in the gym”, I am hoping that the term is easy enough to understand my purposes here in this post.


When I was in college, a much-more fit and much-hotter roommate took me to the gym to work out—something I hadn’t done since Jr. High when I was first introduced to weights. She tried (and failed) to teach me to do lunges with the weight bar. I almost fell over due to the heaviness of the bar, and couldn’t really understand what I was supposed to do. Much to my chagrin, we got the attention of one of the football players at our school. He laughed at me and my face turned bright red from embarrassment. Fortunately, my roommate wasn’t the shy type and fired back right at him, telling him to “f-ing mind his own business.” She was a little scary, so he retreated and left us alone.


Since then, I’ve worked out off and on for several years, but have always been shy about feeling stupid at the gym. It seems like whenever (and wherever I go) to work out, the normal-looking people retreat into the distance and I am surrounded by super-buff power lifts and yoga queens. It makes me shy. Most people are eager to learn from the personal trainers who roam around the gym, but half of them make me more nervous and insecure. (There are some who actually have inspired me and made me feel tougher, but the number is fewer than you might think.)


Now I work out primarily from home, with DVDs and weights. I do Jillian Michaels on occasion, follow some SELF work outs, do the 100 push up application on my MAC (and no, I’m not anywhere close to the 100 level mark, but I have improved quite a bit.)


I don’t like being on display when I work out, and I still don’t understand the lure of using a stationary bicycle in a spin class with fifty of my closest friends. I’m also worried that I’ll turn right instead of left in any dance classes, and am truthfully not missing the camaraderie that I could find at the gym.


How do you work out? Do you prefer working at home or hitting the gym? Have you had any embarrassing moments like mine at the gym?

Image:  hotelcasavelas

Mysterious Police Evidence


 This site is a place to complain, but today I’m not going to—I know, I know—I’m such a rebel, aren’t I? On Monday, I wrote about my terrible year and how I hoped it would be better this year. I bitched and moaned about a few things—some of them serious and some of them not. And one of the things I complained about was getting pickpocketed.

That same day, I received a notice from the Police Department. I thought, ah great, another parking ticket, and tried to close my eyes when I opened the card so I wouldn’t have to see how much money I owed. When I was finally b rave enough to o pen my eyes, I saw that the Police had evidence in my name. I started fantasizing that somehow I was involved in a fascinating trial or that it was a case of mistaken identity.  I was wondering if I would be called in to testify about something.


It didn’t happen like that.


I went to the Police Station’s Evidence Room to pick up the Mysterious Evidence. I had to push a white button and wait outside for the officer to come. He came before I had the chance to ring the buzzer again. And took my post card and driver’s license and disappeared into the back room for what seemed like forever.


I saw two backpacks being thrown around the back room and started to worry because I didn’t recognize them. Was I being framed? Was this a set-up? Was there weird evidence in the room? Was there a weapon in one of the back-packs? Or lots and lots of weed? A bloody glove with an incriminating match somewhere else?


I tried to remain calm by stuffing three pieces of gum in my mouth. (As a former smoker, this is the only thing that works in the same way. And, no I don’t chew Nicorette .) He took what seemed like forever. I saw another officer—a black woman—moving around behind the glass. It was cold and I wanted to go home.


He came out with a form for me to sign— I had to sign a receipt for miscellaneous cards, a small woman’s purse, and a driver’s license. When he returned with my missing items—gone since May when my wallet/purse was stolen—it was kind of like Christmas . Of course, the cards were cancelled and the license was expired, but no one could use any of those cards to try and use my cards to pretend to be me.

My identity and my evidence were both safe.

I found old receipts stuffed in the various pockets of the wallet. I thanked the police officer and left and wondered if I was the usual kind of person to visit the Evidence Room.


I Hope You Eat S*&%!

Just to let you all know, this morning did not start off well. I woke up way earlier than normal with G who insisted on being up for the day. Then everything outside was covered in ice due to freezing rain so the call from the school came in about a two hour delay. T got up as usual and I thought that even though I’ll be running on only a few hours of sleep for the day it’ll be a good day anyway. The two hours go by and it’s time to take T out to the bus. But she has left ONE shoe in the bedroom where G is down for a morning nap; CRAP.

So in getting her shoe I woke the sleeping beast and had no choice but to take him out to the bus stop with me. I can’t leave him alone in the house for even a second without him getting into everything and climbing every surface he comes in contact with. I wrap him up in my fuzzy throw, slip on my shoes and head out the door. T can wait at the stop by herself; I can see it from the front window perfectly, but she cannot cross the main road by herself.

Even though everything is starting to thaw out from the freezing rain, I know that it is still slick so I am being very diligent in taking caution since I am holding G and do not want to fall with him in my arms. We get almost to the end of the sidewalk and yup, down I go with baby in my arms. I just about got the wind knocked out of me and landed right on my tailbone. G was fine, I caught his fall. I think he thought it was a fun, new game Mommy was playing with him. T was the only one to ask if I was ok as well as if her little brother was okay.

Outside with us were three other ADULTS. They all saw me fall with the BABY in my ARMS and didn’t even look twice at me. No “are you ok? Do you need some help?” or “Is the baby okay?” Nothing, not a word. I was honestly worried about being able to get back up with G in my arms and not falling again. What is wrong with people? Was I just supposed to depend on my 50lb seven year old to help me up with a baby in my arms? Well apparently. As I limped back inside with G I watched out the window with hopes that one of those other mommy dearest would fall flat on their asses in the ice but was sadly disappointed. I mean these weren’t even COMPLETE strangers, they were my NEIGHBORS. Today my view on people isn’t in the highest regard.

Family Secrets: "To Tell or not to tell?"

Family secrets can be very hard to keep inside or….very hard to tell openly. Don’t you think? What happened to me about two days ago was going to change my life…forever. My really close cousin from out of town came to visit my family and I for the holidays and New Years. It was very nice to see my cousin since I haven’t seen him for at least 5 years. So it was really such “great news” that he flew from Denver, CO to Seattle to visit for a good few days. Seeing family over the holidays can feel so heart-warming, nice, sweet, and most importantly, beautiful.

Since my wonderful cousin was in town, I wanted to spend time with him as much as possible until he left to go back home to Denver. Boy….it was so amazing to finally be seeing my cousin after a few years of missed connection. One early afternoon, I went downstairs to brew some coffee in the kitchen. My cousin was downstairs cruising around on his lap top. He looked up and asked how I was doing. I told him I was doing great. Then he sat down next to me to discuss with me openly about some personal “family matters.”

My parents had sponsored both of my two cousins about 14 years ago from Vietnam to the United States. When we first picked them up at the airport, my cousins looked very different and felt a bit “lost” in a very new atmosphere and country. Fourteen years later, they have adjusted to the “American” way of life very well and their English speaking skills are beyond “amazing.” They were very young when they first arrived to the United States, but now that they are a lot older, both of my cousins have changed….ALOT.

While I was waiting for my coffee to brew, my older cousin sat down with me to discuss some heavy, important subjects regarding our “family.” I was looking at him all serious, intense, and very curious of what he had to really say. He had told me that for years…and he means….YEARS, my parents have kept many, and many deep past secrets about our family. In the Asian culture, many traditional families will keep a lot of hidden family secrets away from certain family members in order to protect them and to…..not hurt them too.

Since many of these hidden “family” secrets were kept hidden from me for ALL my life, I will not discuss in full details due to personal, private reasons. I was so RELIEVED and happy to hear all of the hidden secrets that had been kept away from me for so long and to finally hear it from my own cousin. I still do not understand why my own parents would want to keep deep “family secrets from me for this long and not be “open” with me about it. But I do understand that in our culture, it is a sign of “respect,” to not potentially hurt other important family members. But I also will find out all the truth no matter what at a certain point in my adult life because…I deserve to know.

If you were in my situation, how would that make you feel? How would you deal? Would it change your life for good?