Friday, January 12, 2007
Yesterday was another harrowing adventure into housework, though this one had a decidedly Irish bent to it. In Los Angeles, people don't need their central heating systems very often - maybe 30 or 40 days a year or so. Here, you will turn into a bloggercicle if you don't rush from bed to heat switch in the morning and flick on the radiators.
Yes, I just typed radiators. You haven't transported back in time to 1944. Its Ireland. One of the little quirks about radiators (at least the ones I have) is bleeding them. To bleed a radiator you take a little key and twist it in a little hole at the side. air escapes and hot water fills the radiator to warm the room. Simple!
Yesterday I went to bleed the radiator upstairs. Everything was going swell: radiator key, check. air escaping, check. water filling radiator, check. Then the water got to the top. I twisted the key and nothing happened. a little water trickled out and ran down the side of the radiator. I gave the key a little more elbow. Nothing. Water began to flow a little more aggressively out of the hole and it was steaming. I jammed the key in and twisted with all my might. Nothing. Hot water began to SHOOT out of the little hole in the side of the radiator and into the rich brocade curtain tied by the window. I ran for a towel.
So I tried to stuff a piece of the towel into the hole to quell the flow of molten water. No luck. Then I thought "Why don't I try turning off the heat?" and ran down to the master control switch. I jammed the switch to the off position and jammed back upstairs. The towel I had covered the hole with was now soaked and dripping into a growing dark puddle on the carpet. I looked underneath...
it was a still Lilliputian fire hose. The window had steamed up and I was wondering if I should think about summoning the fire brigade (thats really what they call it here!) I noticed that there was a valve at the lower end of the radiator. Aha! I could shut the water off! I dove for the valve. Turn turn turn turn turn turn... NOTHING! I began to weep desperately and swear as many swears as I could think of as my desperate eyes searched for something that might tame the hydro-hell I was entangled in. (I realize my prose in this paragraph has crossed the line of good taste and writing, but at least you got a Swift reference)
My gaze settled on a little white speck on the floor (I wasn't wearing my contacts or glasses) what the heck... It was the screw that plugged the valve! I grabbed it and wrapped a towel around my hand and shoved it into the gush. It worked.
So I had a big mess to clean up. Somehow I managed it without injury to me, my children, my home or my psyche.
Stories like this always catch my attention because of how often anomalies like this occur with autism (if you are a new reader welcome! I have a son with autism, I play poker and hate housework!). Many people with autism also struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, bi-polar disorder and anxiety. As you may have read, there are some amazing autistic savants who can tell you what day of the week July 3, 2035 will fall on (without Google) or tell you what the Times headline was for any day for the last 100 years. Savants make up a tiny minority of the autistic population, and are usually very debilitated by their condition.
So this lady knows that Elvis died on August 16, 1977. But she also knows that the next day the stock market dipped 10 points. She can rattle off trivia that you didn't even know was trivial! The difference in this woman is that, besides a mild case of OCD, she is a well ajusted member of society. She is married with kids and has a steady job. She can drive and cook and do all the things any other mom does - except forget.
I told fhwrdh about this lady and we had an "isn't that amazing" moment, when I suddenly realized something about the article that stuck in my head. The neurologist who was stumped by her condition explained that she was "wired differently". I wondered aloud to my husband if the doctor really thought that the brain was that much like a computer. He replied that yes the brain is a lot like a computer with storage and data retrieval and electricity. So I got to wondering: do memories take up space? Do they have mass and weight and a size?
I put forth the theory that memories don't take up space - that maybe they are chemical mixtures and each subtle change changes what you remember. Fh countered that the formula would take up space. You guys are smart, what do you think?
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Today I was reading through my RSS feeds when I came across a post that has been a blogging/op ed staple since Roman times: New Years Diet tips. You know what they usually say: Drink 22 glasses of water every day, don't forget breakfast, carbs are baaaaad. This list particularly caught my eye because I hated almost every tip. Here it is, with my notes in bold:
1. Leave behind three or four bites of your meal. Research shows that people usually eat everything they're served, even if they're not hungry. This is the one tip I agree with.
2. Skin your chicken after cooking it. You'll retain moisture yet still strip away 148 calories and 13 grams of fat. Wha? Remove the BEST PART? Next you'll be telling me to discard my Oreo centers or scrape the chocolate off my Snickers.
3. Eat your sandwiches and burgers open-faced, with one slice of bread instead of two. And how, pray tell, am I supposed to HOLD my sandwiches and burgers? When the Earl of Sandwich invented the bread-around-filling thing, he did it so he could eat with one hand while riding a horse. You want me to get off my horse in the middle of a fox hunt to eat my open-face diet sandwich and possible get mayo on my Ralph Lauren Red Hunting Coat and White Pants that make my ass look awesome? I think not!
4. Trade in your chocolate bar (235 calories) for a glass of light chocolate soy milk (120 calories). Silk chocolate soy milk is yummy and its great for a post workout drink! Soy milk is for... for... damn, soy milk is so nasty I don't even KNOW who its for. And while we are discussing trading a chocolate bar for some soy milk, lets make some other great trades: how about a date with George Clooney for a date with Pauly Shore! Perhaps Ferrari for a Kia! weeeeeeeee!
5. Use butter-flavored nonstick spray, not a tablespoon of margarine or butter, to make grilled-cheese sandwiches and eggs. I personally assembled a round table of chefs and asked them if you should use butter-flavored nonstick spray, and all but one said no. The one that said you should use the butter spray had a soy milk mustache and admitted to working at a vegan raw food restaurant. The other chefs braised him in some truffle butter and served him on a bed of rocket.
6. Order a white-wine spritzer (80 calories) instead of a mixed drink (about 180 calories). Only whores drink white-wine spritzers.
7. Hold the cheese, please. A single 1-ounce slice of cheddar has 113 calories. On salad and pasta, sprinkle on one tablespoon of grated part-skim mozzarella (36 calories). Seriously? Why would you do that and add NO FLAVOR when you could add a tablespoon of Parmesan for 27 calories or Romano for 19 calories? Whoever wrote this needs to go back to eating school. Counting school too.
8. Ditch the maple syrup and top your pancakes and waffles with a dusting of confectioner's sugar and cinnamon or a tablespoon of low-sugar jam. Skip the butter entirely and cut even more calories. SCREW YOU DUDE AND GET THE HELL AWAY FROM MY SYRUP.
9. Top salads with a half cup of crunchy celery instead of a quarter cup of croutons. Same crunch effect but without the carbs! Carbs are good. They feed your brain so you can do things like think. When you think, you can come to conclusions. Conclusions like: Celery is a yucky replacement for croutons. You know what is a good replacement for croutons? Croutons! They have grain and fiber! Fiber makes you poop! Pooping keeps you healthy and happy. Eat your damn croutons.
10. Make substitutions at brunch: poached eggs instead of fried, lean Canadian bacon rather than regular bacon, or fruit salad in place of home fries. Better yet, eat brunch only once in a while. Make it a treat and eat what you want.
Happy Hammer ∞ Year!