Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Is Clothes Shopping So Hard?

I had a spare hour or so between meetings yesterday so decided to head over to Stanford Shopping Center to try and do some clothes shopping.

I find buying clothes to be a painful and highly frustrating process. This is because I suffer from two key failings that render me particularly ill-suited (pun intended) to successfully accomplishing that most simple of tasks: a) I am short and skinny, unlike the majority of the male demographic around these parts, and b) I'm not gay. Taken together, this renders 95% of what's exhibited in stores out there utterly unsuitable unless I somehow gain 50 extra pounds overnight or suddenly take to liking pale yellow shirts with shoulder tabs. However, "needs must" as they say and so I ventured forth regardless. Which brings me to a third reason it's a futile quest: I am the wrong age.

Quite sensibly from their perspective, malls such as Stanford cater largely to the clientele to hand, namely rich kids under 25 in their case. Therefore, SSC abounds with stores catering for the young and trendy rather than the middle-aged and indifferent, the latter category being of course the one in which I am counted. In fairness, however, I should point out that the larger chains at least also have to cater to the older crowd, but largely that means they just carry stuff made by Ralph Lauren. Please, God, preserve me from that fate. I have never played polo and likely never will, and what's worse polo, when it is played at all, is done so by the likes of Prince Charles, someone that no one wants to dress like unless they are certifiably insane. And yes, I know the Macy's and Bloomingdales of this world sell suits, too, but I don't know who buys them. Indeed, when I went up there, purely in the interests of checking out the vibe, the answer appeared to be "no one at all" because the entire floor was utterly deserted.

However, I finally did find a cheap shirt at J. Crew ($15 in a sale, a level to which I bet they weren't sure their price guns could sink to) and a pair of "need to look vaguely smart in the office but without actually bothering to wear a jacket" trousers from Banana Republic, also on sale.

With luck, that should see me through until well into 2011, by which time I have no doubt that the problem will have become even worse.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Of Mice And Men, But Mostly Mice

As highlighted previously, we are going through some minor remodelling work. So far, the ugly wood cladding from the ceiling has been removed and the ceiling refinished. Also now done, the lamps set into the full-height of the ceiling in the living room have been replaced with 50,000 hour LED items so now we can actually turn the bloody things on without forever fretting about how to replace a blown bulb. Next up, redoing the work surfaces in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, the entire place is off course a mess, including the garden which increasingly seems to look like a scale map of the battlefields of the Somme, exhibiting as it does countless trenches, holes and tunnels. However, that's just the manifestation of a larger problem: mice have made it through our defences and infiltrated the underfloor.

A week or so ago I woke up to hear odd noises coming from the kitchen. Something was scurrying over the construction paper that was taped to the floor to try and provide some sort of protection while work was underway. Next night, same thing. Each time I'd go down there and of course nothing could be seen, but I knew alright, I knew ...

Things proceeded to escalate. In addition to the "walking about" noises, another sound could be heard: serious gnawing. After a couple more nights trying to figure out where on earth it was coming from, the secret of the mouse army was revealed - one of the buggers had got into the heating duct and was trying to chew its way out from the inside. "This means war", I tell you!

Tally so far: four dead, two captured and released (one with minor injuries) and at least one more to go. And one of our traps was captured by the enemy and now presumed lost.

Definitely a learning experience, with lessons as follows:

1. Mice can get through amazingly small places. I think they got in through a grill set under the house through which air conditioner piping had been (badly) routed. It wasn't much of a gap, but enough it seems for them to slip through at dead of night. Or even during the day. Seems our dogs will chase lizards until the cows (which we don't have an infestation of, thankfully) come home, but rodents leave them cold.

2. Mice literally think peanut butter is to die for. Makes great bait. But after a while it does put you off PB&J for breakfast.

3. Repairing heating duct is hard, so have someone else do it. On the plus side, you may find, hidden on top of a small cupboard the previous owners built, a 1996 copy of Playboy hidden in an envelope addressed to the head male of said household.

4. Reusable traps are great the first time you use them but after that they smell of scared mouse pee and so all future foot soldiers from the mouse army give them a wide berth, thereby utterly negating their value.

5. Mice don't spring rat traps and only sometimes spring mouse traps. Be prepared for a long campaign. with a side effect that all the peanut butter they consume means you are strengthening your foes.

6. There seems to be a natural force of attraction in effect between set mouse traps and human fingers. Oddly, this force only acts when the trap is wound up and ready to go, not when it has sprung. I'll ping Dr. Hawking to see if potential energy effects at the quantum level can explain this. Or rather, I will when my fingers heal well enough for better tipyng.

7. Sometimes, Mr. Mousey isn't killed by spring traps but rather caught by a stray leg, tail or some such. One of the fallen was sans a back leg and that is also why one of those released was not at full fighting fitness.

8. They look cute, even in death. Remember, you have just slaughtered Mickey and all his family.

So there you have it. I'm off now to find a "Mission Accomplished" banner I can hang prematurely over the front door before cracking the champagne and then going back to the battle to capture the remaining forces of oppression.