20 Mar

Uncomfortable Shopping

I’ve learned that if you go to Radio Shack for an A/V cable of any kind, you need to take a visual aid with you. It’s otherwise impossible to communicate to Radio Shack employees what you’re looking for.

When I walked in to the store today, the scene was typical: two employees, no customers. I pulled out my visual aid and said, “I need to replace this cable with a superior one.”

One employee headed toward the back of the store; the other said, “By superior, you mean better?”

I thought maybe he was screwing with me. On the brink of saying, “That’s what superior means,” I held my tongue and said, “Yes.”

He showed me a couple of options. One was $20 and the other $30. “What’s the difference?” I asked.

He pointed to the $30 one and said, “This one has Time Correct Windings.”

When I asked him what that meant, he said, “It means the cable is wound so that it’s timed with the frequency of the audio.”


I made my choice, and at the cash register, he asked if I needed any batteries.

I chuckled. “Does that ever work? The battery offer?”

“Oh, yeah.”



Awkward silence. I signed for the purchase.

13 Dec

Rest in Peace, Puppy


Well, yesterday the puppy rapidly deteriorated in the afternoon. He was lethargic and vomited repeatedly. So we took him to our local vet, who stabilized him with fluids and some medication so that he could handle the trip to Milwaukee. We drove him to Milwaukee last night and handed him over to the rescue organization we adopted him from so that they could get him into their vet hospital. He had been diagnosed with parvo, which has a 50% mortality rate. Not good.

But we were hopeful because he didn’t have a fever and we had caught it somewhat early. This morning, we got a report that he’d made it through the night and that he was eating — another good sign. But then tonight, we got the call telling us that he’d passed away at about 5:30.

I was surprised by how devastating the news was. We’d only had him for four days, but in that short time, we’d grown quite attached to the little guy. He was a sweet dog.

29 Aug

Wiscostorm Index (late summer edition)

Number of apple varieties I sampled in July and August: 23

Percentage of those varieties I’ve never tried before: 74

Number of new apples that make my top ten list: 1

Number of new apples with “red” in their name: 4

Number whose flavor reminds me of Lik-a-maid dipsticks:1

Number I wouldn’t buy again: 7

Average number I eat per day now that apple season is underway: 4

Number of apple trees I want to plant in my backyard: 6

Pounds of apples I purchased on Saturday: 8.5

Number of apples I got for free since I talk to the vendors: 4

Dreams I’ve had involving apples in the past week: 0

Dreams I’ve had involving school: 5

20 Aug

The Beginning of the End

It starts with the ridiculously early back-to-school sales. I heard reports of some at the beginning of July this year. Three weeks into summer, for God’s sake! Must have been because of the recession. Retail is freaking out, creating sales/hype for whatever reason they can think of. Halloween sales start on Labor Day. Scary ha ha*.

The next phase is the mailing you get from the district. There’s something in there from everyone — the superintendent, the assistant to the superintendent, the principal, the assistant principals, the regional manager, his assistant, and then various committees, like the social committee, who wants you to bring something for the potluck lunch on that first staff-only day.

From there, it’s all downhill. You get more and more emails from staff full of claims that they’re excited about the upcoming year. You run into colleagues at the grocery store, who say, “See you in a couple weeks!” And all the fake cheeriness makes you so self-loathing that you just go ahead and check your class lists online.

And then the dreams come. Oh, the dreams. Your class is huge, completely unmanageable. The room is one you’ve never been in before. You’ve forgotten to bring textbooks or handouts or anything else you should pass out to the students. You’re teaching a subject you haven’t prepped for. You’re late to every class period. You’re not wearing pants. Scary strange*.

*(I’m coining two new phrases. You know how the word funny needs clarification? Funny ha ha or funny strange. Well, I think scary needs a similar distinction. Scary ha ha is the type of scary that deserves derision; scary strange is the kind that sends a chill down your spine.)