Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Post Title Goes Here

Well, first off, for anyone who's interested, here is a link to the NPR story about my workplace on All Things Considered. I was surprised to find a) that I'm actually IN it, and b) that I didn't sound like a complete idiot. I apparently talk awfully fast, though. Hmm. It doesn't sound fast when I say stuff in my brain... Anyway, it's an entertaining piece over and above my 30 seconds of fame, props to Neda Ulaby for doing a great story highlighting the fun stuff we work so hard on.

My usual sense of impending doom at New Year's hasn't hit yet, I have hopes that this year will be the one where the dawn on Jan 1 does not bring a wave of soul-searching moodiness in its wake. I've certainly managed to do a lot of housecleaning (both literal and metaphorical) in my week off; perhaps stumbling downstairs to a tidy kitchen is all I ever really needed to take the edge off the New Year's funk. I'll experiment with that. In the meantime, my next door neighbors have, for some reason, acquired a dog which appears to be part beagle, part bassethound, and all misery. He has been emitting rays of concentrated sadness with every BARROOOOOO he utters, and there have been a lot of them in the last 24 hours. I walked over to visit him on my way to the butcher yesterday afternoon, and he wagged and flopped over and generally behaved like a very sweet and normal dog; then as soon as I moved on, BARROOOOOOOOO.... Maybe he's just visiting. Please lord, let him be just visiting...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Full Year's Worth of Posts!

When I logged on blogger, it informed me that Cautionary Tale has 364 posts in its archive; so with this post, I now have produced a full year's worth of blogging goodness! Of course, it's taken me since 2002 to accomplish this, because I am a lazy bastard who only posts once a week at best... Honestly, I don't know how daily bloggers do it.

Anyway, I'm currently suffused with accomplishment because I managed to extract my window-mounted air conditioning unit from my window singlehandedly today, with only minor injury and property damage. Ordinarily this is a two-person job, involving one person standing outside on a ladder holding onto the thing, while the other person raises the window sash; then both heave it up over the sill and into the house. It's highly unpleasant, as the unit is generally filthy and has random sharp bits that cut into your hands when you're not expecting it. My friends have come to dread this process, to the point that if I invite Fathead over for dinner at any point during November, she says, "You want me to help you move your air conditioner, don't you? God DAMN it." So this year I kind of forgot about it... until today, when it got down to 7°F outside and frigid air was seeping in around the edges of the unit. I decided it was time to stop being such a wuss, and see if I could bring it in by myself--I had the impression that the bulk of the weight was resting on the windowsill, so it MIGHT not fall out the window the moment I raised the sash. (And if it did fall out the window, this would be an excellent excuse for buying a new window unit come next summer--this one really is a piece of crap, it came with the house, it weighs 4000 lbs, and its little fins are all mashed up. It's brought to you by Amana, which always makes me think of my childhood spent watching The Price Is Right--I don't even know what an "Amana Radar Range" actually is, but I think it came in Avocado, Mustard, and Burnt Orange.)

So as it turns out, I was wrong about the weight. I unscrewed the screws, raised the sash--and despite my claim of a cavalier attitude toward dropping my AC unit 8' to its death, I lunged forward yelling "NOOOOOO" and grabbed onto its edges just as it was heading out and downwards. And there I sat, contemplating my next move, as a cold wind rushed past me into the house and attracted the attention of the cats, who came over to investigate. This motivated me to solve the problem sooner rather than later, and after several false starts I managed to lift one corner of the thing up and onto the interior sill. Brief struggles with the couch (which was emphatically In My Way, but had nowhere to go) and then I got the thing inside, turned around, and set down in the corner of the living room. The sill is scraped up, and I punched a small but painful hole in my left middle finger on god-knows-what-sharp-bit, but I didn't throw my back out and I did get the storm window closed. This will all be worth it when I get my next gas bill.... I hope.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tragedy in LEGO Town

My LEGO advent calendar is in full swing, and this year has been a little more surreal than last year's offerings. Today I got a LEGO Crime Scene Investigator--he's got a police uniform, a baseball cap, a camera and a slightly frowny face. What else could he be? So naturally I had to set up a crime for him to investigate... the pizza chef from December 9 has apparently met a gruesome end. Who did it? Was it the diver with the spear gun? The girl with the ice cream truck? The fireman? The turkey-leg seller? Only careful CSI work will solve this unspeakable crime.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I was minding my own business on holiday slide duty--which duty consists of yelling "YAYYYYYY!!!!" each time a pair of children arrives at the bottom of the ginormous slide, then quickly but politely booting them out of the way so they don't get kicked by the next pair down--when I got the word that I was needed back up in the exhibits department. A reporter from NPR was doing a segment on technology in museums and wanted to get audio of kids testing an activity prototype. As I was the only one with a hi-tech activity nearing completion, I got tapped. Thrilling for me, of course, since I'm a fan and supporter of all things NPR. (Though I fell off listening as much during the late Bush administration; if I left my alarm clock on Morning Edition during the last couple years I was often then too depressed to get out of bed. But I'm back on track now, and I love going through the online archives for cool stuff that I've missed on TAL and All Things. Anyway.) Turned out I need not have left off "YAAAAYYYYY" duty, as it didn't need to be recorded then and there--and as it happened, the lead time getting the program installed on a laptop and hooked to the giant touchscreen monitor we use for testing was pretty substantial. It was ready about 5 minutes before we needed it. Yeesh.

So said NPR reporter got some entertaining audio of me propelling kids through playing a crude prototype of the catapult game. I could not have asked for better test groups; I got some ragingly excited 9 year olds, both girls and boys. They loved it, and one even figured out what the activity was FOR (that's the brass ring we strive for, of course.) Not bad considering that it's pretty emphatically Not Done Yet. She also captured a good deal of me babbling about technology in museums and why it's cool in a children's museum context particularly. I have no idea what I said, but I sure hope it sounded smart...