Friday Frivolity: Dollhouse Sequel

If you happen to be one of the folks who bought my first book…Laughing at Life…then you would be familiar with the “Dollhouse” story.  Well, 20 years later, here’s a sequel.

Sue has done some improvements to the dollhouse over the past 20 years.  Now she has decided to put a lot more concentrated effort into finish it.  Although I have some doubts as to when any particular point her decorating could be considered “finished”, I do know that she is very intent on sweeping improvements the past several weeks.

Of course, you do know that this is a typically scaled dollhouse.  It is not miniature.  But it’s not exactly a size easy to assemble with 70 year old eyesight either.  Even when she finishes the grandfather clock, I won’t be able to tell the time from more a foot away.

Before I expound on the clock, I want to back up to the bed she assembled last week.  The bed needed a string matrix to rest the mattress on.  Even though it is her project, she does ask for my assistance at times.  Drilling holes for the strings was her request.  From the directions which came with the kit, she advised me of the size of the drill bit along with a template of the hole spacing.

Now, I have a very comprehensive collection of drill bits.  I’ve got some that are large enough for a prehistoric dentist to drill out cavities of a Wooly Mammoth—if such a hook-toothed monster would have complained to a human.  I also have drill bits small enough to hide in dust if I drop it on my work bench.  But I did not have one of the size described in the instructions.

I opted for the smallest that I did have.  I took out my cordless Milwaukee drill and set the bit in the chuck.  With the jaws of the chuck fully clamped, the bit was not.  Yes, I know, most every store selling these furniture kits also sell “Miniature Tools”.  Pllleeeze…80 bucks for a tool box containing a drill that couldn’t cut through anything tougher than balsa?

But wait.  I have a Dremel that should chuck up this tiny bit.  It did.  With success of that aspect of drilling, I am next faced with the challenge of my spastic hands aligning a bit I cannot see with the marks on the template which are larger than the bit size.  Wonderful.  How could I possibly miss on the spacing when there’s a built-in error factor of 25% within the template marks.  Sue was happy enough to ask for my assistance on another miniature-home improvement project.  She’ll surely be happy with the hole if I erase the pencil mark after I almost hit it with the bit.

Yup, she was pleased so, on to the clock I mentioned previously.  And it also involved holes. I’d already put the Dremel away and dropped the bit.  If I had intended it to wedge into the crack on my workbench, I would have failed. But there is was…scale-wise about like a flag pole in the St. Andreas Fault.  I couldn’t get my smallest screwdriver into the crack.  It’s a good thing Sue didn’t need me to drill holes in the clock.

The holes were pre-drilled but she was getting frustrated trying to install the clocks weights into the drive box. Allow me to assist you in getting the picture of this procedure.  First of all, even if I scanned THEIR picture at 200% you would be hard pressed to note the variance between the weight’s “chain link” and the pre-drilled hole.

Have you seen the Tupperware, Child’s toy Ball of shapes and pieces to put in them.  Kids can eventually learn to fit shapes into the appropriate openings. Because their hands are tiny like the clock pieces, I suspect they would proudly announce “It doesn’t fit, Grandma.” Grandma on the other hand…which are noticeably humongous trying to grip minuscule chains, are much slower to recognize that oblong chains do not easily fit into round holes.

Adult get frustrated and mumble things kids should not hear.  Keep in mind the ROUND holes are there…somewhere, and the OBLONG links are not big enough to go over a mosquito’s head—BUT THEY STILL DON’T FIT…and I don’t have any oblong drill bits.

After a half dozen failed attempts to glue them ‘close’ to the holes, Sue finally decided to forget the weights.  After all, you can’t see them unless you open the door.  And the knob on the door is comparable to a pin-head. Guaranteed: If I were to reach into the dollhouse living room to show off the clock-works, I might utter “Fe, Fi, Fo, fumble”.  Nobody’s ever going to see the clock doesn’t work.

Friday Frivolity: In my Opinion

Ouch…oooh, that doesn’t feel good.  I think I’ve pulled an index finger muscle.  Oh, no…maybe I’ve got mouse-click-induced carpal tunnel.  It is not surprising considering I’ve clicked my way through about a dozen on-line surveys this  week.  By golly, one of these days, I’m gonna win a $1000 gift card.  I wonder if it will be redeemable for a wrist brace.

It seems like almost every retailer now has a link to a survey on their receipt.  Some have instant coupons, but most entice you to their survey with a chance to win.  Beats me why I sucker for that 1-in-a-bazillion chance.  But then, there really isn’t any other good reason to do it.

I rarely take the survey to actually help the store improve.  Generally, I only take the survey to be eligible for the sweepstakes.  Did you know that you cannot participate in any of these sweepstakes where they are prohibited by law?  Darn, that takes most of the fun out of it.

Oh, and don’t forget the carte blanche permissiveness of most sweepstakes:  No purchase necessary.  Seriously?   Now you tell me, where can I get postage stamps without purchasing them?  Yup, you can ONLY enter the sweepstakes two ways.  On-line, with a valid “purchase receipt” …or by mail, if you don’t make a purchase at the sweepstake sponsor’s store.  Last I knew, the postman will not deliver an entry which has no purchased postage stamp on the envelope.

In case you have not read any sweepstake rules lately—and most of them are boilerplate—here’s a couple which I believe are extremely important.

You must be 18 years, or older, to enter.  Oh, but wait…if you are, in fact, under 18, and happen to win a sweepstake prize, your mom can sign your “affidavit of eligibility.”   Excuse me?  I’d have to do more research to be sure, but this sounds like it’s bordering on prohibited by law in most jurisdictions of the United States.

Reading the rules further, I find the ultimate, superfluous, caveat.  If for any reason, including but not limited to, misdirected, mutilated, unintelligible, written, telephone, or electronic communication;  hardware or software program failure;  network or computer malfunction …or for that matter…failure or difficulties of any kind; your entry will be declared invalid.  Whoa, hold it there!  Ya mean, if y’all don’t get my entry, cain’t read it, or it mysteriously rockets into cyberspace, it taint no good?

Oh, yeah, and “Any prize notification returned as ‘undeliverable’ may result in forfeiture.”  May result in forfeiture?  Hmmm, summarizing:  A 16-year-old, running from the law with no forwarding address who tosses their entry in the gutter, may not win?

With all of this in mind, you might imagine that I often succumb to filling out the surveys rather flippantly.  In addition to the aforementioned superfluous rules, some of the questions within the survey itself are hardly applicable to most of my shopping experiences.  Here are some thoughts that reverberated in my skull while filling out a particular retailer’s survey.

How would you rate your overall shopping experience?  Hmm, how to answer this rather limited question?  I didn’t go into the store to buy overalls, only a tube of glue.   Even if I did want clothing, what’s with the gradient of choices between 1 and 5?  All they needed were two options…succeeded or failed.  You know what?  If they really wanted a valid survey, they should give out receipts for failed shopping ventures.  Yeah, the greeter could hand out an Exit Interview form saying “good bye” to empty-handed shoppers at departure.   “Sorry you couldn’t find anything to buy, but here’s a dissatisfaction receipt with a chance to win a gift card.”

Was there a sufficient selection for you to choose from?   I obviously bought the item I was shopping for, so apparently the store having one in stock was sufficient.  And again, why five  choices from which to choose—5, being Highly Satisfied…1, Not Satisfied.  I have always done better with true/false tests than multiple choice.  Either I am or am not satisfied.  Furthermore, by virtue of the fact that I’m taking this survey on-line, the question is moot.  I bought something that resulted in me getting the coded receipt to access this survey, so the selection had to be sufficient.

Was the merchandise arranged in a way that made it fun to shop?  Fun?  I went to buy a tube of glue.  Though I use glue in a well ventilated room, I suppose someone who sniffs glue for “fun” would likely rate this question a lot higher than I did if the store would have some bags and glue samples in a private sniffing room.  That’s just not going to happen though.  Even a long-since-teenaged geezer like me has to validate my age before the self-checkout will allow my purchase of glue…and it better not be open.

How would you rate the price-to-value of the item(s) purchased?  A tube of glue?  When was the last time you comparison shopped for glue?  Besides, how could I be sure of its value this soon after purchase?

Considering your checkout experience, was the employee considerate of your time (1, extremely pleased to 5, unsatisfactory)?  Oh, boy, that’s really not so tough to choose between 1 and 5.  I mean, a “5” would probably be they scanned the glue and tossed it to me.  Conversely, I’d surely rate it a “1” if they read the infinitesimally small print, warning label to me.  The best and worst are relatively easy.

But how do you know if it’s a “2,” “3” or a “4” when they ask if I want a bag or not.  There are so many ramifications to accepting a bag.  My contemplation over whales, recycling and ozone alone, can usurp lots of my valuable time. It’s a very quick slide from a “2” to a “4” rating.

But, the most fun for me is the demographic questions at the end of the survey.  I like to skew the marketing profile.  For one of the surveys I submitted this week, I checked that I was single, had 12 children under the age of 18 and an income under $15,000.

Hmmm, now that I think about it, answering like that probably ruined my chances at the $1000 gift card.

Friday Frivolity: Full Disclosure

First Disclosure:  I would like to get just ONE order for one of my “Laughing…” books as a result of my Friday Frivolity blogs.  I’ve been blogging stories for almost 5 years and have not had even one measly order for a book from a blog.  I’m going to discontinue this blog very soon and would like to finally get an order.  I’ll even offer free shipping…just comment to this story with your e-address.

Second Disclosure:  This particular story, “Full Disclosure” is from Laughing While Shopping

Ever read the small print on a package?  It’s getting more distressing for me as the years wear on.  Oh sure, it’s troubling because of my diminishing eyesight, but also from diminished capacity to understand the rationale for much of the small print.   Such was certainly the case when we left a major home improvement store.

It wasn’t that long ago that I’d go buy bolts and nuts out of bins.  Yup, I’m old enough to remember hardware stores on the corner.  Those neighborhood proprietors would stock fasteners in ceiling-to-floor walls of drawers, drop-down wooden bins or stave & hoop barrels.  If you are  too young to remember those barrels, they’re arched slats held together by steel bands—mostly used today as decorative planters spilling dirt and bloom into the yard.  Back in my adolescent years, my grandpa often took me to the hardware store where he’d grab what he needed from a barrel or bin, toss it in a paper sack and proceed to the cashier.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t all that long ago and there still are a few hometown hardware stores. However, I think those days of buy only what you need are gone.  Today, such hardware items are in baggies, shrink wrap or blister packs.  Yesterday…not yesteryear…Sue and I bought a pair of brass machine screws and two plastic nuts and washers all neatly packaged in a plastic bag.

I was happy we found exactly what I needed.  Often the marketing of such items is seemingly packaged with the intent of overstocking.  Not their shelves…my storage bins!  Nevertheless, most of my family would testify that overstocking my storage bins is my delight, not my displeasure.

But, I digress from my story.  These were packaged precisely sufficient for my need.

I guess Sue was bored as we drove away.  In itself, that’s quite disparaging as to my ability to entertain her.  Aside from that, she likes to read.  First she read the shocking news that I had not purchased a toy.  Ahhhh, more precisely, the BAG which contained the nuts and bolts was not a toy.

Aw, gee whiz, …and to think I almost bought a dozen bolts just to get enough bags to fill with beans for my bean-bag-toss game.  Oh rats, they went on to nix the thought of refilling the bag in Warning Number 2.  Once I had removed the hardware, I could not refill the bag with anything.  No beans, no rice, no dinner leftovers…nothin’.

Before I could recover from this no recycle for personal use caveat, Sue continued with even more distressing, specifically-stated cautions.  Would you believe we can’t use the empty bag in a baby’s crib?  For what purpose?  You’d have to staple a hundred of them together to make a sheet.  Of course… there was at least some temptation…the packaging was a delightful baby blue.

Oh, but there’s more about this simple little purchase that annoyed me.  I fully realize the diverse ethnicity in the United States has caused lots of things today to be printed in multiple languages.   That fact doesn’t trouble me.  Predictably, the package’s Identifications, Features, and Instructions were in both English and Spanish.  No big deal.

What, then, was so abrasive to me?  The Warnings, which I just highlighted as foolishness, were only in English.   Apparently the packagers figured only Anglo-Saxon descendants would be dumb enough to toss all their scrap plastic bags into a kid’s playpen.

Hold on…, don’t toss this book in the basket just yet.  The worst is yet to come.  As Sue neared the end of her perusal of the bag, she exclaimed:  “Ohhhh… My… Goodness!  Ed, we’ve got to keep this bag.”

You do remember that I mentioned Sue reading thou shalt not keep the bag for any purpose.   I will testify without duress, Sue is not predisposed to disobedience.  Okay …alright …if the truth be known, she does indeed tear off all the “Do Not Remove under penalty of law” tags.  However, such actions are mitigated by trying to satisfy some residual teenage rebellious attitude still swirling in her head.  But, why would she suggest we save a tiny, plastic, perforated, non-zip-lock baggie in flagrant violation of regulations clearly stipulated…in ENGLISH?  The answer lies in the producer:   Keeney Mfg. Co.

For those of you who are not aware of Sue’s heritage, she began life as a Keeney.

See, I told you the implications of small print are often very perplexing to me.