Archive | 8:40 pm

S’no Kidding.

18 Nov

from March  2, 2009

I didn’t sleep too well last night. As I am usually a terrible sleeper, this means that last night was an even more terrible sleeper. At 3am I was watching the Knife Collector’s Show on Ion TV.

Yeah, it was about as bad as it sounds.

This guy was trying to sell, home-shopping style, a set of 13 knives. The first ten were some sort of variations of a Bowie knife. One of them was called “the Galactic Warrior” and was about a foot and a half long, with serrated edges, spikes, all kinds of unnecessary ancillary blades sprouting out from it, and looked like something a Klingon would either take into battle or shave with. The rest were all variously designed with superfluous steel, genuine wood handles from “special knife-handle species of tree” and bad balance. No matter how many times the guy tried to thrust them into the thick slabs of wood serving as displays they always fell over. Once, in a domino effect, six of them cascaded down and the guy’s first impulse was to reach out and grab them. Good thing he missed or he’d be missing a few fingers right now.

The other three knives in the set weren’t “knives” at all. One was a katana, one was a samurai sword, and one was “THE DRAGONSLAYER.” (I’m putting that in caps because he said it in caps.) THE DRAGONSLAYER was a sword with a blade about a foot thick and four feet long. The handle had some kind of mystic runes etched in it. The blade had weird kind of Harry Potter looking inscriptions. The pommel was a dragon’s head. The guard, the thing that goes above the handle and protects your hands, ended in two mini-swords that made the whole thing look like something that you’d only be proud to display in your home if you were a total and complete asshole. And if you happen to be a total and complete asshole, it comes with a display.

How much would you pay for that set? Well, if you are anything like me, and God help you if you are, you’d pay nothing for the set but you’d pay a whole lot for someone to demonstrate the Galactic Warrior on the host’s head. They guy had no idea what he was talking about. While he was waving the heavy cutlery around, he was constantly asking the producer “which blade is this?, “what are we charging for it?”, “is it on the website?”, “are we still in this knife? Or are we selling the next one?” Faintly, but clearly audible, you could hear the producer’s very tried answers. The disgust was palpable.

For anyone interested, the retail price of that set was $1,500.95, but they were letting go for the “wow!” price of $164. Even better, they’d stretch it out to two payments of only $82 apiece. The host was taken aback, stunned really, because the Galactic Warrior alone was over $500 and he hadn’t even seen a price for THE DRAGONSLAYER but it had to be well over, he really said this, $10,000. Just out of curiosity, I checked the TiVo and it said that this show was from 2005. A repeat. Of a show selling products from four years ago. And I was up past 3am watching it.

I’m sure the prices have gone up since then.

By 6am I had been in and out of bed a dozen times, mostly just walking from one room to the other, sometimes looking out the window at the snow. Pretty snow. Fluffy snow. Nice, serene, late night snow covering my car so thick it’ll take me forever to dig out, and God knows I’ll never find a spot after I pull out and so help me I’ll kill a sanitation worker if he plows me in.

But the snow looked pretty.

I was sure, positive, I’d have to start digging and go to work. I work in a school on a hill in a residential area made up of winding side streets near the ferry, so a parking spot in the snow would be harder to find than Amy Winehouse in an AA meeting.

I put on NY1 and waited to see if schools would be open. There was no big SCHOOL CLOSED graphic, no video of happy kids throwing snowballs, just a crawl that said that every single school, nursery school, romper room, college, barn, and hayloft in New Jersey was closed, as usual. I flipped to Good Day New York, which used to have the smoking hot Jodi Applegate but now has some dude and there was no big graphic there either. It did say that mass transit was running and right then and there I started to put on my socks.

But as I pulled on my socks, the crawl on the bottom of the screen started flashing.

Yes, yes!


Yes, yes!


What? Are what?


Tell me!


Open or closed! What are they? Open or closed?????


Damn you channel 5!



I pulled off my socks.

This was the first snow day in five years, they said. I remember my first snow day almost ten years ago. I had only been teaching a few weeks in a crappy intermediate school in Bay Ridge and they were forecasting the storm of the century, something like 15 inches of snow, and that was just in the first hour. I woke up that day and it looked like crap. The sky was black, not dark, black. The wind was howling. Little rain squalls were kicking up here and there. Schools just had to be closed. But the Mayor waited and waited, dickered (I like that word- sounds nasty) and dickered until 7am and closed the schools. Immediately I got a phone call from Christine, another new teacher and someone whom I was just in the process of getting close to (and that process would end soon after when, being invited to a party on her friend’s boat via email, I emailed back something along the lines of “ARGH! Shiver me timbers! It’ll be me pleasure to make you walk the plank, ye scurvy wench“) and we were so giddy over the snow day that I totally failed to make a lunch date with her. Long story short, the storm never came and the day turned out to be kind of nice and breezy.

Better than the snow day was the transit strike a few years ago. Schools were open but the kids couldn’t get there so I sat in the hallway with Michelle and played catch with other teachers. A school is a great place to work when there are no students.

As I write this it is 10am and I have spent the first hours of the snow day not sleeping. What is wrong with me?

You can probably tell from my blogs.

My Senior Trip to the Hardware Store.

18 Nov

from March 1, 2009

If anyone asks, tell them I’m upstate.

Strange thing, life. (Your life may vary.) If I were still at my old school there’s a good chance I’d have been on the senior trip this weekend. Senior Trip last year was fun, if your idea of fun is keeping two rival high schools from rumbling is fun. But I did get to sit in a hallway until 4am and almost died playing paint ball on a glacier, so I guess everything is relative.

Not being at the old place  anymore has definite pros and cons.
Longer commute
Less familiarity with students and staff
Not involved with school events
Not working with friends
Not working on yearbook
Not going on Senior Trip

My new school is not closing down

Well, in all honesty, if I were back there I’d like to have gone, if only to see if the burger guy Kathy almost got fired last year is still there. At any rate, I’m OK with not going, but life being the cosmic game of “shit” that it is, kept throwing it back in my face. For example: On Friday, I found out, my new school  also had their senior trip (I am sick of capitalizing that.) I had no idea it was coming, nor do I even know where they went. This is because not only do I not teach seniors, but I am also extremely dense. I found out about the senior trip when my period four class asked me “what are you doing here, you’re supposed to be on the senior trip?”. News to me. All I know is, the COSA (not to be confused with LA COSA NOSTRA, trust me, I made that near-fatal mistake) told some kids that I was going. Again, news to me. Needless to say, if you haven’t already figured it out, I did not go. I am fairly certain that I wasn’t supposed to. I think.

Then I found out that my old colleague and general partner-in-complaints Michelle is on the senior trip with her school. If somehow Michelle and Liz are on the same dude ranch, and my school  is there without me, I will be pissed. Like I said, Life is a big game of “shit.”

But I made up for it. I went to one of my favorite places, one which, in fact, inspired a couple of good blogs. (I know what you’re thinking, smart-alec, yes I do have a couple of good ones.)

I went to Home Depot.

(Full Disclosure- I did not go to Home Depot.
I actually went to Lowe’s, which, other than being blue instead of orange, and slightly brighter, is EXACTLY THE SAME as Home Depot. And right across the street.
Please direct all complaints to the

Buying hardware is a man thing. Oh sure, women buy hardware. We even let them in the stores. But like peeing on a campfire and punching out rednecks, it’s a guy thing. I was there to buy a washing machine. Major appliance. Measuring involved, plumbing, (and here you can imagine me hitching up my tool belt), and tools.

Now, I’ve had trouble at Home Depot in the past. One time they sold out of the advertised cordless drill the day before the sale began. Another time a salesman tried to sell me some 3/4″ sheet metal screws when I knew damn well I needed 5/8. And, infamously, I was unable to buy a knob for my air conditioner, thus setting me on a trip to Boro Park. Forearmed and forewarned, I didn’t go to the store nearby.

I went to the one under the Gowanus. “Gowanus” is an old Indian word for “Hey Chief, that overpass is about to rust apart.” It is a really crappy area. Remember the part of Goodfellas where Jimmy the Gent tries to get Karen to go into his warehouse to get some swag, where he would most likely have whacked her? It was filmed one block over. I have some “cool” (an old Indian word meaning “bad”) pictures of me sneering like De Niro and pointing to the warehouse. I figured that a neighborhood of seedy warehouses over a slimy creek and under an elevated train near the waterfront is about as manly as it gets. It even had an element of danger. I might have been bothered by one of the drunks hovering suspiciously close to my car.

Inside the store I first saw a large display of leaf blowers. Damn they were nice. This model had an extra tank for gas storage and a pair of attachments for stubborn or wet leaves. I got as far as trying one on until I remembered that I live in an apartment and moved on to the emergency generators.

No matter what store I am in, if they sell flashlights, that’s the aisle you can find me in. I’ve got three mini-maglites (the creme de la creme of mini lights) and flashlights that have tripods, rubberized coatings, flexible arms, and even ones that crank instead of using batteries in case The Reckoning leaves me behind. So of course I put a Black and Decker gooseneck work light in my wagon.

After handling every torque wrench and comparing dry wall screws I moved on to the appliances and reflected that, had I handled the merchandise the same way in, say, a lingerie store, I may have been asked to leave.

I went over to the salesman and saw that he was about 90 years old and wearing a tool belt with grease stains older than the Shroud of Turin. Good. This guy should know what he was talking about. And he did. Our conversation was peppered with terms like “thermal mesh,” “brass sheet knurling,” and even one “other big puss salesmen in the electrical department.” Man-type conversation.

I bought a washer and was actually happy that it didn’t come with some hoses that common sense just screams that a washer should come with. Happy? Sure. I got to buy some stuff in the plumbing aisle, which is probably the aisle that over the years I’ve bought the least from. I have to point out, for honesty’s sake (a first for this blog) that all you need to hook up a washer is a Y-hose, faucet hose, and a couple of screw-on attachments. In fact, not a single tool is needed. But just in case, I bought a plumber’s wrench, wire cutters, and knee pads.

Delivery won’t be until next week because the washer wasn’t in stock. Damn Home depot. (Lowe’s.)

Back out in the parking lot I made it my car without one of the drunks asking me for change. Good thing too, because I wasn’t afraid to swing my new plumber’s wrench.

While it was no trip to the dude ranch, I got just as much enjoyment out of the hardware store. Probably even more, when you consider that I didn’t have to worry about any kids getting kicked by a horse.

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