grrgoyl: (Vendetta V)

We had Christmas four days early this year, because we're grown-ups and can do as we please -- and we got socked with ten inches of snow, Tery took a four-day weekend, and wanted toys. 

So I'm writing this on my new tablet.  It's pretty damn awesome, like my phone but three inches bigger; and after a few short hours playing with it, my phone already seems comically tiny and I can't imagine how I did anything on it (just now Tery brought it in from where it had lain forgotten under today's mail, and I cried, "Nobody wants a Charlie-in-the-box!") 

Not to mention the wi-fi network I had to set up to get online with the tab is pretty sweet, and surprisingly painless to establish, considering my adversarial history with all things wireless.

So maybe we can expect to see more updating from me in the future.  Merry xmas to all of us.

My second-best present was the book "Harry Potter: Page to Screen," which is gorgeous and truly so enormous we might need to add a new wing to the condo just to house it (you know those corny fantasy films where the wizard leafs through a spell book the size of a coffee table? This book is about that big.  If you were reading it before bed and fell asleep with it on your chest, you'd be crushed instantly).  Still, for all its girth, it took a full five minutes of paging through before I found one picture of Snape.  >:(

Tery enjoyed her presents as well, being as they were mostly running-oriented.  So I would say the Christmas of a Thousand Dreams (as I've been marketing it all month) was a roaring success!


Unless you count my cynicism bordering on anxiety about certain recent  political developments--I'm referring to some very scary legislation that you'd never think stood a chance of getting passed in America (NDAA and now SOPA. Look them up if you think I'm overreacting).

Not helping my near-hysteria in the slightest was the arrival of an email from my dearest friend H, an isolationist in the best of times who now sounded like his paranoia had reached critical mass in the six months since our last communique.  His email was peppered with links supporting his thesis that "the internet has been compromised" (hence my protecting his identity here).

I'm including here my response, because I think it sums up pretty well my present feelings, and my blog, in addition to entertaining me, has proven to be a great source for future historical references.

"Once upon a time I would have said, 'Oh, H, my adorable conspiracy theorist.' Not any more.

I didn't click on any of your links because frankly, I already know too much. I don't want to know these things I know, and I damn well don't want to learn any more. I want to go back to being angry about stupid things like picking up Tery's socks one more time, or that every time I go for an oil change it costs me $500 (forever finding maintenance jobs to do on my 14-year-old car). I don't want to think of my government as sinister, and I don't want to live with the fact that the people we're hoping will fix things are a very big part of the reason things are the way they are in the first place.

I want to live in the Fox News bubble, or no-spin zone or whatever they're calling themselves these days. I want to point at Occupy and say "dirty lazy hippies." I want to read my Snarry, play my Angry Birds, watch my Netflix and imagine that none of this has anything to do with me.

I want to tell Morpheus to give me the blue pill, please, and I want a steak, medium rare.

I sign online petitions. I signed about a million of them to try to stop NDAA, and now I'm signing a million more to stop SOPA. And I've written to everyone including Obama about both. All I get back are dog-and-pony-show form letters, and I know it's a fucking waste of time, but I feel like I have to do SOMETHING. And I can't march with Occupy because they have their big actions on Saturday when I always have to work, and anyway I don't want to get pepper sprayed and/or end up in Gitmo one day.

Everyone says the answer is to vote out all the incumbents. But November is 20 years away, and anyway MyFriendDeb asks "and replace them with who?" And she's right. Which of them can we trust? A lot of Occupiers say Ron Paul, and I know he's on the right page for economic reasons, but his position on the rest of the issues kind of sucks.

If I could have a Christmas wish this year, it wouldn't be for world peace. It would be for everyone to behave, for the politicians and the bankers and the 1% to stop thinking of themselves and their secret agendas and to just give a shit about their fellow human beings for a fucking day. It would be for America (and the world) to go back to a place I'm not scared to live in."

That's my naive little wish.  Naive because H is convinced there's a far bigger end-game, somewhere down the road, and all these little grabs of power and erosions of our rights are quite, quite deliberate and straight out of some tyrannical playbook. 

It isn't just the two of us. Check out the mad ramblings of Rick, the radical refrigerator repairman, a full two years ahead of his time. Perhaps not so radical anymore?

I've already said too much.  Happy Holidays everyone!

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

grrgoyl: (Dylan parka)
There's just no getting ahead in this world, lemme tell you.

We finally got all our appliances up to date a little over a year ago. In the words of Edward Norton in Fight Club, "You say to yourself, whatever else happens, I've got that sofa appliance problem handled."

And you do, until the appliances suddenly stop working. Which is what our fridge did two days ago. I went to pull out a lovely Stouffer's Panini for lunch, and noticed the box was a bit...mushy. Not room temperature mushy, but definitely not frozen. (Please note that I am not an employee of Stouffer's or its affiliates.) GodDAMMIT.

Obviously I hoped it was something minor and easily fixed. This fridge has let us down before. I think a few months into owning it we noticed significant ice buildup in the bottom of the freezer. Some internet investigation revealed that the stupid manufacturers (Whirlpool, if you must know) somehow screwed something up in the defrosting coils at the back so heat didn't get down into the drain like it was supposed to, causing it to get backed up with huge chunks of ice. Luckily I found a 13-dollar thingamabob that hooked over a heating coil and hung down into the drain, conducting heat far enough down to keep the ice from forming. Easy. And, might I add, made me feel pretty damn capable for about a week. But WTF, Whirlpool? Did you guys lose the blueprint for building refrigerators?

I tried the internet thing again looking for a source of this problem: it was on and running, keeping things cool but not cold enough. It turned out this constellation of symptoms was far too general to be diagnosed in just one afternoon on Yahoo Answers. I followed my friend Gerry's advice and decided to call a repairman the following day.

I won't bore you with how I chose one, suffice to say he was top rated on a site called "service magic" that claimed to prescreen all their contractors. The guy (Rick) had review after glowing review of people describing how he charged less than they expected, gave them honest advice, and was highly knowledgeable. Having dealt with the man, I'm not arguing with any of that.

He showed up before noon, for which I was immensely grateful. He looked like a wild west prospector, decked out in a plaid shirt and Wrangler jeans, with a long gray beard -- not Gandalf long, but longer than is considered fashionable. He came in and immediately set to work. I hate having service personnel in my house -- I never know if they prefer me to stand and watch or go about my business. In Rick's case I assume it was the former, as he was a chatter, although the majority of his conversation was with himself ("Did you remember to bring the thing from your truck? Oh good, you had your head on straight today.")

Old Rick was eccentric, that's for sure, and I'm not just talking about the voices in his head (read on). After a series of "That's a bad sign," and "Now why aren't you turning on?" and "Drum roll, please" (his favorite phrase upon every dramatic occasion of plugging the fridge back in), he concluded that the compressor was blown, and that a new one would cost $700. GODDAMMIT.

"This fridge is only 6 YEARS OLD" I fumed to him. Which turned out to be a big mistake. I suppose it's only natural that he has an opinion or two on the state of modern appliances, except his views went above and beyond heating coils and condensor fans. Sit back and prepare for an earful, like I endured.

NAFTA ruined this country. He thinks America is headed in the wrong direction. And Obama is the "Antichrist." Naturally I had him pegged as a raging Republican, and my hackles were fully raised (it was right about this point that I sidled up and discreetly removed the BDSM Jesus magnet from the fridge). But it turns out he hates ALL government. It's all owned by big corporations, which is why nothing ever gets done. He hasn't voted since 1980. That's a long time to be disgruntled, my friends.

Normally one would say, "Do you have a better idea, hot shot?" Old Rick does. He's got a whole Five Year Plan to get us back on track (well, Three Year at this point -- he estimates it should all be done by 2012 by the latest). First he wants to do away with income tax and instead have a flat 20% sales tax, which I can't say I like the sound of much. He thinks that will take money (and power) away from big business (except for manufacturers and distributors, I suppose).

He also wants true term limits, no more lifelong office holders (and no more paying presidents after they leave office, which I must say I support). He's also got it all outlined how to get a true candidate of "the people" in office (who this political Messiah is he didn't mention), which seems to me is what Ralph Nader's been trying to do for years, so why does Rick think he's got it all figured out? It all involves donating $1 to his website and swearing to vote for his candidate and get two other people to visit it.

See, he had all these ideas, just no way to get them into the right hands. I doubt preaching to bored housewives was getting him very far either. It all sounded very grassroots and radical, and made me more than a little uncomfortable. As he got increasingly passionate and wild-eyed, I just kept thinking, "Please, I just want my milk to be cold again."

It wasn't just the government that was corrupt. According to Old Rick, the whole Energy Star thing was a huge scam. "Our stoves used to run on 1200 watts (don't quote me, I don't remember the number), now they run on 24. BUT the only way to run on so much less is to have a computer chip in there managing it. So where's the savings??" he demanded to know. I didn't follow his logic exactly, since 24 IS considerably less than 1200. However, if the appliances end up in a landfill every 6 years anyway, it seems that might counteract any good accomplished by Energy Star.

FINALLY he made to leave. I was really afraid he was going to induct me into his cult, but he seemed content to slap a sticker inside one of our cabinets, not entirely with my consent -- I would have been happy with just a business card that I would have written across in red Sharpie "FREAKING NUTJOB. NEVER CALL AGAIN," but he was adamant (I took it out the second he was gone). The funny thing was on neither his card nor the sticker was there any sign of a website, so I think his plan needs a bit more work to get up and running.

I just wanted my fridge fixed, not a goddamn manifesto that would change the free world.

Anyhoo. I broke the news to Tery, who promised to be home early so we could go shopping. Of course I was still stuck working in a 90-degree flat, and without the promise of so much as an ice cube to suck on, YOU try thinking about ANYTHING ELSE.

The good of it is we got to visit my boyfriend, Ken in Major Appliances, who remembered us, thanks mostly in part to the embarrassingly loving feedback I had left on the website for him. He hooked us up again, this time with a Frigidaire that will match our range and microwave (he commented, "Not to try to change your mind, but Whirlpool has the lowest repair rate on the market." I'll bet they do, because they go in such a big way that it's cheaper to buy a new one).

Unfortunately delivery couldn't be arranged until tomorrow morning (Friday), so we've been living like cavemen out of a styrofoam cooler on the counter. We bought a bag of ice and I had a glass of water that was better than Dom Perignon. Thank god we could bring all our Omaha steaks over to stow in our nice neighbors' freezer. Amazing how much not having a fridge can disrupt your life -- when we had it, I probably opened it twice a day (breakfast, lunch). Without one, I feel like I have zero food options and I just sit and starve.

Another thing's for sure -- when Ken offered us the extended warranty on the Frigidaire we jumped at it. "Six years ago I would have said no way. But today...." Today in the face of a 6-year-old unit dying neatly just outside the manufacturer's warranty (as planned, according to Old Rick; believe me, this is one point we see eye-to-eye on), you bet your sweet bippy I want the extended.

ADDENDUM: Yesterday morning I happened to glance at the TV as Brad Pitt was being interviewed on "The Today Show." Imagine my surprise when I saw our fridge in the kitchen behind him? (It has very distinctive curved handles that we in fact paid extra for). I got all excited -- "Brad Pitt has our refrigerator!" Then I realized he was actually sitting in a New Orleans house he had helped rebuild. I told Tery and she snorted. "Yeah, Brad Pitt would use our fridge in his basement for his beer buddies, maybe!"

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