Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Redneck Solutions

In my last post, I told you about my little thumbnail drive’s misadventure in clean living—a three-time tour of my front-loader’s wash cycle. Today I got the courage to give the flash drive a try, and everything is still there. I can open files and work with them and all. I’m amazed. It didn’t even need duct tape.

I’ve not had such good fortune in the past. My first breadmaker, for example. In our last house, the inside corner of the countertop had a bad buckle. Stupid me didn’t realize you could reject that kind of sloppy work in a new house; we lived with it until just before we moved out 20 years later, when we replaced it in a desperate frenzy to make the house attractive in a terrible market. Anyway, I was in the habit of setting the breadmaker to do its thing overnight, and one night I must have set it too close to the bump in the counter. The breadmaker (I’m assuming, since I didn’t actually witness this part) “walked” itself to the edge of the counter and jumped off. Breadmaker suicide. I’d always thought it was happy.

My husband, whose fixit skills are mostly limited to duct taping, shooting with WD-40, or smacking with a hammer, duct-taped the lid back together. Suddenly the electrical connections lit up again. Instant redneck breadmaker. Whenever I remind him of that, he reminds me of the house I grew up in. The hot water handle in the basement shower broke off, and Dad replaced it with a vise grip. Thirty years later when the vise grip rusted, Dad replaced it—with another vise grip. One year I gave my dad one of those 365 days of duct tape calendars, which gave a new use on each day’s sheet. He called me, triumphant: “I discovered use number 366! The calendar fell apart and I duct-taped it back together!”
Any redneck solutions in your life?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flash-drive Fiction

I'm kind of obsessive, in an absent-minded way.

I write, and I keep copies of what I write. Back in the dark ages, I made actual carbon copies of my typewritten manuscripts (shut up--it was not stone tablets). I'd read that a fire will usually spare a freezer so I stored the carbons in there. Then we got a fair-sized safe, and I transferred my carbons into that. Soon my scribblings hogged much of the safe's interior, and my husband was thrilled when computers and floppy disks were invented. Usually I kept back-up disks at work, but right now I don't work outside the home, so what to do?

These days I save my files on a little thumbnail/flash drive stored in my purse. The drive is attached to a lanyard so I can find the drive quickly in the scary depths of my shoulder bag. That way I have my files on hand if someone requests a recipe, or if I want to work on my laptop instead of on my home computer. (A daughter's friend said, "I can't imagine my mother knowing what a flash drive is, much less keeping one in her purse." He thinks I'm weird? My grandmother carried a jar of yeast in hers.)

Okay, here's where the obsessive part comes in. (Refer to my first line if I've lost you. It happens.) Recently I realized that I spend a good amount of time away from my purse and computer. So I stuck the drive in my pocket as I went on a walk. And here's where the absent-mindedness comes to play. A day later I found the flash drive in my washing machine. Since I was finishing up the towels, the drive had gone through three complete loads, hiding in the front loader's rubber seals.


I should have known better. After I confessed that during a walk I had to stop at a neighbor's for a tissue for my runny nose (imagine such a person knocking at your door), a friend advised me to keep tissues in my pockets. Tried it. Picked soggy tissues out of laundry load after laundry load, so I knew my memory couldn't be trusted. That's the trouble with a bad memory. You forget you have one.

Why didn't I just slip the drive's lanyard around my neck, you ask? Well, because I already had one lanyard around my neck, an audio book on a little MP3 player, with earphone wires hanging down. Another lanyard just seemed--excessive, like three necklaces. Better obsessive than excessive, right?

Are you obsessive? To what lengths would you go to protect things that are important to you? In case of fire/flood/tornado, what would you save first?