Monthly Archives: May 2008

& etc.

I really will post commentary and pics about WisCon. This weekend. But first the following:

Drove an hour to Carroll, IA, today, which is the location of the nearest Toyota dealership. It turns out that the long wire I pulled out from under my car was nothing to do with the emergency brake system; it was the antenna from another car* that bounced up, gouged a hole in the flashing along the bottom of my car, wedged itself over my rear tire, and poked a hole clear through the rubber seal at the front base of the rear wheel well. The nice man at Walsh Toyota put my car up on the lift and checked for damage, then let me go, no charge. So yeah, I got a three hour road trip this morning** in exchange for a little peace of mind. I also got a little lost coming home because I decided I could do better than the official detour off Hwy 71. Turns out I couldn’t.

And speaking of peace of mind, when I came home from 4 days away, I discovered water dripping pretty aggressively from the basement ceiling, but away from any obvious sources, like the kitchen sink or the bathroom area. So I called a plumber*** and, in about 30 seconds, he determined that the floor wasn’t leaking, but rather a pinhole in a copper pipe was shooting water up, which was then dripping off the ceiling.**** So the nice plumber and his assistant fixed the leak, which took another 30 seconds, and then warned me that Storm Lake water tends to cause pinholes in copper pipe (true — I’ve seen the newspaper articles about this) and that eventually I’ll need a “full non-copper re-pipe.” As any Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan will know, this is a key term in an early episode of season six,***** which I immediately flashed on and I’m sure the plumber thought I was in shock. So he hastened to assure me it wouldn’t cost more than $1500. I should have 1) got that in writing and 2) asked if included an evil demon I could beat to death with a pipe while yelling, “No more copper re-pipe!”******

*I’m pretty sure I didn’t drive over any other cars — but there was a lot of caffeine and sugar on the road trip.

**Minus the caffeine and sugar — WisCon is over and life must, somehow, go on….

***The first repair person to come to my home since I bought it: a milestone. I feel all grown up. I feel responsible. I feel poorer by $60.

****hey, the basement is dark, all right? Also, it didn’t occur to me to use a flashlight, which turns out to be a significant plumbing tool.

*****Why yes, I am a total dork.

******I wouldn’t really beat a demon to death. I’d try talking, which is why I’m not (typical) heroine material.


Road Trip!

So, I got back Monday from Wiscon, held yearly in Madison, Wisconsin. Nita, a student and friend, and I piled into my little hatchback on Thursday, 5/22, and headed east and north. We chattered the whole way (what a surprise) and, after I warned Nita that if she opined on the likelihood of me driving into a ditch one more time I’d dump her along the side of Hwy 20, things progressed smoothly.

I’ll say two things for Wisconsin: one, it’s pretty! The landscape changed just before we crossed the Mississippi at Dubuque and continued to be hilly with lots of green interspersed with honey-colored stone. Second, Wisconsinites seem to love 3D, representational signage. The first we noticed was this car wash octopus on the way into Madison:

And, since we loved it so much, here’s a pic of pus with Nita:

On the way home, we passed (and wondered how the hell we hadn’t noticed them before) cow signage. Well, one wasn’t so much a sign as some kind of weird homage/fountain/grotto thing:

It’s the second cow, though, sign for the Crazy Cow Saloon, that really got our attention:


Now looking at this, I can just imagine the Wisconsin Cow Signage Builders having the following discussion:

Earl: Well, she’s just about done. Beehive hair-do, makeup, dress, breasts — yup, that’s one craaaazy cow!

Bob: She ain’t very realistic, is she?

Earl: That’s the whole point, Bob.

Bob: I mean, you stand a cow up like that, you’re gonna see her udder veins pop out.

Earl: Jeezus, Bob, you’re right! I can’t believe I forgot the udder veins! What kind of Wisconsin Cow Signage Builder would I be if’n I forgot the udder veins?!

And what’s a road trip without mechanical difficulties? As we were approaching the car to pile in and come home on Monday, I saw a stiff, silver wire hanging low from behind the driver’s side rear wheel. Upon inspection, it was clear that it had sheered off at two points, one just about under the driver’s seat and the other somewhere around the rear axle. I pulled it out and put it into the car, then we went back into the hotel to call a Toyota dealership. Of course, since it was Labor Day, all the Toyota service departments were closed. I talked to a salesman named Kermit (I know, so cute), who said it *could * be the wire that forms the emergency brake system (later, a call to Nita’s boyfriend, who singlehandedly rebuilt a 1981 Camero, confirmed this). Now, we could have stayed one more day in the hotel and gone to a mechanic on Tuesday, or we could take our chances and get home. We got in the car and I made sure everything worked, including the brakes — meaning I chose a time when no one was behind us, warned Nita, and slammed on the brakes.

So yes, it was a very typical road trip: strange and fun.

I’m still nursing a cold I picked up at the con (I got off lucky — others got stomach flu), so I’ll blog about the actual convention tomorrow.

I’m not getting older, I’m getting bitter…

In response to my last post, sister Carol (my sibling, not a nun) asked, “But why the gratuitous slap at omnivores’ intelligence at the end of your post? One can drink cow’s or goat’s milk and believe it to be beneficial without being at the same time a dupe of the dairy industry.”

My diatribe was aimed not at milk drinkers (I adore milk. I only finally gave it up when I heard someone refer to it as “liquid meat” — ugh — and pointed out that even the happiest of organically fed, nutured dairy cows give birth to male calves that are sold into the regular meat industry), but at those who question vegetarian/vegan diets in a manner that is calculated to show the veg-eater the error of their ways, and I only did that because I’ve recently run into several in just one or two days, at the grocery store (the clerk, no less, who shouldn’t be asking people about their dietary habits to begin with), online, and at a couple of get-togethers.

But the nosiness of the few is no excuse for lashing out at innocent blog readers. I apologize for being the kind of vegetarian I always swore I’d never be–the prickly, righteous kind.  If you ever catch me sniffing suspiciously at a cup of soup — either at a restaurant or in someone’s home — and asking “is this beef broth*” in a whinging tone of voice, whack my head.

*Yes, it probably is beef broth. The world does not have to bow to your eating habits and you should just assume that non-vegetarian people/places use meat-based broths and either shut up and eat it or not, or order something else.**

**See, I can be irritable on both sides of the coin. And it probably has more to do with the grading piled on my desk than with the issue at hand.

Al. Most. Summer.

In half an hour, I give my last final. I’ve submitted grades for the seniors (one of whom will not be graduating…). I’m taking tomorrow off to sit in the sun and weed around the perimeter of the house and read and nap and mow the front lawn. Friday, I have to come back to campus for a meeting of all new faculty senators. Oh yeah, I got elected to faculty senate for a three year term. Service to the university is never a bad thing, especially for the untenured. Also, it was a real election* with more candidates than spots and I still won. I find this amusing because there are just about as many faculty here as there were students in my high school class and I certainly wouldn’t have achieved an elected position there.

On Saturday, more goofing off, possibly more lawn mowing** and then the faculty awards dinner. Sunday — urgh. Baccalaureate and graduation, all faculty have to attend both every damn year, and with only 80 of us, they notice the absences. Monday/Tuesday, back to school to grade the rest of my finals and then a day off before….


So although I’ve been uncharacteristically silent, I’ll have plenty to talk about soon. And there’s also the fence I’m going to put in, the rock garden (less lawn to mow), a trip to Kansas…..oh how I love summer!

*well, it didn’t have any mudslinging. That I know of.

**I miss Nevada lawns, which are constantly threatening to die, not to take over and swallow the dogs whole.