Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cleaning the Lint Trap

Hello, it's me.

Yes, that's a shameless reference to a Todd Rundgren song.  I am accepting that my daughter is right, I am a hipster crybaby, a living, breathing Nick Hornby character, sans the substance abuse, and the promiscuity, and the agnosticism.  I'm a Nick Hornby character in that I am constantly making lists, and I am somewhat hamstrung by underachievement, and I have an encyclopedic knowledge (with accompanying snobbiness) of inconsequential things, and the women in the story -- my wife and daughter, mainly -- are infinitely wiser and more interesting than I am.

You may recall that I am a human lint trap: stuff blows through my brain.  Some of it gets caught.  Well, thanks to the geniuses at Iolo System Technologies, whose wonderful anti-virus program recognized and partially deleted the Windows 7 operating system of my brand-new computer, forcing me to spend approximately 40 hours this week trying to put it all right again, I have not had much time to empty the ol' lint trap by writing.

I have become quite friendly with the staff at Dell Customer support; did you know that Dell charges for customer support?  Yes, if you don't buy the software support package at the beginning, you pay big bucks when there's a problem.  In my case, I've spent $229 this week, mainly for the privilege of hearing a faraway voice say, "I am sorry you are having problems with that sir."  On the plus side, Indian support people are, in my experience, throwing off the shackles of paternalism, and ditching the phony Western handles in favor of their true names.  I was helped by a Rajneesh (actually, he was pretty useless), and a Tavleen, and a Shawn.  OK, there is still a little work to be done.

I used to think this whole buying your "custom built" computer online was cutting edge and savvy.  Now it's just a pain.  Next time, I'll get a Toshiba at Fry's.  At least then I'll have a brick and mortar target for my rage when the thing crashes.  And if you believe you're being thrifty by declining the software protection fee, guess again.  Think of yourself as an 85 year old oil billionaire, and your new computer as Anna Nicole Smith, and the protection plan as your prenuptial agreement: you may think you're in love, but this shiny seductive thing is Trouble, and will soon break your heart and clean out your bank account.  Gird your loins, sir!  Gird your loins!

So I haven't been writing, and the lint trap is full.  Allow me to unburden:

1. A kid in my Primary class, a visitor, requested that I draw her "a car and some human beings."  Not "a mommy and a daddy" or "my brother and sister" or even "a couple of people": "Human beings."  Clearly, she is a Space Alien.

2. This week was the NFL Draft, and once again, I am reminded of how much I hate pro football.  It's a leaden, boring, stupidly violent game.  And this has nothing to do with my two traumatic seasons as a third string offensive lineman on the Swiston's Beef & Keg Broncos.  Well, not much, at least.  

I love sports.  I love baseball.  I love hockey.  Ken Dryden is one of my heroes.  I love the beauty and energy and creativity of soccer.  I even like Australian Rules Football, that strange, ungainly platypus of a sport.  I could watch Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith argue about basketball for hours.  I even sort of like college football.  But the NFL? No thanks.  The players, all helmeted and Kevlared and festooned with Nike logos, are little more than slow moving stock cars, NASCAR in cleats.  The uniforms have been reduced to spandex sheaths, and while that may work for wide receivers, looking at 400 pound interior linemen in form-fitting outfits is a little nauseating.  Most of them look like poorly stuffed bratwurst.  Then there are the drunken fans, the cheerleaders -- all of whom appear to have been recruited from second tier "gentlemen's clubs" near Houston Intercontinental Airport -- and the undeniable boredom of the game.  George Will is right; it's the worst of America, periodic spasms of violence, followed immediately by committee meetings.  

So I made a list of things I like more than football:

Australian Rules Football
Hurling (the sport, not the euphemism for vomiting)
That weird Irish game where sometimes you kick the ball, and sometimes you run with it
Walking the dogs
Hurling (the euphemism for vomiting, not the sport)
Glenn Beck

3. Certain places are meant for worship and instruction, not entertainment.  You don't step into a sacred place to be entertained; you go there to leave the world for a moment, to draw closer to God, to restore your world-weary soul.  Shame on people who think that religion's primary job is to keep us entertained.  On the other hand, you would think, given our resources and the importance of the message,  we'd be able to do better than a Heaven that looks suspiciously like a poorly crafted student remake of "Clash of the Titans", and an Eden that reminds me of the cover of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"; that, or the set for a particularly insane Bollywood musical.  And I won't even mention the guy with the Sideshow Mel voice...

Enough said about that.

4. I moved the furniture around in my office, and discovered...Rodent Droppings.  Being ill-versed in the ways of my rodent brethren, I have no idea whether they were left by a big mouse, or a little rat.  Suffice to say they were rather large dropping.  And plentiful.  How plentiful?  Imagine the rodents as travelers on Interstate 10, and my office as the only rest stop between Kerrville and Fort Stockton.  So, yes, it was a bumper crop.

What do you do in a situation like this?  You employ Hessians.  I have added two small cats to the office staff.  Their only job is to Guard Against Vermin.

So far, they have eaten a lot, and pooped a lot (they are mercifully litterbox proficient, so rather than cleaning up dozens of little disasters, I get to haul away one great, putrid mess at a time), and decided that my chair is their exclusive territory.  I get up, they occupy, like Stanford students commandeering the Dean's office.  I shoo, and they Plot Revenge.  They are cunning, these kitties.  They wait until the phone rings, then, as I answer it, they pounce, one attacking the left flank, the other the right, sinking their tiny claws deep into my lower back.  At first, I assumed it was simple cat petulance.  By week's end, I was convinced that they were trying to harvest my kidneys for sale on the black market.  This is my rule:  Never underestimate a cat.

It's late, and I am tired, and there are still a few missing drivers to track down, so Adieu, brethren, adieu...


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