Category — Manual labor

Juicing–not for sissys

I just read that 150 million hot dogs are consumed on the 4th of July.  I, however, did not partake of this tradition today.

While the rest of you Americans were chomping on dogs and hamburgers and downing kegs of beer, I was planted in front of the computer working away.

Long about lunch time, I had this bright idea to “juice” my lunch.  Afterall, I had purchased a humongous bag of spinach, bell peppers and celery from Costco a few days ago.  I figure if I also threw in some tomatoes, I’d come pretty close to making my own V-8.   Throw in some freshly squeezed limes and some Tabasco, and I’d come pretty close to a Virgin Mary.  Genius.

That’s what it looks like when I channel my inner Martha Stewart.

So lemme ask you.  Have you every tried to juice vegetables?

If you don’t have a really good juicer, you might as well just stick your head into a garbage disposal.  The mess and splatter that’s created will make you cry.   If you do have a really good juicer  (I do!) then be prepared to spend at least 15 minutes on disassembly, cleanup, and counter wipe down.

If you ask me, I think this is the real reason you lose weight when you juice.  The calories you expend during the clean up is equivalent to a power session with a personal trainer.

You also have a 50/50 shot of visiting the ER afterwards.  Those blades are like piranha teeth.  Think about it.  Those puppies liquify carrots.  Get my point?

Okay, so three cups of spinach, four celery stalks, two tomatoes and a cup of carrots later, I end up with this:

I wonder what this is going to do to my gastrointestinal tract.

Looks like someone whipped up some grass clippings, right?   I carefully taste it hoping it doesn’t make me wretch.

Hmm.  Not bad.  I then reach for the limes, the Tabasco and a dash of sea salt and pepper.  It doesn’t change the color any, but kicks the taste from okay, to sort of delicious.

So, I gulp down half a pitcher of this stuff all the while going through the entire clean up process.

By the time this whole fandango is done, by kitchen is clean and I am full.

Wait.  I’m going to repeat that.  I’m full on vegetable juice.  No bread.  No meat.    And I wasn’t being held hostage.

Freakin’ miracle.

July 4, 2012   Comments Off on Juicing–not for sissys

I am channeling a 24 year old male

I have a secret I want to share.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve been channeling a 24-year-old male for the past decade.

How do I know?

Because many of my purchasing decisions—particularly those involving consumer electronics—are more in line with that demographic vs. my official baby boomer status.

Plus, something happened a few weeks ago, which I think provides absolute proof.

As a self employed person,  my most important tool is my computer.  A few years ago, I invested in a high-end, custom-built gaming machine.  (See what I mean?)  I had no interest in playing a single game on it, but I did want the power that this bad boy could offer me.  (I like to work with a zillion files open so that I can multitask.   For example having 40 browser windows open simultaneously is normal for me.)

Because of the fast processor and three hard drives (yeah, three…that’s how I roll), controlling the temperature inside the case is critical.  So, in addition to a fan, the system is liquid cooled.  (A pump runs non-conductive blue coolant through flexible coils.)

But here’s the thing.  Every nine months or so, the coolant needs to be topped up.   Hasn’t been a problem up until now because I had a great tech who makes house calls.

Noticing that the coolant was at a dangerously low level, I called him.  His response was devastating.  He had moved out of state.

I was officially screwed.

I tried calling other computer techs in the Chicago area, but no one seemed to have any experience with liquid cooled systems.  Then suddenly my situation went from bad to worse.

My computer started crashing and wouldn’t reboot.  I knew I had a thermal situation on my hands.

I decided that I was going to try to fix it myself.  (Again, that’s the 24-year old male talking.)

Cracking open the case was the easy part.  Trying to access the coolant reservoir that was shoved on top of the Blu-Ray burner was a whole other story.  Regardless of how hard I tried, there was a metal piece at the top of the case that would not allow me to remove the reservoir.

This is the belly of the beast.

I put everything back in place and waited until the next day to call the manufacturer.  A helpful tech on the other end told me that I would have to first remove the top DVD drive (there are two DVD burners), which would then allow the reservoir to drop down.

Okie dokie.  One little problem though.  How the hell do you remove a DVD drive?!

That’s when the 24-year old I’m channeling suggested I check You Tube. (Or maybe I thought of that myself.  Who can be sure.)  There I found several tutorials.  Apparently, DVD drives are secured via more than one way.

Lucky me.

So, once again, armed with my power screw driver, I disconnect all of the cables, remove the power source and ground myself by touching an unpainted surface (by now you should be seriously impressed).

Now I’m ready to remove the DVD drive.  I unplug the power and data cords on the back of the DVD player and then use the power driver to remove the screws holding it in place.  I carefully push on the back of the player forcing it out of the front on the machine.

OMG….did I just seriously remove a Blu-Ray player/burner?!!!

I then reached up and held the coolant reservoir in place, while I removed the screws holding it in place.  With that accomplished, I was then able to shimmy it out of its crammed position.

OMG….I am now holding the impossible-to-get-to coolant reservoir in my hands. I’m positively giddy.  I balance it on top of a tall FedEx box, because I need to have my hands free in order to add the coolant.

However, the problem is that if the coolant isn’t added carefully via the small hole at the top of the reservoir, then it will end up spilling all over the internal components, including the motherboard.

This would redefine the term “seriously fucked.”

I had thought of this previously so after my trip to the computer store to pick up the coolant, I stopped by Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up a condiment bottle.  (The kind with a tapered dispensing closure.)

I filled a third of the bottle with the coolant which would allow me to tip it over quickly and insert it into the reservoir without spilling.  (The 24-year old male did not come up with that idea.  That was female baby boomer all the way.)

I refilled the condiment bottle a couple of times, until  all of the coils and the reservoir were completely full.

It was then time to reverse the whole process and reinsert the guts back into the computer.  It took a few minutes to get the reservoir back into its crammed spot.  But after that, all of the other components, plugs, doors, popped into place fairly quickly.

As I plugged in all of the cables and inserted the power supply, I said a little prayer.  After all, I just performed surgery on a serious piece of hardware.  Without chipping my French manicure, I might add.

I pressed the “on” button on the front of my machine.  I sat back waiting to see what would happen.  A few seconds later, I saw the Windows logo signaling that my machine was rebooting.

This baby boomer heard choirs of angels.  The 24-year old male just fist pumped.

And that folks, is a narrative of one of the proudest moments of my life.  And, of course, proof that I am channeling a 24-year old male.

February 21, 2012   8 Comments

My ass is to blame

Did the headline confuse you?  It should.  Listen up and hear my tale.

So last night I worked until midnight preparing press kits for four different clients, three different trade shows, two countries, 150 kits, 40 CD roms, sleeves, but no partridge in a pear tree.  (They don’t like to be stapled.)

This is a cautionary tale of how press kits lead to black marks on maple hardwood.

I went to bed exhausted, but deliriously happy that the only thing left to do in the morning was print out the Fedex labels.  According to my calculations, I only needed about 15 minutes to finish the job.  Easy peasy!

First thing this morning, I pop frozen waffles into the toaster, brew a cup of decaf (do I strike you as someone who needs caffeine?) and walk into my home office to get started.

As I’m printing out the first Fedex label, I hear the dreaded crunch of a paper jam.  Fabulous.

I go into the bedroom, grab a plastic foot stool.  I pull the very large/very heavy all-in-one printer, copier, fax machine off the shelf and glide it onto the foot stool so that I can get to the rear compartment more easily.   I  then reach in to try to grab the paper.

Might as well have been trying to move the Pyramids at Giza.  Not budging.

Since the machine is about six inches off the floor, I figure it might be a good idea to get a second foot stool from the closet and use it to sit on while I try to deal with the paper jam.  (I quickly discover that sitting on the foot stool, still makes my head…which incidentally is where my eyes are located…a couple of feet higher than the damn machine.)

Continuing my Einstein ways, I think maybe if I close it all up and press the print button again, it’ll magically come out on the other side.

I press print and the paper immediately disappears from the ass end of the machine.  I am now thinking that I am a genius.  I wait patiently on the front side hoping to see the white paper come out.  Nothing.   (Funny, how that genius fist pump vibe goes away so quickly.)

Okay, so now the paper is jammed inside the machine and not visible from either end.  Again…fabulous.

The display is telling me to open the print head door.  Where’s the satellite navigation on this thing?  Print head door?   I don’t see a door?!

So I just start pulling on every surface of this thing.  You know….like maybe there’s a secret compartment where gold is hidden.  Then I decide to pull upward.  Lo and behold, the entire top half hinges up.  (Forget about hiding jewelry in the freezer.  People, I’m telling ya…stick it in the printer.  No one will ever find it there.)

And there, like a little rat’s nest, is all of the crumpled up paper.

Expression on my face?   Smug, very smug.

I’m all like…yay….back to genius status!

So, I lift the machine slightly and slide it back onto its shelf.  I pick up the first stool, the one the machine had been resting on, and return it to the bedroom.    I come back for the second stool, the one my ass had been resting on, and return that to the closet.

I walk back into the office.  WTF?!  The black marks are on the floor.  I’m thinking, how the hell did printer ink get on the floor?!   I pick up a napkin that was nearby and try to remove it.   Not budging.

That’s when I realized it wasn’t ink from the printer.  It was actually melted rubber from the little cushions at the four corners of the step stool.  Apparently pressure from my ass somehow caused them to melt into the floor.  (Yeah, I know right?!  So embarrassing.)

By this time, my housekeeper has arrived.  She is hard at work attacking my kitchen.  I have a momentary thought that I’m going to pretend these marks aren’t there and Maria can deal with them.  But then I decide that would be uncool.

So, I go into the kitchen and tell her I need to borrow the Fantastik for a few minutes.  She looks at me like I’ve lost my mind.   I think perhaps I have.

I take it into the office and squirt like I’m attacking the sign of the devil.  With a little extra rubbing, they dissolve.

So, that’s how a quick little project of printing out Fedex labels ends up creating two stubborn black marks and an  immense amount of psychological damage.

September 8, 2011   1 Comment

Sequined jackets + diving gear = my closet

I’m not sure what the exact trigger was.  Possibly it’s my UK friend visiting me at the end of the month or the advent of my 40th (unfortunately, not a typo) high school reunion next weekend.

Whatever it was, a little voice inside said it was time to attack the dreaded closets.  Here’s the summary report.

1.  There were enough jackets with shoulder pads that I could outfit an entire high school football team.  Instead of a treadmill, I should invest in a tackling dummy.

Inspiration for Rubik's Cube.

2.  A sequined jacket from the eighties.  (Wear sunglasses when looking at this puppy.)  Did I mention it was heavy?!  So heavy that I had to weigh it.

1 3/4 pounds. New respect for Crusaders wearing chain mail.

3.  A cashmere hoody?!  Really?!!  What am I…14?!  I got it on vacation in Bermuda many years ago.  Apparently, I thought it was a good idea at the time.  Don’t hate.  I also bought a gorgeous (real!) pashmina on that trip.  Clearly not every buying decision is a winner.

4.  Cashmere sweater dress from Max Mara.  Price tag still on it.  Other than my obsession for cashmere, what does that tell you?

5.  A mail order sundress that I bought in about four colors.  After it arrived, I noticed that the cleavage plunged down to my navel.  Not a good look for me…or anyone not starring in a porn flick.

There's a matching neoprene wet suit in my store locker. No sequins.

6.  A buoyancy control device from my scuba diving days.  (By pumping air in and out of it, you can adjust your vertical direction.) In the pocket, I found a little board which allows you to write your diving buddy a note underwater.  (Like, I’m out of air and I will be dying momentarily.) Oh, and a small diving knife.  (I have a much bigger one that straps to my lower leg.  Can’t have too many knives when diving.)

Despite the fact that I was pretty ruthless of what went into the donation pile, there were a few things that I couldn’t part with.

Like the Linda Evans/Dynasty-type gown I wore when giving Richard Simmons an award in the late ’80s.   (Yup.  I name dropped.)

And the fire engine red skirt, that’s about two sizes too small right now.  (I think every girl should have a hooker outfit, just in case times get tough.)

Maybe I should take those plunging neckline dresses out of the donation pile?

May 22, 2011   4 Comments

Repair people are super wealthy

That must be it.  All this time, I thought most people that worked with their hands were not as well off as corporate types, but boy was I wrong.  Way wrong.  (I clearly grew up in the wrong blue collar family.)

You see, as a public relations professional, I spend 24/7 trying to make sure that I over service my clients.  I don’t try to deliver good service.  I try to deliver exceptional service.  I realize I have to earn my relationship one project and day at a time.  Especially true in the recession/post-recession era.

Now if I had a ton of “bank,” I could seriously envision becoming a slacker.  Another word for that is retired.

And that’s how I’ve come to the conclusion that the two painters I’m considering hiring must be seriously rich.  They probably live in McMansions in the suburbs.  They may be rockin’ a truck during the week, but on the weekends they take out the Lamborghini and Ferrari out of the triple garage.

Here’s how I know I’m right.

It took painter #1 close to a week to return my call.  Then after coming to look at the job on Friday, he promised that I would have a quote on Monday.  As of today…nothing.  And, I saw him in my building earlier today chit chatting with the manager.  Dressed nicely, I might add.

Painter #1's other car. I guess it didn't come in eggshell.

I’m sure he hasn’t had a chance to pull that quote together for me because he has spent most of the past three days meeting with his financial advisers trying to figure out his position on oil futures. I’m sure he doesn’t have to work.  It’s probably just a hobby.  Yeah, that’s it.

Then we’ve got Painter #2.  He showed a lot of promise in the beginning.  He also came over on Friday and told me I’d have a quote by the next day.  He over delivered by sending me one by 10 p.m. the same day.

Impressive.  I immediately deduced that he was not as rich as painter #1.  He might only be driving a (gasp!) Lexus on the weekend. Makes sense, right?

On Monday, I responded to Painter #2 by email, saying that I accepted his bid and could he call me on Tuesday so we can schedule the job.  I received an email late Tuesday saying that he would call me on Wednesday during a break.

Anyone want to guess?  Yeah.  No call from Painter #2 yet.

On Friday he wasn’t acting rich.  By Tuesday, he was. Perhaps he won the lottery over the weekend.  Perhaps painters are recession proof.  Perhaps I’m the only asshat who actually returns clients calls and emails promptly.

Or perhaps, it would be easier to just live with cracks in the plaster than try to get a return call from a contractor.

If I didn’t have a serious allergy to manual labor and chipped nails, I swear I would take this job on myself.

May 18, 2011   Comments Off on Repair people are super wealthy

Hell hath no fury like oven cleaning

The most heinous household task of all has to be cleaning the oven.  Or in my case, ovens plural.

Might as well block out close to an entire day, because that’s pretty much how long the entire “project from hell” generally takes.

Riddle me this, Batman.  How is it that we can program ovens to self clean but when it comes to the racks themselves we are right back to serious manual labor?  The kind that is accompanied by a series of F-bombs.

And that’s the good news.

Disintegrating rubber glove.

Five minutes into the scrubathon on the second of six racks, the top half of my rubber glove’s right thumb fell off.  It was like the glove suddenly got leprosy and decided to drop appendages.  Then I ran out of 409 spray cleaner.  And the steel wool pad started disintegrating—throwing off little curly bits.  Clearly the leprosy was spreading.

Only 45 minutes into a three-hour self-cleaning cycle, I had to stop the process and run out to the store.  Which is when the universe really spit on my face.

The universe hates me.

Apparently, the Pied Piper had been through here convincing all of the rubber gloves to follow him out of the store.  They are all sitting under a tree somewhere mocking me while I end up with finger nails that resemble the serrated edges of a bread knife.

Seven hours after I started, both ovens (and their respective racks) are now sparkling.

As for me, I’ve decided to never broil or bake (both standard and convection) ever again.

Instead, I think the double ovens would make nifty sweater storage.

April 10, 2011   3 Comments

What was I thinking: a photo essay

No doubt about it.  Mother Nature has been pissed off at Chicago this year.

Yet another gloomy weekend.

With the wind howling and the snow blowing…again…I decided this would be a good day to get rid of some old client files and organize tax records.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So first I pull the old client files down from the top shelf of the storage closet.

Files, the box that my car's CD changer came in and wine glasses (still in the Crate & Barrel boxes).

After I pulled the boxes down, the shelf looked like this:

Banker boxes had just been pulled down from the top shelf.

Then I had to pull folders out of the filing cabinet and put them into banker boxes, organized by years.

Don't ask about the paper cuts.

Long about this time, I am tired and sore from lifting heavy boxes and moving files around.  Time for a snack!

What I really wanted was about 60 Oreos with a Ben & Jerry's chaser.

Fortified with the grapefruit, it was time for the worse part of the project.  I used a small step stool to lift boxes filed with paper over my head.  Each contained about 50 pounds.  You know I’m not an Olympic weight lifter, right? Did I mention the .217-inches of clearance between the top of the box and the ceiling?

My biceps are now in splints.

Done?  Oh no.  Now it’s time to take the old files on a little trip.

Taking 200 pounds of paper on an elevator ride.

Just so they can end up in a recycling graveyard.

Ba-bye paper. Enjoy your reincarnation.

After hours of heavy lifting, there was only one thing left to do.

Maybe I should have started here first.

March 5, 2011   Comments Off on What was I thinking: a photo essay