Concerning the inclement weather that has swept across much of the USA in recent days, I cannot help feeling a bit smug. This satellite photo shows the sheer size of the storm, but you'll notice Florida, down in the bottom right, clear and unaffected. Pass me another tee-shirt, m'dear; I'm off for a stroll in the sunshine!
Here’s something interesting. Well, maybe. We got a thingy in the mail from our local utility company. I knew the bill wasn’t due yet, so I when I saw the envelope I assumes they were trying to sell us something, or disseminate utility company propaganda or some such. In fact it was a so-called “Home Energy Report” and it compared out use of electricity to that of our neighbours, which they define as “up to 100 occupied apartments or condos” and average of 0.00 miles from us. There are quite a lot to chose from in a radius of 0.50 miles, for example, but 0.00 miles seems pretty close. Anyway, UI suppose they know what they are talking about.
Or do they? I was all ready to look at their chart and be alarmed at our apparent profligate use of “electrickery” as Catweazel used to call it (don’t worry if you don’t know who that is – I just put that in for my sister), when I noticed something. This is what they sent.
According to this, we are positively extravagant with electricity. July and August, the air-conditioning I suppose. Yes, on the basis if this, we should cut down… But wait!! We also, it seems, used quite a lot from December to January. Look how the graph slopes upwards. That’s strange, considering that from 12 December to 5 January we weren’t here. We were in England and there was no one in the house except our three cats. The only power used were a couple of lights on time switches, the central heating ready to kick in if the temperature fell below 65° and the refrigerator stayed on. That was it. We had a pet sitter visit to feed the cats and empty their litter tray while we were gone, but I doubt that she did more than switch on a few lights for 15 minutes while she visited. No one used the really heavy users of electricity – dishwasher, washing machine, toaster, electric kettle, microwave – while we were gone, and I am sure we didn’t have neighbours breaking into our place to make use my wife’s hair dryer. So, what’s occurring, GRU? Is this a genuine report, or just a lot of porkie pies (Don’t worry if you don’t understand that last sentence either. I used that term because it’s the Brit in me!)? .
Well now, here’s a little mystery that maybe someone can solve for me. We went away for six days. Very nice. We drove up to South Carolina to visit my MIL. We were away for five nights. Not a very long time, you’ll agree I’m sure. So why, I am wondering, was there a huge disparity between the amount of luggage that I took to see me through those five days and what my wife took. I managed to get everything I needed to wear, plus a pair of flip flops, my camera and my sponge bag, into one small bag that normally I use as a carry-on when I travel by air. I am a great believer in traveling light.
My wife, on the other hand, needed four bags. I have absolutely no idea why. It’s not as though we had to change our clothes several times a day. I remonstrated with her when we left home and I saw all her bags lined up on the bedroom floor, but I was informed, with a touch of asperity, that I simply did not understand. Probably I don’t. I don’t even understand what it is that I don’t understand.
And something that came as a bit of a surprise. For some people it is even sad, but because I am so far removed from the people involved, it is merely interesting. In the mid-1990s I worked for a big firm of worldwide management consultants. Their head office was in Florida; I was in charge of marketing in the London office, though I did visit the Florida office. In fact that was my very first visit to Florida, little suspecting that one day I’d end up living there. The CEO, who had started the firm from nothing twenty years before and was now a millionaire several times over, was in his early sixties, had a very hands on approach, sported a young blonde wife and usually wore a toupee that fooled no one. I met him briefly only once, but I saw him many times in training videos and pictures of him , often with is wife, were plastered all over the company’s publicity material. I have to say I did not enjoy the job, and when they decided to close several offices across Europe and to run European operations from their office in Dublin, I was not sad at all.
Cut to a few months ago. I had never given that company a second thought since the day I received my final pay cheque from them, but for some reason the name came to mind and I wondered if they were still in existence, so I used good old Google to see what I could find. What I did find was a bit of a shock. Apparently, everything in the garden had not been lovely. The company did still exist, in a rather truncated form, but some years ago had gone bankrupt. The CEO was dead. A few months before I Googled, his wife had divorced him and had been awarded a very generous, maybe even unfairly generous, settlement. Unfair or not, it had prompted this man to go sit in his gazebo late one night, phone a local radio station to rant and complain about the inequities of Florida divorce laws and (I’m not sure if he was still on the phone or not) to blow his brains out.
The other day, my wife and I were talking about various websites and she used a very descriptive term for sites that grab you and keep you reading them for hours – rabbit holes. Maybe it’s a long established expression to describe sites like that, but it was the first time I had heard it. I knew just what she meant. There are some sites where I have spent many hours of my life reading, clicking, reading more, for hours on end. In particular, I can think of YouTube, Wikipedia, IMDB, Etiquette Hell. Do you have any rabbit holes? If so, what are they? . .
I was sent one of those A - Z thingies. I have taken a rather free-handed attitude to answering it!
A - Age: 21
B - Bed size: Sort of rectangular, with sheets and blankets and things.
C - Chore you hate: de-knelging the upper flunes
D - Dog's name: I don't have a dog
E - Essential start your day item: coffee
F - Favorite color: blue
G - Gold or Silver: Gold, I suppose. I don't own much of either.
H - Height: 6' 2"
I - Instruments you play: Clarinet, ukulele
J - Job title: Dilettante, poseur
K - Kid(s): Emma
L - Living arrangements: Apartment
M - Mom's name:
N - Nicknames: My wife has one for me. If I told you what it is I'd have
to kill you. My school nicknames are lost in the mists of time
O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: Only one, when I was 5.
Suspected appendicitis. False alarm.
P - Pet Peeve(s): People talking on mobile phones whilst driving,
texting even worse. (I copied this from Taru as I completely agree with
her) plus talking on mobile while sitting on a bus. Also why the heck
they need to talk so loud then? I don't want to know about their
Q - Quote from a movie: He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty
R - Right or left handed: Right
S - Siblings: Sarah
T - Time you wake up: Variable. This morning it was 7.00am
U - Underwear: What about it?
V - Vegetable you dislike: Almost all of them
W - Workout style: Walking, swimming
X - X-rays you've had: Dental, chest, left knee
Y - Yesterday's best moment: Dr Who
Z - Zoo favorite:
I'm not going to tag anyone. Have a go if you like!
I was in a doctor’s waiting room the other day, using it in a completely correct manner, because I was waiting. My wife was in for a routine check-up and I was passing the time reading my book in the, thankfully, silent room (no blaring CNN or Fox News or piped music, I’m glad to say). After a while, a sales rep for one of the pharmaceutical companies arrived, to speak to one of the doctors.. I was not trying to eavesdrop but in the silent room I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.
The rep started with “Hi, how’re you doin’?” to which the doctor replied “I’m getting there!” And for some reason they both followed this comment with hearty guffaws. Then the rep said “Well, that’s progress.” and they both laughed again.
Doctor: Is it Friday yet? (laughter from both) Rep: Not even close. It’s Tuesday! (guffaws) Doctor: God, not even halfway there! (chuckle chuckle) Rep: Well, what’re ya gonna do? (ha ha ha) Doctor: The weeks get slower and slower. (laughter) Rep: Tell me about it. (almost falling about with laughter)
Then they got on to the actually reason for the visit, discussing drug supplies, ordering new batches and handing overt a few free samples.
I was interested how they had felt obliged to preface their business with that little bit of mindless small talk. They weren’t telling each other anything, and even though they had pretended to laugh at each other’s comments, there was nothing the remotest bit funny about what either of them had said. It was as though this bit of drivel was some sort of ritual that had to be gone through as they positioned themselves for the main business of the day, rather like a mating dance. Did they really need a buffer between meeting and doing business? Would the ordering and selling have gone any different if they had got straight down to it? I suspect not.
Then a few days later I was in my local Starbucks, and unusually there was a queue at the counter. As we were waiting to be served, the man ahead of me turned and asked me “Did you watch the Olympics yesterday?” I took this to be a reference to something or other happening somewhere in the vicinity of Vancouver and I answered truthfully “No, not really. I don’t like sports.” The odd thing was, he seemed unable to process this bit of information.
Him: See the hockey game? Me: No. Like I say, I don’t like sports. Him: What about football? Who’s your team? Me: Well, I don’t really have one. I don’t like sports. Him: You been to a Gator game? Me: No, I don’t like sports. Him: You should go. They’re great.
By now he had reached the front of the queue and placed his order so our little chat ended. Once I had my coffee and was seated, I reflected for a moment no what had happened. Leaving aside the assumption that everyone lies sport, I wondered why that conversation had taken place. To be friendly? Yes, maybe, but we met briefly as total strangers and as total strangers we parted company. I think it was probably chat for its own sake. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so human society abhors silence. .