Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Losing It

There are few things that dig at me more than when I misplace something.  When an item turns up missing, whether it be large or small, I simply cannot rest easy until I find it. Unfortunately, I have always had an absent-minded professor kind of brain, where my thoughts can be so occupied with some other issue that I can set something down and walk away from it without even noticing.  It’s not something that has come with age either.  I’ve been absentmindedly setting things down and forgetting them since I was a kid.  Of course age hasn’t made it any better.

My favorite things to lose are coffee mugs.  Every place I have worked, I have unintentionally left half-full mugs of coffee in various locations like some kind of cross between the Easter Bunny and Juan Valdez.  If I was lucky, I’d notice its absence in fairly short order and locate it while the coffee was still drinkable, or someone I worked with would return it to me.  There have been a few occasions where I’ve set a coffee mug down in an obscure location like a storage closet, and it goes unfound for weeks or even months.  

In case you were wondering, coffee can become a solid if given enough time. A nasty, blue-green solid.

Another common item for me to lose is, disconcertingly,  paychecks.  For most of my working life, I have been able to have my paychecks deposited directly into my bank accounts.  I haven’t had that option with my current place of work.  Over the years I have been working there, I have lost at least three paychecks.  Thankfully, our accountant is a kind and forgiving soul (not to mention endlessly patient) and has been willing to issue me a new one in each case.  Typically, I cram it into my pocket when I get it, and take it out as soon as I get home, where it safely stays in a secure spot until I am able to take it to the bank for deposit.  On all three occasions when I’ve lost a paycheck, I have literally torn apart my home, my car and my workplace looking for it.  I’ve also scoured my garage, yard, and the parking lot at work in my searches.  Having sent paper through the laundry process on numerous occasions, I know that I didn’t leave it in my pocket and destroy it in the wash, since the evidence left behind when I’ve laundered paper in the past has always been pretty clear.

Oddly enough, no trace of those three missing paychecks has ever turned up.  No one has tried to cash them, and they haven’t been found underneath a piece or furniture or under a melting snowbank.  It’s like there is some kind of Bermuda Triangle designated especially for my paychecks.

My most recent tragic loss, and the one that inspired this post, was the tiny little USB plug that goes with my wireless mouse.  I have a corded mouse that I use when I am on my laptop computer in bed, and a wireless one that I use when the laptop is downstairs in its usual place.  Last night, I briefly needed to use one of the USB ports for something else, and since I was in bed at the time, I took out the USB plug for my wireless mouse, which I was not using at the time, and (I thought) set it down on the bed next to me.  One thing lead to another, and before long I forgot all about the tiny USB plug I had set aside.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t miss it until the next morning, when I got up for my coffee and internet news fix.  My wireless mouse was not working, and the USB plug was nowhere to be found.

I immediately knew what had happened to it, but when I went upstairs to look around, I couldn’t find it.  Knowing better than to tackle a full search prior to having had coffee, I grabbed the corded mouse and went back to my caffeine and news.  I didn’t enjoy it though.  While I could very easily replace my wireless mouse, the principle of the thing bothered me.  That USB plug was somewhere. I just had to find it.  And no, I couldn’t wait until later to do it.  So I tore that room apart.  Bedding, mattress, box spring, hamper full of laundry, overloaded desk, everything was overturned.  All the books and whatnots I shoved underneath the bed came out.  Finally, after making a holy old mess, I found it.  It was right where I typically put it when I need to use a USB port, on a shelf next to my iPod and various earbuds.  I remembered taking it out of the port last night, but didn’t remember putting it in its usual place last night, so I didn’t bother to check there until last, for some reason.

Yes, I am kind of a dope, actually.

There’s a delicious irony in this post, which I promise you I am not making up.  Before I started writing this, I went back over previous posts, because I could have sworn that I had previously written one on this topic of my habit of losing things.  Even the title of this post “Losing It”, seemed like one I had used already.  So I looked back over nearly three years of posts.

Guess what?  I couldn’t find it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Annual Winter Whine Post

The winter season trudges on unabated here in Maine, despite the fact that the calendar flipped over to March not long ago.  Our friendly local meteorologist tells me that today’s high temperature is going to be 12 degrees.  12 degrees fahrenheit, not celsius.  That’s cold for this time of year, even by Maine standards.  There’s at least a little comfort in knowing that a good chunk of the North American continent is experiencing a harsh winter as well. There are few things left that we all go through together in today’s culture, but the weather is one of them.

If I had a dime for every time I’ve either uttered or heard “I’m sick of the cold” and “I’m sick of the snow” lately, I could probably settle the national debt.  While freezing temperatures and snow are the most common subjects of complaint, I’d like to offer a list of ten less-often-heard but equally valid concerns about winter, as my annual “winter whine” blog post.  (See here and here for past examples of winter whines.)

10. I’m sick of those buildups of slush in the wheel wells of my vehicle.  If they freeze solid, they can seriously damage your tire by rubbing against them, not to mention cause you to break a toe if you give it a good kick to remove it.

9. I’m sick of taking the garbage out in the cold.  Taking out the trash is an odious task under the best of conditions.  Having to do it when the snot in your nose is freezing every time you inhale just adds insult to injury.

8. I’m sick of getting more heating fuel.  Lugging in another ton of wood pellets or another cord of wood in mid to late winter because you are running low is no picnic.  Writing a large check for another tank of heating oil you didn’t budget for isn’t either. 

7. I’m sick of changing from shoes to boots to shoes.  While boots are great at helping one’s feet stay warm and dry, they tend to go on hard and come off even harder.  I’ve fallen on my keister several times this winter already doing the footwear changing dance when coming in or going out the door.  With small puddles from the snow melting off your boots, you don’t want your socks to touch the floor, after all.

6. I’m sick of being snow-blind. Yes, I am actually complaining about the sunshine here.  Don’t underestimate my whining skills.  The sun reflecting off the snow almost has the same effect as an allergy on my sensitive eyes: watering, sneezing, squinting, headaches.  Sunglasses help, but spring helps more.  Less white, more green!

5. I’m sick of these crazy cats with their cabin fever.  I am an animal guy, and enjoy watching the birds, squirrels and whatnot gather at the bird feeders outside my window in the winter.  Trouble is, so do the cats, and it makes them absolutely insane.

4. I’m sick of stale air.  Sometimes one of the cats drops a bomb in the litterbox.  Sometimes I cook things that have a lingering smell.  Sometimes I raise dust when I am cleaning around the house.  During the winter, one can’t just open up the windows and air things out.

3. I’m sick of tall snowbanks and narrow streets.  I drive a relatively high-profile SUV, and yet I’ve still had more than a few times this winter where I’ve had to stick my nose so far out into and intersection to see if anyone was coming in either direction that I’ve nearly had it clipped off.  Just a bit of a thaw to shrink those suckers down is all I ask.

2. I’m sick of not being able to make travel plans in advance.  Any out of town appointment or event at this time of year is a crapshoot, contingent upon travel conditions.  A concert you’ve been dying to see for months finally comes to a nearby city, you have tickets and hotel reservations, and then BOOM, an ice storm hits.  Epic bummer.

1. I’m sick of my feet always being cold.  My feet are almost perpetually cold anyway.  I tend to wear wool socks from October until April.  Even then my feet are chilly, only slightly less so than if I didn't wear them.  If there is such a thing as electric socks, I would seriously consider them.  I’d probably need a very long extension cord though.

Even though it seems impossible now, the temperatures will warm up, the snow will melt, and spring will arrive, just like it always has for as long as the seasonal wheel has turned.  

Of course then I’ll need to find some new things to whine about.