My Week 267: Testing Myself

A few months ago, you may remember, I was at my doctor’s. He has the worst bedside manner ever, but during this particular conversation, he got very animated; in fact, he got more excited than I’d ever seen him, because I had asked about a colon cancer screening kit:

Me: I’m really sorry but the requisition you gave me 3 years ago expired. I know I should have taken care of this sooner but–
Doctor: No! Don’t worry about it! Because there’s a new kit, and it’s EVEN BETTER than the old one!!
Me: So I can get one of the new ones?
Doctor: YES! Call the office on Monday!!

Well, Monday came and Monday went—in fact, many, many Mondays came and went—but I finally called the office last week and asked for one of the new kits. The receptionist said it would arrive in a couple of days, and when I came home on Thursday, there was an appropriately brown envelope waiting for me. I opened it up and Ken and I examined it:

Ken: There’s only one test tube! Aw, you’re so lucky!
Me: Um, why?
Ken: My kit had 3. I had to do it three days in a row.
Me: Ugh! As if one day isn’t bad enough.
Ken: You could do it tomorrow.
Me: No, I’ll wait until the weekend when I can be sure that I’ll be in my own bathroom, and not in the bathroom at the train station.

And on Friday morning, I WAS in the bathroom at the train station, and it seemed like a real missed opportunity. But then on Saturday morning, it was time. The brown envelope contained the following: a folded up piece of tissue paper, a little ziplock bag containing a vial that had a tiny spatula attached to the cap, an instruction sheet, and another pre-paid return envelope, this one yellow. Ken and I have been binge-watching Rupaul’s Drag Race, which is an AWESOME show, so when I said, “OK, it’s time”, Ken’s immediate response was, “Good luck. And DON’T f*ck it up.”

So I went upstairs and looked at the instructions very carefully. They were absolutely bizarre, and a little juvenile, but easy to understand, as you can see:

When I came downstairs later, Ken asked, “Well?”

Me: It was really stressful.
Ken: Why? Did you put the paper in the toilet first like it said?
Me: Yes. And then I went. It was a really good one. Almost too good.
Ken: Because?
Me: Because you have to swirl the spatula around in it, and then put the spatula back into the vial, and the opening is REALLY narrow, and there was a lot on it, so I had to keep trying to wipe off the excess so that it didn’t get on the outside of the container.
Ken: *laughs hysterically*
Me: I didn’t imagine I would be spending Saturday morning leaning over a toilet full of a steaming pile of poo, worrying about offending some unknown lab technician with my clumsy vial-handling skills. Also, the instructions were very unclear about where the wiping took place in this whole process, so I had to improv that part. I can’t believe you did this three days in a row.
Ken: No wonder your doctor was so excited.
Me: And now I’m worried that I did it wrong because my poo didn’t look like the one in the picture, and I just did kind of a whimsical swirl in it but this picture shows the person swiping from side to side, and maybe I really did f*ck it up.
Ken: Sashay away.

And quite possibly I AM overthinking it, but 23andMe sent me a SECOND DNA KIT because I hadn’t done the first one right, and all that involved was spitting into a test tube. I don’t know what it’s like where you all live, but I’m in Canada, so this is free, and there are some poor lab techs out there who must have to deal with hundreds of poo vials a week and I just want to make their lives a little easier. Maybe I’ll spray some perfume on the envelope as a goodwill gesture.

Last week, my niece was very proud that she was good in math, and this week I was also proud of my math skills (until I talked to Ken):

1) My director called me in to discuss my budget. “I know it’s right,” I said, ‘because I used a calculator”, and she said, “Good job.”

2) I was on the train, sitting with my friend Max, and he was mad because all the stores are now decorated for Christmas, and holidays are just an excuse to sell stuff. “Did you know,” he said, “that yesterday was National Sandwich Day?!”

Me: Did you have a sandwich in honour of this special day?
Max: No, I did not.
Me: Personally, I prefer Pi Day.
Max: What kind of pie?
Me: No, like 22 divided by seven. I think that’s on July 22nd.
Max: (*looks it up*) It says here it’s on March 14. That’s a Saturday.
Me: Ooh, then it could be a whole Pi weekend, because Pi is 3.1415. What’s Pi for anyway?
Max: I think it’s to calculate the area of a circle.
Me: Why would you ever need to do THAT? Just buy enough floor tile to make a square and trim stuff away. Is it some theoretical bullsh*t thing, like Schrödinger’s Cat?
Max: No. It’s probably for things in nature, like calculating area in the ocean.
Me: Like what, how big is the Bermuda Triangle? Oh wait, that’s a triangle. I think you use a different formula for that. It’s the Pythagorean theorem.
Max: Are you sure?
Me: Andre! Andre! How do you calculate the area of a triangle?
Andre, The New Train Car Attendant: You use the Pythagorean theorem.
Me: See? I told you I was good at math.
Max: Happy National Vinegar Day, by the way.

3) And then Ken read the above and said, “What are you talking about?

Me: It’s the Pythagorean theorem. A squared times B cubed or whatnot, and some other stuff gives you the area of a triangle.
Ken: No, it doesn’t! That’s what you use if you don’t know the length of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle. And it’s A squared plus B squared equals C squared. Your whole train car sucks at math.
Me: Then how do you calculate the area of a triangle, if you’re so smart?!
Ken: Height times base divided by two.

Me: Shantay, you stay.

My Week 245: It’s Questionable

This week was insanely busy, and I didn’t know what to write about so Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 30 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions, so I’m going to make some up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of weeks ago. Ken and I are currently obsessed with Jeopardy because there’s a guy on right now who’s won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. I’m no longer overseeing math people—now I have a really big team that specializes in language, so my math skills are getting a little rusty. Anyway, we feel sorry for the people who have to go up against “James” since he always rings in first and usually gets the answer right. If you ever watch Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek always asks the contestants questions about themselves—the questions are cheesy and the answers are sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

In the bathroom at work, there is a noisy bathroom fan—no, just kidding. There’s a plastic bag hanging off the tampon dispensing machine full of brightly coloured things. For weeks now, I’ve been speculating about what might be in the bag. Balloons? Toys? Tiny kites? Special prizes like you would buy at the dollar store and give to kids at a birthday party? I finally decided to end the mystery by looking into the bag. And lo and behold, it was full of feminine hygiene products wrapped in different colours according to size. Apparently , the dispensing machine was broken, so they just put all the stuff in a bag and hung it off the handle. It reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles (because I was vaccinated too early). I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but the bag full of pads was just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A while ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. It came out last week, and there I am, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description refers to me as a “professional appraiser”, so now I know what I can do when I retire.

Fan Question 5) Did you recently buy a velvet dress from a thrift shop?

I had to. See, two weeks before, I was going through my closet and taking out all the stuff I never wear. I loaded up everything into several bags and took them to the local Goodwill. Then I came home and started to feel terrible because there was a particular blue velvet dress that I really should have kept. It was bothering me for a while, so last week, I popped into Goodwill, went to the dress section and there it was! I was so thrilled, and the best part? It was only 8 dollars. So I took it to the counter:

Cashier: That’s a really nice dress.
Me: You won’t believe it, but I donated this dress a couple of weeks ago, and I just had to buy it back.
Cashier: Why?
Me: Because I was wearing it on New Year’s Eve a little over 20 years ago and I had just found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. I was so incredibly happy, and we have photographs of me in it with a huge smile on my face. I really needed to get it back.
Cashier: Aww! That’ll be 8 bucks.

Money well spent.

My Week 8 – Grumpiness and Mail Order Catalogue Weirdness

Friday: I am a very grumpy sick person and I know it.

I don’t get sick very often, and when I do, I often don’t get very sick. But there are times when I get really, really sick, and this is one of them. I’ve had laryngitis and a death-defying cough since Monday, and at a certain point, I realized that I’m not nice when I ‘m sick. I realized this at approximately 10:30 last night. I was watching TV, and waiting for something decent to come on when I saw a news clip of an American Republican member of Parliament, or whatever they call them down there, criticizing Barack Obama for a new immigration policy that offered amnesty to illegal aliens. He was yabbering on about how it would destroy American, at which point, I yelled, “Go screw yourself, stupid Republican!” and changed the channel. In retrospect, I think my sentiment was dead-on, but this goes to show that I’m just not myself. I don’t even know what a Republican is, particularly, except that they apparently don’t like immigrants. Are they like the Conservatives? Can someone clarify? But the fact that I yelled at the TV is somewhat alarming, especially since I always tell my grade nines that there’s no point in talking to the characters in movies since they can’t actually hear you. So at this point, I looked back over the last couple of days, and came to the conclusion that I must be very sick because I’m very grumpy:

• On Wednesday, I accused the cat of being a diva, and called her an “asshat” for using the litterbox in my bathroom. In fairness, I should point out that she has another, perfectly good litterbox downstairs, but she doesn’t like it as much as the one which is situated in the room next to where I SLEEP. Anyway, she came into the bathroom, and sat and stared at me until I looked and realized the litterbox needed to be scooped, which I did. The second, the very SECOND it was clean, she jumped in and took a fresh dump. Hence the name calling. She didn’t actually hear me though—she was too busy pretending the wall was made out of litter and if she scraped it hard enough, it would magically cover her poo. She does this most often at 3 o’clock in the morning, because who doesn’t love being awakened by the sound of a cat trying to dig her way to China?

• On Thursday, I managed to whack myself in the chest with a chalk brush (don’t ask—even I’M not sure how this happened), and then told the chalkbrush how much I hated it. “I hate you, stupid chalkbrush!” were my exact words, as I brushed chalk off myself, looking around to make sure none of my students had overheard me. They hadn’t (mostly because I have laryngitis and can’t speak above a whisper). Thank god, because how do I explain that one, especially in light of how I always tell them not to talk to the TV, and here I am cussing out a chalk brush?

• Earlier on Friday night, as I was washing my face, something fell out of my medicine cabinet, and my immediate response was “F*ck you! I’m sick of your sh*t!” I don’t even know WHAT fell out, but the epithet-laced response was most definitely out of proportion to the actual event, which tells me that yes, I am a very sick woman, and I need some rest.

The one saving grace is that I direct my illness-driven misery at mostly inanimate objects (except for the cat, and she agreed that yes, she is a diva, and that I’M an asshat for a not cleaning her litterbox out more regularly). Hopefully, I’ll recover from the Black Death soon, and the items in my medicine cabinet can rest easy. But the Republicans can still go screw themselves.

Wednesday: I wonder who exactly buys things from mail-order catalogues.

On occasion, we get mail order catalogues delivered to our house. There’s Added Touch, which features jewellery, clothes, and furniture. Why would I order anything from them, when I can buy the same things from actual stores, without having to pay shipping? We also get Signals, offering logic games and clever T-shirts with saying like “Don’t trust atoms—they make up everything” on them, and Bits and Pieces, which sells really cheap plastic garden ornaments and jigsaw puzzles of kitty cats and thatched-roof cottages. But the icing on the mail-order cake came on Wednesday, when we got, for the first time, a catalogue called Hammacher Schlemmer, which I think is German for “sh*t that you’ll never buy because it’s stupid and way too expensive”. Aside from the assorted remote control spy drones, the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, and the washable cashmere bathrobe (only $399.95), there were some really bizarre things available for purchase. Here are a few of my favourites:

Page 5: The Outdoor Heated Cat Shelter, $129.95. It’s a tiny doghouse for cats, which comes with a heated floor. It’s waterproof and can be plugged into any grounded electrical outlet. This, to me, is a paradox. You don’t like your cat enough to let it in the house when it’s cold or wet out, but you’ll pay $130.00 for a cathouse? Do you love your cat or hate it? Maybe it’s like Schrodinger’s cat—you simultaneously love AND hate it—either way, you probably shouldn’t have a cat.

Page 60: The Faux Fireplace, $69.95. The description of this item reads: “The removable fireplace decal that instills instant ski lodge coziness to a room otherwise devoid of winter’s most heart-warming tradition.” While the prose is lovely, let’s be clear—it’s a STICKER that looks like a fireplace. You just paid seventy bucks for a giant sticker, friend. It will not warm your room. The flames don’t move. The picture in the catalogue is of a man sitting in a wingchair, staring at the fireplace. Let’s be realistic—he’s staring at the wall. For the same money, you could buy a space heater, if it’s warmth you’re looking for, or for another hundred bucks, you could go to Canadian Tire and buy an electric fireplace with fake flames that actually move. If I was ever going to stick anything on my wall, it would be a life-size Johnny Depp. (I asked Ken if he was OK with that, and he said only if he got a life-size sticker of someone too, but he wouldn’t tell me who because he “didn’t want to be judged”).

Page 64: The Cyclist’s Virtual Safety Lane, $39.95. This ingenious invention consists of two laser beams that you mount on your bicycle to provide motorists a “visual indicator of a cyclist’s riding width”. This is also known as the “target zone”. Don’t people on bicycles already have enough problems with inconsiderate car drivers almost knocking them off their bikes without providing them a clear indication of exactly where you have to drive to do that? I admit, I’m not a huge fan of fanatical cyclists who zip around in their fake sponsorship outfits and torpedo helmets (I went through a post-Olympic phase of yelling “Where’s the peloton?!” out my car window when Ken and I would pass one of them on the road), but still, I don’t like to see anyone get hurt. And neither does Hammacher Sledgehammer, because on page 71, for an additional $199.95, you can also get a Bicycle Rear View Camera, just so you can see who’s bearing down on you and the rest of the peloton.

Finally, the most incredible and most useless item in the catalogue can be found on page 59. For the low, low price of only $345,000 (yes, over a third of a MILLION dollars), you can order a 6 foot tall robot. In the catalogue, it’s described as a “Celebrity Robot Avatar”, and has apparently appeared in movies, TV shows, and music videos. As a purveyor of pop culture myself, I have never seen this robot anywhere on screen. And just to clarify—it’s not actually a ROBOT. It’s a battery-powered, remote control metal can. It doesn’t do anything on its own. It’s controlled with “an intuitive wireless remote that is small enough to escape detection”. You can make it move forwards, backwards, and spin, as well as make it seem like it’s talking by speaking into a “discreet wireless microphone”. What kind of money do you have to make to spend $345,000 on a puppet? For 50 bucks, I’ll dress in a robot costume, come to your party, and have ACTUAL conversations with your guests. That’s right—I’m your robot butler, baby. Your swear-y, plague-ridden robot butler.