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Time: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

August 15, 2008 by in category Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as

By Marianne H. Donley
I love clocks. I have wind up analogue clocks that chime every fifteen minutes, a KitKat Clock with red sequined eyes and a moving tail that acts like a pendulum, battery clocks that are boring but accurate, atomic clocks that know when to change to daylight-saving time without me telling them to do so, and, of course, digital clocks on the microwave, cable box and computer screen. With one or two exceptions they all report different times.
It starts in my bedroom where we have matching digital clocks on matching night stands. The old guy’s clock reads ten minutes faster than my clock. He sets it that way on purpose. Every morning when HIS clock says 6:30 and mine says 6:20 he shuts the alarm off BEFORE it rings. Then he goes back to sleep.
I poke him and say, “Time to get up.”
He says, “No, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
I say, “Why do you set it early?”
He says, “So, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
This makes no sense to me. He knows the clock is ten minutes fast. Why doesn’t he set the clock for the correct time and then set the alarm for ten minutes early? As much as I like math (and I really do–be careful I’ve been know to prove the square root of two is irrational with little provocation!) I don’t want to do arithmetic at 6:20 in the morning. In addition, he is legally blind without his contacts on, no joke. So he can’t even see the clock until he gets up and gets dressed. And, not to belabor the point, he turns the alarm off BEFORE it rings, so why does he even need to set the alarm?
Moving down to the family room we have the mantle clock, an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime, Seth Thomas, my sister, Rosemary, gave to me as an engagement/Christmas present. No matter how many times I set it or fiddle with the +/- lever in the back, it runs about two minutes slow. This doesn’t really bother me. The clock is thirty something and has survived my kids, my nieces and nephews, and now my grand kids trying to see how it works. I figure it’s entitled to be a little slow. This drives the old guy nuts. He complains about it nearly every day which is why I keep fiddling with it.

In the dinning room we have an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime that my brother, Michael, made for my son, David’s wedding. We hung the clock when David and his family moved in with us. It doesn’t work because someone (I’m not naming names, but it wasn’t me) set the time by moving the hands counterclockwise. We’ve taken the clock to a variety of clock repair guys who have told us a variety of tall tales as to why it doesn’t work, including one guy who said it needed to be cleaned to the tune of three hundred dollars and one who wanted to replace its expensive movement with a cheap battery operated one.
My KitKat Clock didn’t survive the move from California whole. One of the mover guys misplaced his tail (on purpose I suspect as I had to take the clock off the wall twice and hand it to the guy when he said everything was packed). I hung KitKat in the solarium anyway, and his red sequined eyes still move with the time. But without his tail, he doesn’t have quite the noble bearing he did before. He keeps pretty good time as long as he is perfectly balanced. Dust his pretty face and he’s likely to stop ticking completely until I get the level out. My five-year-old grandson would like the clock to completely disappear because KitKat has scary little eyes. When he visits, I think poor tailless KitKat will have to live in the basement for a while.Now here are two time related tasks for you.

Task One: Go look at an advertisement for clocks or watches. You can use a newspaper or even the Internet. What time is it in most of the ads? Do you have any idea why?Task Two: A Westminster Chime clock, chimes four times at quarter past the hour, eight times at half passed, twelve times at quarter to the hour and sixteen times at the hour PLUS one extra chime for each hour (so at 6 am the clock will chime twenty-two times). How many chimes will that be for this whole year? (I warned you about the math.)

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Moving . . .

July 16, 2008 by in category Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as

Marianne H. Donley

We bought a beautiful new house. . .in Pennsylvania. The move have been in the works for awhile, well over a year. But giving the housing market we were a little stunned when things actually worked out. Yet, finally on July 3, at 11:30 PM the movers left and we were officially in our new house.

That’s when we found out we bought a Blonde House . . . she’s lovely to look at but frankly not very intelligent.

First we noticed the windows in the bathrooms were not that practical. Long, beautiful pane windows with cute window toppers, they all have sills about two feet off the floor. Something we failed to notice until one of the neighbors waved when I walked into the downstairs bathroom. I quickly hung towels ups and vowed to get blinds first thing in the morning.

Then it was the washing machine –brand new, just hooked up days before. I watched the worker guys take the wrapping off and hand me the instruction booklets. Okay, it was plugged in. Dennis hooked up the water hoses and I stared my first load of laundry (the movers used our all our linens to pack dusty books from the garage). The machine took off walking, then running out of the laundry room and down the hall. We shut the thing off mid-cycle, rung out the sheets and went to look for a laundry mat. The next day, Dennis poured over the washer and figured out the packing screws and styrofoam hadn’t been removed.

The fridge had an ice maker in it, but no ice. Dennis pulled it out to see if they had “forgot” to hook up the water line. It was worse than that, there was no water line. So we have a refrigerator with an ice maker, but no way to use it. We decided a lot of stuff in this house were here just because they looked good, not because we could actually use them.

Our dishwasher confirmed that. Not only was it not attached to the counter, there was no outlet to plug the thing into. It looked really nice, though. So did the stainless steel sink until I did my first load of dishes by hand. Now it has a variety of little scratches all over the bottom. I suspect I wasn’t supposed to actually use the sink, but with no dishwasher . . .

I didn’t quite know what to make of the kitchen cupboards. I can’t tell you how beautiful they are, all different shapes and sizes, some with glass fronts. But very few of my dishes actually fit in the “different sizes” a glass here, pan there, but heck I have enough dishes to feed my extended family (and the OCC board). One plate per shelf didn’t get many dishes, put away. I had to finally throw out a bunch of plastic bowls that just didn’t fit anywhere.

We’re really in the county here. We have a well and a septic system. Unfortunately, according to the builder, Mr. Septic is very temperamental. How did builder guy put it? Mr. Septic doesn’t wish to deal with anything that hasn’t been digested first. No liquid from that left over chicken soup, that last drop of coffee or melted ice cream, unless of course, it had been processed by humans first. When I asked builder guy what I was supposed to do with left over chicken soup he suggested starting a compose heap. I quote: “If you cover your wet waste with lawn clippings you won’t have very many flies.” The dishwasher is to be used only once a day and the washing machine (when it’s not running down the hall) twice. I was mildly surprised we didn’t have a flushing schedule.

Then there is the other trash. This is an issue as we also don’t have trash pick up. Our township does have a free to residents dump, open every Tuesday and half day Saturday, but no green trash trucks rumbling around. They don’t accept lawn clippings or building material or old furniture.

Our office was the last surprise. The room is just stunning. It is spacious enough to hold all my bookcases, both my desk and Dennis’s. It has hardwood floors, wainscoting, crown molding and French doors. But no cable outlet. There are cable outlets in every bedroom, including two in the master and one in the garage, but not in the office where I want to work and access the Internet via a cable modem. I put all the books in the book cases and took them out again to check each wall twice. Because I just couldn’t believe there wasn’t an outlet in the office. We now have a modem and wireless router sitting on top of the TV set in the family room. It’s not exactly an elegant solution, but it’s way better than dial up.

I have to admit that we have a solarium (and just saying that is very cool!). I can sit in the solarium at dusk and watch the fireflies dance across the lawn. Those twenty or so minutes are just a bit magical. They make up for quite a few of our Blonde’s missing smarts.

Marianne H. Donley writes quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her supportive husband Dennis and two lovable but bad dogs. Her grown children have respectfully asked her to use a pen name which she declined on the grounds that even if some of their more colorful misdeeds make it into her plots, who would know the books are fiction. Besides they weren’t exactly worried about publicly humiliating her while growing up.

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Dad Jokes

June 15, 2008 by in category Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as

by Marianne H. Donley

I collect Dad Jokes. These are not jokes about dads, but are jokes that dads everywhere tell little kids. Dad Jokes have three things in common:

1. They’re G-rated.
2. They’re lame.
3. You laugh anyway, even years later.

My own dad had a good supple of Dad Jokes starting with “What’s black and white and red all over?” His answer varied according to the age of audience, preschool or kindergarten aged kids got “newspaper” and older kids got “sunburned zebra.” Either way gales of laughter would follow, which fascinated me even as a little kid. Let’s face it, that joke is so old most children are probably born knowing it.

But that joke wasn’t the one that cracked me up. My favorite Dad Joke is (and this is really dating me):

“What”s black and blue, lays in the grass and goes ding-dong?”
“A wounded Avon lady.”

My bothers and sisters and I all went to Catholic school so a close second is:

“What’s black and white, black and white, black and white and black and blue?”
“A nun falling down stairs.”

I should note that we were under strict orders from our mom NOT to tell that joke at school. I am fairly certain that was an order my brother Michael just couldn’t follow, that joke spread though St. Anne’s like wild fire. This was well before the days of “zero tolerance” in our schools where every thing a child says is examined for possible homicidal intent, so no one got expelled as a result. However, it has not escaped my notice that there is a more polite version floating around these days, but I can’t think “a penguin falling down stairs” would have the same humor impact on Catholic school children.

My husband has a pretty good supple of Dad Jokes as well. Our sons still laugh at both:

“Why does an elephant paint his toenails red?”
“To hide in a cherry tree.”

“How can you tell if there’s an elephant in the refrigerator?”
“There are footprints in the butter.”

Our daughter’s favorite Dad Joke was told to her by her Uncle Paul. I know if I just mention this joke she, at age 26, will start laughing. So:

“Want to hear a dirty joke?”
“A white horse fell in the mud.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Marianne H. Donley writes quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in California with her supportive husband Dennis and two loveable but bad dogs. Her grown children have respectfully asked her to use a pen name which she declined on the grounds that even if some of their more colorful misdeeds make it into her plots, who would know the books are fiction. Besides they weren’t exactly worried about publicly humiliating her while growing up.

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