Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm Toast! (Trying to make a right out of two wrongs)

About twenty years ago, I bought a nice electric blanket for my wife and me. I spent some bucks on it. Got the kind with a control for each side of the bed.

I use the electric blanket a lot. Heck, I like to crank up the window AC in the summer and still use the electric blanket. Yeah, baby! It's one of those quirks that make

My wife, on the other hand, almost never turns on her side of the blanket.

I'm banking on that being the case at least until tomorrow.

Now we come to the two wrongs:

Wrong One:
When we first got the electric blanket, I screwed up when I made the bed. I put her control on my side of the bed! 
I started out with my control set on 3 of 10. I was still chilly when I climbed in bed about half an hour after she went to sleep, so I turned it up to 5 of 10.
Half an hour later, still cold, I turned it to 6 of 10.

I slept unwell for an hour or so and was still chilly. So I cranked the control up to 7 of 10.
I didn't notice she had one leg sticking out of her side of the bed.

Half an hour of the fetal position, after she elbowed me away, I was still cold.
So I cranked the control thing (while cussing through chattering teeth) to 9 of 10.

Then I hit 10. Ten, the big one-oh.

She was flopped over onto her back. A fine sheen of sweat glistened on her forehead. She was still asleep, but her hair was plastered on her sweaty head.

Honest... It wasn't until morning that it occurred to me that I might have made a mistake and left myself in control of her slumbering fate.

Unfortunately, she figured out what happened. It's taken me 20 years to live that one down.

Wrong Two--time to fix the original error:

She still doesn't use the electric blanket much, but I use it all the time.
It stopped working on my side the night before last. I've been cold. I've been shivering.


So, this afternoon on my way home two things ran through my mind:

1. I won't have time until tomorrow to buy a new blanket

2. She probably won't turn on her side of the electric blanket tonight. If she does, the light on her dial will come on and she'll think she's turning up the blanket. 

Tomorrow, I'll buy a new electric blanket and we'll be fine.

Tonight, she'll either:

A. Not turn on her side of the blanket and I'll get away clean with my little game

B. She will turn on her side of the blanket and figure the whole blanket has stopped working.

C. I'll get an elbow to the ribs and curl up with a cat on the couch.

Lord, please... Let it be "A".

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Found the Pen I Thought I'd Never See Again

My wife knows I like fine pens. I have lousy handwriting, but that doesn't mean I have to settle for one of those stick pens or click pens that make the rounds, often with tooth marks on the end--sometimes from many, many mouths.

      About twenty years ago, she spent some of her hard earned money on a Cross pen and pencil set. They were emerald green, with gold plated clips. They weren't too heavy, or too light. They felt good in my hand and looked good. I lost the pen, and although I missed it, I received a Mont Blanc rollerball pen shortly after that as a recognition for a job well done. The Mont Blanc won a little piece of my heart...until I got tired of paying $14.99 a week for re-fills. They're real proud of those refills!   

   Cross stopped making that particular line of pens and pencils in the 1990's. Of the two--the pen and pencil set, or the wife--I would much rather still have my wife by my side than the pen in my hand. Lucky for me, she's still here!

    Still... I want both. The trouble is, Cross didn't make that particular set for very long and they don't make that one anymore. By the time I decided to seek replacements for the set I lost, they were out of production. I thought I had lost the opportunity. I let the idea go.

   Now there's eBay. I didn't trust eBay when it was just an auction site. I don't know about you, but when I want to buy something, I want to buy it. I don't want to stay close to my computer and try to beat someone else. I don't want to compete for my stuff.

   When I shop eBay, which I do a lot these days, I go for the "buy it now" option.

   The other night I was thinking about my lost pen and pencil. I wasn't really interested in replacing the Cross ballpoint... I'm a fountain pen guy now. I'm assembling a collection of cheap, Chinese fountain pens. Fountain pens are a left-hander's friend. The ink soaks into the paper and doesn't smear when I write. The nib--the point that delivers the ink--makes a nice sound as it rides over the paper. It doesn't slip like a ballpoint, and that improves my handwriting marginally.

   So, with a little time to kill, I stared pecking around eBay. I searched for "Cross Fountain Pen" just to see if I could find one in my price range.

   ...And there it was! Not only did I find a NOS (New, old stock) Cross fountain pen, I found it in the style and color of my long-lost pen/pencil set. The seller has them in green, burgundy, blue, and black. The price is right for me, too. It's a nice pen, the kind you don't let other people borrow or use. I've learned my lesson on that one, the hard way. I like a nice pen, and this one fits the bill: gold plated appointments, and an ink converter included so I can fill it from a bottle of ink. I think I'll collect all four colors.

   I'm not afraid I'll lose it, but I wonder how long it will take me to remember to unscrew the cap rather than just yank it off the end. The good news is that it's a quality pen, and I'm pretty sure the worse that will happen if I forget to unscrew the cap is that I'll transfer it from one hand to the other while looking like an idiot. I can handle that. It's good for a middle aged man to look like an idiot from time to time...

  ...It keeps him humble and prepares him for old age!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'm Starting to Enjoy Ordering On-line

I like to buy local products and shop in locally owned establishments whenever possible.
   Sometimes that's not possible, and I'm faced with a choice of driving to a bigger city (the one I live in has a population of under 3,000) to shop around in the hopes of finding what I want. Or I can buy online. With the price of gas... I buy a lot online.
     I'm not the only man who has developed a strange hobby, and I have a budding collection of fountain pens and mechanical watches. I've extolled the virtues (according to me) of each in past posts and I won't dwell on those this time.
   I'm starting to enjoy ordering things online. I don't particularly care which site I use to place my order. I do wish I could find American products I could afford when it comes to mechanical watches and fountain pens, and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to do that soon. Call it a goal of mine.
   The fountain pen and the watch pictured here are items I found on eBay, and they're coming to me from Shanghai.

What's Exciting About Buying Online?

   Some of you are old enough to remember "mail order", and it would be silly to say that ordering online is much different. It's slightly faster to order online than it is to use mail order. I don't have to wait for the mail to carry my order to the seller. I have my PayPal and checking accounts linked, so the ordering process is pretty much instant.
   You know what I really like? Tracking! It's cool, at least to me. I get a link and I can watch--in incredibly slow motion, timed with a calendar--the source of my anticipation.
   Computers and automation keep me updated far better than any person from any company I ordered anything from by mail. I know, for instance, that the pen pictured above is on a truck in Allen Park, MI and will arrive at my local post office around 6:00 AM tomorrow. By noon tomorrow I'll open the envelope, pull out the pen, and proceed to wash the nib and fill it with ink.
   I think I'll break in my new acquisition by writing a chapter in Sexton Retribution by hand. That'll be cool. The pen is a Hero fountain pen made in China at a factory that used to be owned by Parker, a factory that was shuttered when Chairman Mao covered the country in communism, and was re-opened a while back. It's stainless steel and cost me a whopping $4.99, shipping included. If it's like the other Hero pen I bought, it will work great. The watch is an automatic (self-winding) skeleton watch, made of stainless steel, and cost me a whopping $16.99, also including shipping.
   I'll be able to track that shipment around the world, too. I get a kick out of reading the updates and imagining my little purchase on planes, trucks, and conveyor belts on its way to me.
   Strange, the things we find exciting, isn't it? I like my little collection of pens and watches. It amuses my wife to see me amused with such things. She can't complain, though...she's a scrapbooker.
   That's it's own illness, and it's not that different from a man with a drawer full of fountain pens and watches.