Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wouldn't It Be Funny If . . .

Or, The Curious Adventures of the Broken Car Key

A few months ago the plastic part on the top of my car key broke. The key still works fine, but I can no longer connect it to my key fob. This has turned out to be more of a problem than originally anticipated.

Let's first discuss the trip back from my family reunion in Albuquerque. Things were going along fine, at first. And then, as I turned on the cruise control and moved foot off the brake, the hazard lights suddenly began blinking. This freaked me out a bit, and I quickly turned the cruise control off and stepped on the gas to see if it would help. It did -- the hazard lights turned off as suddenly as they'd begun. Things were fine for another 20 minutes or so. And then the hazard lights began flashing again. I didn't have the cruise control on this time, but I started to think that maybe there was something going on with the electrical system, so I turned off the air conditioning and the stereo. This seemed to solve the problem, at least temporarily. But soon enough, there were those hazards again. They began going off more and more often, as I kept trying to make adjustments to see what would help. And then another problem popped up. As I was passing someone, my horn suddenly started honking repeatedly. I tapped it, and it shut off. But maybe 15 minutes later, it started honking again, and this time I couldn't get it to turn off for probably a full minute.

Early on in these difficulties, I said that I hoped this wouldn't be so serious that we'd need to stop and have someone look at the car, since I'd rather have my own trusty mechanic look at it. And I mentioned one of the benefits with my mechanic: if it turned out that I was just being an idiot -- like, say, the time I drove around with my window down for a whole month because I thought the mechanism wasn't functioning, and it turned out the window was just locked -- he'd tell me, in the nicest way possible, that there was nothing actually wrong with the car, rather than making something up and charging me to fix an imaginary problem. Wouldn't it be funny, I thought, if this turned out to be something equally stupid.

Some time later, after making frantic phone calls to my parents and to some relatives who lived down the road, I suddenly started connecting the dots. There were only two weird things going on: the hazard lights blinking and the horn honking repetitively. And these two things have one main thing in common: the panic button. Because my key was broken, only the key itself was in the ignition, while the key fob was in my pant pocket, being jostled every time I moved my leg to, say, let off on the gas when I turned on the cruise control. Although the horn and the hazards weren't going off at the same time like you'd expect, it still seemed like there was probably a connection here. So, to test it out, I pulled the key fob out of my pocket and put it somewhere safe. Sure enough, it was smooth sailing from then on. And we had a very nice visit with the relatives. I was also glad that I solved this mystery before bothering my mechanic once again with my stupidity, even though he's very nice about it.

This was the most dramatic problem, but I've had much more trouble with misplacing my keys recently, now that they're not all connected. That car key is also kind of slippery, so I've dropped it in countless places. Luckily, I've always heard it fall and been able to retrieve it immediately. I have not always found it so easily when it's been lost, however.

A few weeks ago, I lost my key and couldn't find it anywhere. I ended up pulling out my spare key and using that. Just a month ago, one of my college roommates reminded me of the time I lost my dorm key for about a month and then found it, quite by happenstance, in my backpack. With this story in mind, I searched my backpack for my car key, thinking that it would be funny if I'd managed to lose my key in my backpack again. But I had no luck.

And then today, while walking out of the church building with a friend, I realized that the key I'd just pulled out of my purse was my regular car key, not the spare I thought I was going to see. It took me quite by surprise. When I looked in my purse later, though, I now couldn't find the spare. And then I remembered that I'd gotten this key from my backpack earlier in the morning. I wondered if possibly I just hadn't realized that it was the regular key when I retrieved it from the backpack. Sure enough, the spare turned out to still be in my backpack. So yes, I apparently did lose my key in my backpack for a substantial amount of time yet again.

They say those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it. I remember it all right, but despite my best efforts I seem to have a knack for repeating my more stupid moments. It's a gift.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

the jinx

(If you're also one of my facebook friends, sorry for the repeat.)

This morning, I sliced my finger open on a can lid, dropped most of the band-aids in the toilet while dripping blood all over the bathroom, and went to work without my badge, which meant I had to wait in line at the metal detector and wear a visitor nametag. (Incidentally, the security guard who looked at my driver's license did not just verify my name. He was seriously reading everything on there. I felt like asking him if he was planning on sending me a birthday card or something.)

As I reflected on my misfortunes, I thought to myself, "Wow, this really was not my morning. Well, it could have been worse. At least I didn't burn the house down." As soon as I had this thought, I realized the folly of thinking such things and immediately tried to mentally retract this thought so that I wouldn't jinx myself.

And, I think I half succeeded -- although I apparently also forgot to turn the oven off this morning, the house is still intact. Just really, really hot.

It's too bad my mental ability to jinx myself is so much stronger than my mental ability to actually think and not do dumb things in the morning.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


This might just be funny to genetics nerds, but it made me laugh.

For some great hypotheses about the modes of inheritance that could explain this pattern, see the blog comments on the Volokh Conspiracy.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

something to read

I've been on a Jane Austen kick this month, and today I came across some of her work that I'd never read before. It's a parody of a history book that she wrote for her sister at the age of fifteen, and it made me laugh. Here's a sample:

Henry the 4th

Henry the 4th ascended the throne of England much to his own satisfaction in the year 1399, after having prevailed on his cousin & predecessor Richard the 2nd to resign it to him, & to retire for the rest of his Life to Pomfret Castle, where he happened to be murdered. It is to be supposed that Henry was married, since he had certainly four sons, but it is not in my power to inform the Reader who was his Wife. Be this as it may, he did not live for ever, but falling ill, his son the Prince of Wales came and took away the crown; whereupon the King made a long speech, for which I must refer the Reader to Shakespear's Plays, & the Prince made a still longer. Things being thus settled between them the King died, & was succeeded by his son Henry who had previously beat Sir William Gascoigne.

You can access the whole thing from this link.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Have you ever looked at a person in a wheelchair and thought, "Why is life so unfair sometimes?"

I just did. I thought, "Why can't I be in a wheelchair? I'm too tired to keep walking home. Why does that person get a motorized wheelchair and I don't? Life's not fair!"

Hopefully this will not cause karmic retribution like joking about people with turf toe did.

Monday, January 18, 2010

how to obtain help in life (without even trying)

Today's helpful hint is a way of getting people to volunteer to help you without ever having to ask them. I discovered this quite by accident last night, but I think it should prove very effective in the future as well.*

Here's what you do: Simply describe the activity you need help with in such a way that people will not want to to miss out on seeing you attempt it. The following sample conversation may give you some guidance as you attempt to incorporate this technique into your own life.

Friend 1: Hey Cindy, what are you plans for the holiday tomorrow?

Cindy: Well, I'm going to replace the wax seal on the base of my toilet.

Friend 1: How do you do that? Just put it around the bottom?

Cindy: Not exactly. You see, first I've got to go to the hardware store to get myself a hacksaw. Then, after hacking and sawing off the bolts that hold the toilet onto the floor, I'll pick the toilet up and flip it upside down. I'll put the wax seal on the bottom, grab the toilet and flip it back right-side up, and put it back in place. And, that's basically it.

Friend 1: Um, okay. I hope I don't get a phone call from the elder's quorum tomorrow asking for help stopping a major flood in your house.

Cindy: Oh, I don't think that'll be a problem. It's more likely that I'll accidentally hack a limb off or get crushed by the toilet when I try to flip it over.

Friend 2: Can I come watch!?! I mean, help?

*Results may vary. Nice friends are required. Favorable results may be more difficult to obtain if you are not a hapless female known for doing things like giving yourself a concussion just by opening a door.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

next up, Everest

Today I achieved a life-long goal.

That's right -- I won a game of Hearts with a grand total of 0 points in the end. Check it out:

And all while I was being distracted by the Prabhas DVD I was half-watching.

I think I'll celebrate by fixing the toilet I was supposed to start working on when I got up seven hours ago.