Before going to bed on Sunday night, I set the alarm clock for 6:40. (On the weekends, I tend to set it for a little later, so on Sunday I have to set it back to my weekday schedule.)

I woke up this morning and after a few moments started wondering if I’d somehow awoken before the alarm. It’s been known to happen, but given how late it was by the time I actually fell asleep (around 3:30 or 4:00), that didn’t seem too likely.

So I pried myself out of bed and looked at the clock.


Oh crap.

(Actually, the phrase that went through my mind was not “oh crap”, but it did contain the same number of letters .)

The indicator showed that the alarm was definitely set. Had I slept through it? (This has also been known to happen, particularly when I’ve had trouble falling asleep the night before.)

For whatever reason, I pushed the button to check what time the alarm was set to go off.

It was set for 6:40 alright. But here’s the interesting part: it turns out there are two 6:40s in the day, and they’re not equivalent.

Who knew?

First Bloom

Back in the spring, I made an attempt at setting up a fountain in the new flower bed. I sank a resin half-barrel partway into the ground and (after a brief delay caused by the realization that untreated, resin will let water seep through) set up a solar powered fountain.
The fountain was pretty cool in concept, but it tended to clog pretty easily. Like three times in a single day. (I quit trying after a couple hours.)
So, plan B. I went to a garden center a couple weeks ago and bought a water lily. Most things in the flower beds aren’t all that interesting until the second or third year, so I wasn’t expecting much. But when I came home on Tuesday so the air conditioner could be repaired, I spotted this bit of beauty.
A single water lily blossom, floating in the half-barrel.
The flower closed up a few minutes later, so I’m glad I had the phone with me. After this weekend’s rains, there’s now another inch of water in the barrel and the bloom’s stalk hasn’t stretched back to the surface quite yet. But in the meantime, there’s now another bud I hope will bloom sometime this week.
Like I said, most things in the flower beds aren’t all that interesting until the second or third year. So next summer, this should be pretty spectacular!

Mr. Right.

I had a doctor’s appointment this past Thursday. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a routine checkup. During the course of things, the doctor asked me when I’d last had a tetanus shot.

I don’t like getting shots. They hurt, and things that hurt become things you avoid. This is why I didn’t play with the cigarette lighter in my parents’ car a second time.

So I briefly considered answering with a vagary about knowing I’d had a tetanus shot, but not being certain of the exact date. And since even if it has been a while, a doctor can’t compel you to take an injection, I also momentarily considered declining.

Tetanus is a infection of the central nervous system caused by bacteria entering through an open wound. The mechanism of infection which people most commonly talk about seems to be “stepping on a rusty nail,” but really, any injury resulting in an open wound will suffice.

Tetanus can lead to lockjaw, a condition which just sounds nasty. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never run across a formal definition of the condition, but I’ve always imagined it to mean that you can’t open your mouth to eat, drink, or speak. And although my friends might appreciate a respite from my wisecracks, being unable to communicate always leaves me frustrated.

Of course I consented to the tetanus shot.

If you were to ask me what the most likely injection site would be for a given treatment, I’d almost certainly get it wrong.

About 16 years ago, I spent six months dating a girl who owned a cat. I’m allergic to cats. Or rather, I’m very allergic to cats. But I liked this girl, so I went to the doctor to see about getting my allergies treated. After a short consultation, the doctor said he would send a nurse in to give me an allergy shot and that would take care of the problem.

A few minutes later, the nurse came in. As I’ve said before, I’m not wild about shots, but I liked that girl. Plus, the nurse was a woman about my age, and not at all unattractive. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? So I rolled up my sleeve.

That’s when she explained that allergy shots don’t go in your arm. They go elsewhere and yes, I would have to lower my pants in the back.
I looked the nurse right in the eye and asked, “Does your mother know you do this?” Turns out her mother was also a nurse.

The girl with the cat broke up with me a month later.

I was a bit apprehensive about the tetanus shot. I was pretty sure the discomfort of the injection would be short-lived, but what I’ve failed to mention until now is that the doctor in question was not just a doctor, she was also a woman.

Luckily, before I could learn whether her mother was also a doctor, much less begin to lower anything, she explained that the tetanus shot would be injected into my upper arm (Whew!) and then asked if I had a preference which one.

I’m right-handed. I write with my right hand, pick up the phone with my right hand (and move it to the left in case I need to write something), and just generally use my right hand for quite a number of tasks. I’ve been known to go through an entire meal holding the fork with my left hand, but I mainly do that just to see who notices. (Did you know that most Americans repeatedly switch the fork between their two hands during a meal? This is an almost uniquely American trait.)

So the decision was to get the injection in the upper part of my left arm. The doctor warned me that it would be sore the next day, but the injection itself was about as painless as it could be.

When I woke on Friday morning, my upper left arm was a little sore. It wasn’t too bad though and really only bothered me when I reached for things. Getting ready to take Wylie out for his morning walk, I quickly realized I should use my right hand to get the leash out of the closet and that would be the end of my discomfort for the day.


Taking a shower before leaving for work, I reflexively reached for the shampoo using my left hand. Getting in the car, I used my left hand to put my lunch bag in the passenger seat. And over the course of the workday, I was frankly astonished by how often I was reaching up to get things out of the desk’s overhead compartment. A compartment which, as you’ve doubtless guessed, was to my left.

Z. and I were planning to go kayaking this morning, or as I call it, “Falling out of boats.” Z. says it’s pretty hard to fall out of a kayak and promised that if I did somehow manage to fall out, she wouldn’t laugh. Not much anyhow. (With all the styrofoam they pack into the bow and stern, it’s also supposed to be pretty hard to sink a canoe. But I’ve done it.)

We ended up canceling those plans because the weather forecast was calling for rain due to Hurricane Bill spinning Northward. If we hadn’t, the authorities would have needed to evacuate the area due to record rains causing even the high grounds to flood. Instead, it’s quite bright out.

It’s just as well though, my left arm is still sore and anytime I use it to reach for anything, I’m promptly reminded about the tetanus shot.
As a consequence of the tetanus shot, now more than ever, I don’t qualify to use “Lefty” as a nickname. So gather up your unattached female friends and let know: I’m Mr. Right.

Happy New Year!

Today is August 21. According to Weatherbug, today’s high temperature was 87 degrees. (That’s because it was overcast. The day the air conditioner broke, the high was around 98.)
By my reckoning, there are 132 days left in the year (slightly more than 1/3 of it). Going by the calendar, there are another 30 days remaining until the official end of summer, and you still have 126 shopping days left before Christmas.
In short, we are nowhere near the end of the year.
And yet, today’s mail included a 2010 calendar.
Good grief!


The universe is made up of opposites. Complementary pairs.

  • Every electron with a negative charge is matched by a proton with a positive one.
  • Every sunrise has a sunset.
  • Whatever goes up eventually comes back down.
  • Every left has a right, particularly in New Jersey.*
  • Every top has a matching bottom**.

In January, the furnace stopped working.
In August, it’s the air conditioner.

* In the case of socks, lost in the laundry doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
** They might not be clean at the same time, but that’s balance too.

One More Straw

Starting in September, T-Mobile is introducing a new fee. If you receive a printed bill, you’ll be assessed a fee of $1.50 per month. The only way to avoid the fee is to switch to electronic payment.
They’re trying to “greenwash” the new fee by claiming that it’s supposed to benefit the environment by reducing the use of paper, fuel, etc. But the money doesn’t go to any environmental protection effort, it just goes to T-Mobile’s bottom line. Funny how that works.
Also funny is how when you have electronic payments automatically being transferred out of your account, you probably won’t notice if the amount increases again at some point down the road due to an “electronic payment fee” or an “executive compensation fee” or a “because we felt like it fee.”
As a T-Mobile customer, I already have to put up with:

  • Frequent dropped calls.
  • Lousy coverage (T-Mobile is the only provider where I’ve ever been unable to obtain a signal while on an Interstate).
  • Poor broadband coverage (They claim my house is in a “good” – as opposed to “excellent” area for 3G coverage. In reality, I almost always get a slower Edge connection.)
  • Lack of integration with emergency services (more on that in a future post).

And now I have to pay more for the lousy service?
That cracking sound you hear is the camel’s back.

More Phone Phun

As of about two weeks ago, I now have my very own Google Voice phone number. The coolest thing about this is that I can give people a single phone number and it’ll ring all my phones at once. Much easier than telling them, “well from 9 to 5 I’ll be at my work number, unless I go to lunch, in which case you can call me on my cell. But after 5 you should call this other number all together.”
As a bonus, I can also set things up so for instance if Dave calls me, the call will go straight to voice mail with a message explaining, “I can’t come to the phone right now, I have to take care of my dog.” (Select others will instead hear about the toasters.)
One other cool thing is that I can put a button on a web site and anyone in the US can call me without having to pay any sort of long distance charges. Just whatever your phone company would charge for a standard incoming call.
(Dunno how long I’ll leave this here, but for a few days anyhow so friends can play with it. If Jennifer Aniston chooses to call, that would be cool too.)
(Update: I removed it on September 5. Jen will just have to call my regular number.)
I’m a little uncertain how I feel about Google knowing my phone habits, but it’s an interesting experiment.

Most Entertaining Spam

A fair amount of spam shows up in the Dividing by Zero comment area. Most of it’s automatically detected and I don’t have to do anything more than confirm that it should be deleted.
It used to be that a lot of the spam was filled with links to offshore pharmacies, porn sites, or both (the links were quite blatant about their content). More recently, a lot of them have been plain text saying how wonderful the site is and “thank you for the information about this matter” (that last one’s verbatim) and then the submitter would include a link back to their “personal site” which was undoubtedly a pharmacy, porn, or similar site. Every so often though, a spam comes in where I just can’t help but laugh at how absurd it is.
About a week ago, I posted about how you can buy milk and other interesting items on Amazon. A day or two later, I received a spam email with a link to a Russian web site.

So everyone knows that it would seriously hurt if you did get shot right there but your not exactly going to have a serious chance of getting killed so itโ€™s much more sensible to have a bullet proof vest rather than pants, plus you may have to put something pretty heavy there so it might way you down a bit ๐Ÿ˜›

It has nothing to do with the “Got Milk?” post, but hands down, it’s the funniest spam I’ve ever received.


Pretty much everything I remember from my high school chemistry class can be summed up in two paragraphs:
An atom can’t have more than eight electrons at a single energy state. Sharing electrons (up to eight of them) is what allows groups of atoms to form molecules. Or maybe it’s only six electrons. That gives oxygen (which has eight of them) two “extras” that it can share with passing hydrogen atoms, thus allowing water to stay stuck together, so yeah, it’s probably six. (Either way, when you consider how long it’s been since that chemistry class, I’m amazed I remember that much detail.)
Also, if you plan to mix sodium and water, you should wear safety glasses. Ditto for mixing potassium and water. Oil and water don’t mix at all, but if you mix oil and vinegar you end up with salad dressing. (That’s what I’m told anyhow; I usually go for honey mustard instead.)