M’hijito snapped this photo of DUCK with his iPhone. How could anyone not love her?
Speaking the which, her admirer, DRAKE, dropped by the day before yesterday. His magnetic presence was enough to finally lure her off the nest. They frolicked in the pool, they frolicked on the deck, then they flew off, presumably to frolic far from human gaze.
I feared she had abandoned the nest, leaving one perfect white egg behind. But no. Before long she was back.
Windy City Gal, who has some experience with poultry, tells me that even though she seems to be attached to the nest with SuperGlue, she actually is slipping out at night to forage on small insects, grass, and the like. Particularly, WCG remarks, ducks like to eat slugs.
Ah. Now we know how our backyard was selected over all other backyards to host the DUCK family. The yard is overrun with slugs. You can’t walk around out there at night without squishing the things. The wretches fall in the pool. They eat the basil. They level the lettuce. They perform a slow-motion hora around the lime tree. In a word, after dark they own the place.
Go-o-o-o-o-o-o-d DUCK! Long may she and her offspring thrive.
So this weekend a friend threw a party to celebrate the return of her prodigal son. This was good. Even better: a strange conversation that came up, a real eye-popper.
My friend says a man she knows publishes 5000-word pornographic novelettes on Amazon. He tries to upload one a day — about thirty a month. So far he has 265 of these things for sale on Amazon. And…
…hang onto your hats, fellow frugalists…
AND the guy says he’s earningthirty grand A MONTH from sales on this stuff. Price is $2.99 a title, of which he gets 70%. That would work out to gross income on sales of $2.09 per sale per title. If each title sold once a month (about what Slave Labor is doing), he’d make about $530 a month. To generate $30,000, he’d have to make 15,000 sales a month: on average 57 sales per title each month.
That’s outrageously high, but for porn? Maybe not so much. One woman — a stay-at-home mom with a gift for fantasy — at one point was scoring (heh) a hundred thousand sales on a truly goofy concept.
Lordie! There’s a hundred pages of hits! As it were.
Well. I don’t know that I could write porn, or that I would want to.
However, if what’s selling is 5,000-word pamphlets (in print, 5,000 words comes to about 12 or 14 pages), why not serialize the fiction that I do have???
FireRider, which is ready to go and has been languishing because my e-book guy is doing essentially nothing for me, would yield 32 installments if it were broken into 5,000-word chunks.
And what should I discover but a vast line-up of FREE Word-to-Kindle converters on the Web. You can use Amazon’s converter, too, which might be more likely to produce something that will work. What if I divided FR into 30 serial installments and mounted one a week or even one a day on Amazon?
I do not need to earn $30,000 a month. To achieve my life’s dream, my heart’s wish — never to read another freshman comp paper as long as I live — could be accomplished with $1200 a month.
At $2 a hit, about what our porn-writing informant says he takes home from Amazon, each of FireRider‘s 32 serial installments would have to sell just 19 times.
That’s a lot, in the world of Amazon. But it’s not impossible.
And now, my friends, the plot thickens:
Considering what I have that I might put online in small pieces, I went in search of the Novel Under the Bed: to wit, a story I wrote in graduate school, when I was trying not to stare at the train wreck I was making of my life by getting a Ph.D. in English literature and history.
And lo, way in the back of a dust-filled garage cabinet, I found the damn thing!
This manuscript, folks, is so old it was generated on a typewriter!
Yes. My first out-of-the-writing-seminar, in-the-wild-effort at writing fiction.
It’s just AWFUL! As a grad student, I could not write to save my life, apparently. However, it opens with a crazy action scene. Its heroine’s co-conspirator is a pimp. One of her mentors is his favorite ho. She falls in love with a gangland leader. And wouldncha know it, she’s a Ph.D. candidate.
Sociology, though. Not English.
Well, I’m thinking it wouldn’t take very much now to pump this thing into a Word file, rewriting on the fly and adding some serious sex scenes, thereby coming up with a bad novel that could be sold on Amazon.
Et voilà! Two bad novels to serialize: FireRider and this other thing, whose title was “Neither Be for Him” (it’ll need something catchier than THAT!). Supposedly it came to 71,500 words, but that’s probably an estimate. Assuming it’s in the ball park, though, we could figure that serialized in 5000-word increments, it would yield another 14 bookoids. Now we’re up to 46 things to peddle.
And as for porno novelettes, life has handed me quite a bouquet in the form of my career and my students.
When I was teaching at the Great Desert University, one of my little chickadees described her life as a high-end call girl. She was working the resorts in Scottsdale by way of earning her tuition.
At Heavenly Gardens Community College, I met a very interesting young woman who worked as a pole dancer to support her little girl and send herself through school.
At Phoenix Ragazine, the most successful ad space sales agent during my tenure was a brassy broad whose out-of-the-office life can best be described as, uhm, active.
Back at GDU, we had the serial marriers: tenured faculty who would go through one graduate student after another, marrying, divorcing, and marrying again. One guy came back from a research trip supposedly spent in English archives with a new woman in tow. He showed up at the front door of his home with this lady at his side and informed his wife — late one of his graduate students — that she was out and the new kid was in. Literally threw the wife out of the house so he could install the new model.
Oh, and there was the sanctimonious full bull who liked to invite nubiles into his office to kneel and “pray.” No joke.
And the uproar that ensued recently when the president’s office issued an edict to the effect that diddling a student would henceforth be a firing offense…oh, my!
So extreme…in the early 80s, it took running a whorehouse out of your office, staffed by students, to get yourself fired. What is academe coming to?
So the car broker dude got back in touch yesterday. Wants to know if I want to come over to his lot and view the 200+ vehicles he’s trying to peddle. I like the guy a lot and am sorely tempted to run straight over to his shop and buy something from him.
But…lookee here! Google is making great headway with its prototypical self-driving car. And I do want one of those. That thing is gonna keep me out of the life-care community and, with any luck, out of assisted living until I’m ready to shuffle off this mortal coil.
Happened to glance at the Dog Chariot’s odometer yesterday: 131,000 miles. And change. Hm. That car is 15 years old, far more antiquated than any vehicle I’ve ever owned.
Normally, I figure I put 10,000 miles a year on a car. But…
131,000 miles/15 years = 8,733 miles per year
And to what do we attribute this anomaly?
Looks pretty obvious to me: since I got laid of my job back in 2009 and no longer had to make a 40-mile round trip four or five days a week, I’ve been driving a LOT less. Even when I was teaching face-to-face, it’s only a 24-mile drive to and from the college, and that was two or at most three days a week.
The 40-mile trip to Tempe alone added up to 10,000 miles a year (40 x 5 days a week * 50 weeks a year), although as a practical matter I often worked from home; probably on average I really drove out there four days a week.
I think what this means is that since I “retired” to 60-hour weeks served almost exclusively at my own computer in a home office, my mileage has dropped enormously. In addition, because the car is so old, I no longer drive it out of town.
So…hm. I’ve been doing a lot of my shopping on the way home from my weekly meeting in Scottsdale and have limited the Costco trips to one a month. Assuming I drive out of the ‘hood to a more upscale Costco outlet, what do we have here?
It’s 24 miles RT to the Scottsdale venue; add 4 miles to that for a shopping trip that takes in Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Walgreen’s, Safeway, and if need be a Staples, a PetSmart, a Fry’s, a Nordstrom’s Rack, and a FedEx office. Assuming I did that once a week — in fact, I don’t shop for all those things that often, so this will inflate the figures — that’s 1,400 miles in 50 weeks (there are two or three weeks when we don’t meet around the holidays).
It’s three miles to the church, but choir only meets about 9 months a year; so 6 miles per trip x (9 months x 4 weeks) = 192 miles. Hm. Am I making a mistake here? Can this be possible?
Okay, let’s add a trip to the credit union once a month, plus a couple of trips to errant Costcos: To the Costco on the 1-17 via the credit union is about 30 miles, RT. That would be 240 miles a year, right (30 x 12)?
How about a trip to the Mayo once a month, much as I hope never to see the inside of that place again? 50 miles RT. Actually, it’s unrealistic to think I’d have to go there every month; once a quarter would be a lot. So 50 * 4 = 200 miles a year.
Okay, let’s add an occasional junket around town: restaurants with friends, extra shopping trips, whatever: maybe 10 miles a week; that would be 520 miles a year.
That would put my base annual mileage at around 2672 milesper year (!!) assuming I’m don’t have to run out to the Mayo every time I turn around.
Chuck thinks the car will run at least to 150,000 miles; other guys at his shop think it should run to 200,000. Assuming Chuck, the grand old man of automobile mechanicdom, is right, that’s at least 19,000 more miles.
19,000/2622 = 7.2 more years in the vehicle’s life!
Can that possibly be right?
What if we figure I drive 5,000 miles a year, half of what I used to drive when I had a job and the car was spry enough that I felt safe driving it out of town?
19000/5000 = 3.8 years
That’s still almost four years. And if the car makes it to 200,000 miles (heavens to betsy!!) it could (in theory) run almost 14 more years! At 5,000 miles a year.
That’s assuming I keep it in good repair, keep throwing money at it, and never drive it very far.
There’s an outside chance these self-driving cars will come on the market in four or five years. If I’m still living in 14 years, they almost certainly will be available.
And that is what I want for the next car. A car that would drive me around town would moot about 90% of the reason for having to go into an old-folks’ warehouse. As for day-to-day care, it would cost one helluva lot less to have Gerardo come here every week and a cleaning lady or other caretaker come to the house every week — or even more often — than it would to pay four or five grand a month (or more!) to live in one of those places. One of those contraptions could very well make aging in place possible.
Keeping the Chariot is an inconvenience, of course. It has to be serviced more often than a newer car, and it’s pretty confining not even to be able to drive to Prescott or Bisbee. If it gets into a fender-bender, the insurance company is going to total it, and then I’ll be forced to hurry out and buy a car I don’t really want.
But…renting a car for day trips would barely register compared to the cost of buying a newer car. Insurance premiums are rock-bottom. Registration fees are negligible. And it runs like a proverbial top.
(Why are tops said to run so swimmingly? Mine always used to fall over…)
M’hijito came by this afternoon with Charley the Golden Retriever. We hiked in the mountain preserve and then came back to the Funny Farm and hung out. While he was here, Ruby and Charley got into the pool area and started frolicking around.
Straightaway, Ruby started snurfling and digging around under the cat’s claw. M’hijito went to inquire and found, lo! THE DUCK’S NEST!
She’s made a nest right next to the pool, in under the tangle of jungle vines that is the aged cat’s claw mound. There were no eggs in it, and so we figured my efforts to chase her away worked. I haven’t seen her for a week or ten days.
No. Just now I went out there to pick up some of the junk that’s blown into the pool, and what should I see all snuggled under the foliage but DUCK!
Yup. There she is.
She’s so cute and pretty and sweet on her nest. The wind is howling around, junk is flying through the air and crashing into the pool. And I can not bring myself to scare her off or sic the pup on her.
So I guess we have a tame duck out there. Before long, we’ll have about half-a-dozen ducklings, no doubt.
Wonder if there’s some sort of covering I could cut to fit and lay over the KoolDeck alongside her new home, so she doesn’t wreck that porous stuff? It would have to be heavy enough to stay put and not slippery under foot, because I have to go back and forth along that narrow ledge to care for the pool. I probably can secure it with rocks and bricks. Hm.
She’s a very beautiful little bird. And weirdly, she doesn’t seem to be even faintly afraid of humans, even after I’ve squirted her with water and tossed a beach ball at her.
Not that I don’t love my students. Most of them. I do, they’re lovely. And all. But i. hate. teaching!
With two days to go before semester grades are due to the District, another incident happened that I have specifically designed my classes and my policies to avoid.
Three bloated sections’ worth of student papers are graded, and I am at last ready to file grades. Experience suggested, however, that it was best to wait until the last minute to enter everyone’s final scores and click the “done” button in the District’s software. Once you’ve done that, you can’t go back, even a few minutes later, and adjust a score. This means that if a student has a problem of some kind that you can help by accepting a paper a day late or giving the person an opportunity to rewrite some screw-up, you can’t change that person’s final grade without jumping through a complicated, time-consuming, annoying set of bureaucratic hoops. So: don’t hurry to get finished with the grading hassles.
Thank you, Goddess of Experience!
Two days ago, I get a message from a chucklehead who has turned in all of two assignments (if you count the machine-graded quiz over the syllabus as an “assignment,” which I don’t): “Why do I have a score of 14% in this class when I turned in all the assignments correctly?”
Dear Mr. Chucklehead:
You turned in the first assignment but did not turn in any of the others. Attached is a screenshot showing how this looks in Canvas. As you can see, the system says “No assignment submitted.”
Mr. C. writes back:
Dear Ms. Crabapple:
But I did! I sent them all to you by e-mail. I thought I was supposed to do that.
Oh yah? Well then, why did you file the first assignment in Canvas, in the normal way? I refrain from remarking on the speciousness of this, because now I realize this idiot has
a) never registered (or cared) that he was not getting any feedback or grades on his assignments;
b) never checked into the online course to see what grades he got on the many papers he was supposed to have turned in; and
c) sent an entire semester’s worth of student drivel to my account in the campus e-mail system, which, in violation of the rules, I absolutely positively decline to use.
I don’t use the District’s system because they allow everybody and her little sister to blitz the entire mailing list of the largest community college system on the planet with all manner of stupid time-wasting irrelevant junk. On any given day, 50 to 100 inane messages are blasted out to everyone from landscape workers to the president:
From a campus in Chandler, halfway to Tucson: Our beloved janitor Joe Bltzphk is retiring on Friday. His retirement party is at noon in the department lunch room. Y’all come!
From a campus up against the South Mountains, halfway to San Diego: Having cleaned out our file drawers, we have a stack of 15 spare file folders. Please come by the department office and take them away.
From a campus in the northwest valley, halfway to San Francisco: Many thanks to Arnold Heffenpfeffer for photographing our campus picnic the other day.
From the same campus: Congratulations to Arnold Heffenpfeffer for getting thanks for photographing our campus picnic the other day.
From the same campus: Thanks to everyone who attended our campus picnic the other day.
From the same campus: Yes. Everyone who attended our campus picnic the other day was GREAT!
And on and on and on and inbox-cloggingly ON…
As a practical matter, as long as the students use the Canvas online course site, as anyone with any common sense would naturally do because that’s where the damn course resides and it’s where the damn assignments submission function IS and it’s where the “e-mail-your-professor” function IS, I’m not violating the rules. All Canvas’s e-mail functions are routed through the campus Gmail system — thus doth the contract with Google work. Anything a student sends to me or I send to a student is copied to Gmail and accordingly backed up on Google’s servers, there to dwell until the end of time. So technically we are using the District’s email system. Sort of.
However, if you send a message directly to me at the District’s Gmail address, naturally it does not forward to Canvas, and so naturally I will not see it.
What would possess the jerk to do this escapes me.
But when he did it, he put me over the barrel: I couldn’t refuse to read an entire semester’s worth of work, because when he complained to the chair and the dean (which he would, forthwith), it would become apparent that I never, EVER log into their annoying system.
It took almost SIX HOURS to read all that shit! He obviously hadn’t bothered to read anything associated with the course — he must never have visited the site after the first week (I could find out but do not wish to bother, myself). He passed with a C-minus, which, this being a junior college, is the equivalent of a D-minus or F-plus in more advanced realms.
This made me particularly angry because years ago, when I was just starting out teaching full-time, some jerk did the same thing by asking for an incomplete and then coming back, three years later, with a whole semester’s worth of papers. I hadn’t yet learned to put an end-date on an incomplete form; at GDU, if you fail to do that, the kid can come back sometime in another century and demand a grade in the course. My syllabi now state that I do not give incompletes unless all but one paper has been submitted and the student has an average grade of C or better in the course. At one point yesterday, obeying Cardiodoc’s order, I took my blood pressure: 157/135.
Holy shit. By comparison, this morning it’s 122/77, about where it’s hovered all month.
Paused long enough to bolt down lunch.
Then returned to the computer to write this summer’s syllabus. This also is a multi-hour project, because we’re required to reiterate our assignments and calendar three redundant times in the template that we have to use.
First, like this…
90% – 100% = A
80% – 89.999% = B
70% – 79.999% = C
60% – 69.999% = D
Less than 60% = F
Then, like this…
Description of Assignments:
Note: All assignments and the essays are submitted electronically through Canvas. You may use the narrative box to paste in your reading responses and the syllabus response. The three required essays, however, will be submitted as attachments. The attachments MUST BE WORD-COMPATIBLE! That means they must be saved as .doc, .docx, or .rtf files. NO EXCEPTIONS, and no, I am not going to spend extra time grading papers that didn’t get read by the deadline because they were submitted in the wrong format.
Preliminaries: Introduction and Syllabus Quiz
Syllabus Quiz: May 28.
This is an open-book review of the course syllabus. You must score 10 points on the thing to get credit on other assignments in the course; you get five tries and can keep flailing at it until the end of the week.
Introduction. Due May 29.
Please write, in essay form, not as bulleted points, a short introduction. Tell me who you are, where you came from and how on earth you got here, and what you hope to accomplish at PVCC.
Open-book Quizzes: Chapters in the Seyler Text
Please note that the number of the quiz does NOT correspond to the number of the chapter! The chapters are not assigned in consecutive order.
I know it’s a hardship for many of us, but you WILL need to buy, rent, or borrow the textbook. The library has copies that you can use there, but note that the library’s hours will be much restricted this summer thanks to our legislators’ short-sighted budget cuts.
Deadlines are short; you’ll need to read this material at a pretty fast pace. PLAN AHEAD and MANAGE YOUR TIME. One option may be to go in together with a classmate on the cost of a book and work on this material together. Note that you’re not required to do each quiz ON the due date but rather BY the due date. Thus you could, if you organized your time effectively, do some of these quizzes a day or two early and relieve some deadline pressure. Note also that quiz 11 is due the day before July 4; plan accordingly.
You get 3 chances to maximize your score on each open-book quiz.
The first two essays (a cause and effect and an extended definition) may be used to build toward your final 2,500-word term paper. Note, though, that this will require you to think ahead! To make this work, you’ll need to decide on a topic for your final paper very early in the term, and you’ll need to make both the cause & effect and the extended definition essays be researched papers with citations and documentation on topics closely related to your final paper’s subject. This strategy is not required BUT will save you a lot of last-minute work at the end of the semester.
Cause and Effect Essay: Due June 22. 750 words
Write a causal analysis on a subject of your choice, using the rhetorical principles and techniques you have been learning about in your readings in Seyler. It is important to apply sound logical thinking and argumentation to this assignment! Your topic should be focused sharply enough for you to address causes and effects of some specific issue or phenomenon – do not try to explain all the problems of the world. This essay should be sourced and documented, even though you have not yet studied techniques of gathering information and documenting sources. Do the best you can to find material to support your argument and show where the material came from. Remember, if you find some solid, credible sources and record where you found them, you may be able to use them for your final, 2,500-word paper, assuming you choose your subject cleverly. In any event, follow MLA style for typing your manuscript; this is described in the textbook and also at the Purdue OWL website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
Extended Definition: Due June 29. 750 words.
Interpret, from your point of view, the meaning of a term, concept, or issue related to a topic of current interest. For example, in defining charter schools, you might take the point of view that certain charter schools whose entry requirements are very high or that have certain other stringent requirements are not really “public schools,” in that they cultivate exclusivity. This paper should have at least three sources, two of which should be solid sources from the library’s databases. Use in-text citation to indicate where you’ve found your information and ideas, and use a Works Cited page to describe each source using MLA style.
Preliminary Work on Final Paper: Due July 6.
Submit the topic of your position paper or causal analysis, with a thesis statement, one paragraph from any part of the planned paper, and an outline of the paper. The outline does not have to be graven in stone but should show what direction you’re going in and demonstrate some thought about how you will approach and organize the paper.
Position Paper: Due July 13. 2,500 words.
Against all comers, present and defend a considered, reasoned, and well researched position on a topic of current interest. Using plenty of facts and expert opinion, state your position and explain your thinking. Take into consideration what other people may think; describe other points of view and explain why you disagree with them or simply why you have concluded your viewpoint is more accurate or more effective. Consider the parts of your argument that others may question, and respond to any doubts or counterarguments in your discussion. This paper should have at least six solid sources from the library’s databases and hard-copy books or journals, plus as many lighter online sources as you would like to include. 2,500 words.
Extra Credit Items:
Extra credit will be offered for a revision of the cause & effect paper, and for a good, serious, no-nonsense outline of the final paper, which must be turned in no later than July 6. Also, extra credit is available for turning in the final paper (the 2500-w ord position paper) by 11:55 p .m. July 10.
Opportunity: A cleanly edited revision of the Cause and Effect argument, pasted into a document with the graded original in such a way that I can tell the difference, see my edits & comments in the original, and identify your edited version. Due by June 26 and no later than June 26.15 points.
Opportunity: A credible, legit, full-length, complete, no-BS topic outline of the final paper, submitted by July 8and no later than July 8. 15 points.
Opportunity: Post the final paper (the 2500-word position paper) early: by 11:55 p.m. on July 10. 20 points.
Then like this…
I have to ask you: Is that or is that not the stupidest goddamn thing you ever saw?????
All this crap could be distilled into one, count it, (1) table (I know: I’ve done it), which would be easier to read and would state the details ONCE, not freaking THREE TIMES.
Most of it is boilerplate, of course. But for every single semester, I have to go comb through the whole mess — the department’s required syllabus is SEVENTEEN PAGES LONG! — and replace all of the dates, trying to get them right. But every semester, there’s always some damnfool complication.
This semester, the complication is my decision to deep-six the busywork assignments requiring students to read and summarize the chapters (this was an attempt to get them to buy or borrow the book and then open the damn book, which most of them will not do unless forced to it). These are now replaced by machine-graded quizzes — ELEVEN of the little effers — which also amount to a form of busywork because classmates get to take them three times by way of trying to rack up a passing score.
The true/false/multiple-guess quizzes are not meant as assessment tools. Their purpose is to force the little darlin’s to read the book and to run their glassy gaze over the important passages in the key chapters. Most of them don’t read textbooks (if they can get out of it) because they can’t read. Well, they can parse out the meaning of a message on a billboard. But they don’t, by and large, read well enough to quickly spot the high points of a dense document like a textbook chapter. So, because reading is a strain for them, quite naturally they avoid it as much as they can.
At any rate, because they can’t read, my workload is multiplied by some uncountable factor.
The latest annoyance indicated that even though the boilerplate syllabus says “All assignments and the essays are submitted electronically through Canvas,” I’d better reiterate THAT again in more assertive language. Hence the bottomless syllabus gained yet another passage:
How to Submit Assignments in Canvas
Please do not email assignments to me unless specifically asked to do so. Submit assignments through Canvas’s “Assignments” function. Here are two sites that explain how to do this:
I will return your graded papers as quickly as I can, through Canvas. Turnaround may take several days. PLEASE CHECK IN to be sure your papers have been returned, and read the comments on your papers. They’re designed to help you do your best on the next paper. The only way you can be sure that your paper has reached me and your grade has been posted in Canvas is to check in to the course, view your grades, and download your graded paper.
It’s your responsibility to be sure your papers are submitted correctly and can reach me through Canvas. It is not my responsibility to read a whole semester’s worth of your papers because, three days before the end of class, you figured out you’d been uploading them to the wrong place. Do not expect that I will do so.
Can you imagine having to tell a college student, presumably an adult or near-adult who is paying to take the course, to read the graded papers? Honest to god.
You understand, they will not read the syllabus, any more than they’ll read the book. However, the District explicitly describes the course syllabus as a “contract.” Provisions are regarded as rules graven in stone.
So the syllabus actually is not so much a guide to your course as a CYA document. If some student pulls a stunt that you haven’t anticipated and so have not laid down the law peremptorily in your syllabus, you are SOL. Because it never entered my mind that some moron would e-mail his assignments through a different system, I was screwed: I had to spend five hours reading trash that should have moved off my desk weeks ago.
So, you ask, being a reasonable person, if they don’t read the syllabus, how do they find out what the assignments are and when to turn them in?
Well…some of them don’t. That’s why you give them a quiz over the syllabus during the first week of class.
Then, you have to take all of that material, which you’ve now already expressed in three different hard-copy formats, and reiterate it in your Canvas shell three different ways:
•You post the 17-page hard-copy syllabus online, as a PDF. •You enter the assignments and their due dates in Canvas’s “Assignments” function, which generates a calendar-like list for them. •Once a week, you post an “announcement” that describes all the assignments due that week with their due dates.
So…after you’ve rewritten your syllabus, then you have to go through your Canvas site and rewrite all of that. And that takes the better part of another full day.
Yesterday I worked from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a brief pause for lunch and social media check; then flew to choir. Fell into bed after 10 p.m. None of the work I did between noon and 6:00 p.m. was paid — course prep is unpaid overtime.
Zowie! Yesterday Larry Goldstein of Preferred Handyman Services, who came highly recommended on Angie’s List, dropped by to peruse the growing list of honey-do’s that need some skilled attention. He looks at the half-a-page of chores and projects, advises me on where to take the ones he doesn’t want to do (apparently painting the outside of houses in 110-degree heat is not among his preferred services), writes down what’s needed for the projects he will do, and says he’ll e-mail me with an estimate.
While he’s inspecting, I mention that the patio table jiggles so violently it threatens to collapse. It has these little cap-shaped bolt things that appear to hold it together, but I can’t tighten them with my fingers and if there’s a tool for them, I have NO idea what it might be.
He explains that the cap-shaped bolt things ARE caps, and flips off a couple to illustrate. Underneath is a round bolt thing that has to be turned with an Allen wrench. He tightens a couple of them and then proceeds on his inspection tour.
I think…hmmm…. I have a whole package of Allen wrenches out there in the garage somewhere. Bookmark that thought.
Meanwhile, on his way out the door he repairs the laundry faucet and shows me how to turn off the water to that sink in the absence (yes!) (no…don’t ask) of a shut-off valve.
As he’s headed for his truck I say, “Let me pay you for your trip over here.” He says, “Oh, no. That’s not a problem.” I think oooookkkaaayyyy… I was prepared to shell out $60 plus parts just to have him schlep over here and do the most urgent repair — which was that faucet.
Well, I have yet to hear back from him. I hope he resurfaces, because I think he may be God.
This morning, of course, the table still jiggled under my breakfast plate, because once he realized I knew what an Allen wrench is and that I had a lifetime supply of the things, he also realized this was a job I could do. So I grabbed a slot screwdriver, flipped off the li’l caps, found the right size Allen wrench, and voilà!
It was amazingly easy. And now the table is rock-solid.
Remember the timeRuby ate the lamp cord? I took it over to Hinckley’s, the nearest lamp repair joint I know. They charged $50 to rewire the damn lamp. Within two weeks after I put it back on the table, she chewed the cord off again! That was after I’d sprayed it liberally with Bitter Apple. Well, I could not afford another fifty bucks for another eight feet of puppy fodder, so replaced my favorite living-room lamp with an old clunker from a back room and taped the cord down with clear cellophane shipping tape.
Nice decorator touch, eh?
So I asked Larry if he would rewire the lamp while he was puttering with some of the other chores. He says, “Well, they’ll do it for you at French’s.”
I say, “Seriously? I wondered if they would but was afraid to ask. Thought they might be insulted, since…that’s not what they do.” French’s is probably the premier electric supply house in the city — it caters largely to the trade.
“Sure,” he says. “Mike will do it, and if he won’t, John* will.” So he gets on the phone and calls these guys up and asks if they’ll rewire a lamp. Mike says sure, he’ll do it.
“Remember to remind them that I sent you.” He hands me a business card to be sure I won’t forget his name.
So the guy saved me the cost of a plumber’s trip, the cost of a new faucet, and $40 on the lamp rewire…and he charged me nothing!
How incredible IS that?
*Probably not their real names. There’s a reason he figured he’d better give me a bidness card…