Monday, June 30, 2008

Too Soon for the Tooth Fairy!

Look at this!
I still can't believe it. Mighty B. won't be five for another month and a half. What's he doing losing teeth already?

Yesterday, The Oracle let's Mighty B. call me on the phone to brag about his loose teeth. Loose teeth? What did you do to them? I'm thinking he knocked himself in the mouth and that we'd better get our butts to the dentist.

Nope. Precious Daughter and I arrive home from a bit of shopping, and B's bottom two choppers are as wobbly as can be. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't even see the "gap-osis" developing between those two wobbly teeth and the ones to the right and left, a sure-fire sign that something's gonna fall out.

Within an hour or two, he had worked them furiously and pulled one out by himself. I sent him to the bathroom to swish and spit, and I can see that it's neighbor was hanging by a thread. (My gums itch just thinking about it.) With his permission and without even flinching, I yanked the other tooth.

That night he went to bed with two teeth in a Ziploc under his pillow and a warning that the Tooth Fairy might not be so generous since he yanked them out before they were ready, that (s)he likes kids to wait until they're just about out on their own.

Today he awoke (at 6:00 a.m.!!) cheering about the four shiny-gold dollar coins (two bucks per tooth) and the Spiderman toothbrush under his pillow. The Fairy let him off with a warning.

(On a side note, please ignore my ugly pink-and-black bathroom!)

- - - - - - - -

As for my 'puter, I'm still waiting for the new adapter. The Oracle jury-rigged my current so it still gets juice, and if I don't move it the power brick doesn't get hot. As long as that thing stays cool, I don't fear frying my computer. I still can't take it anywhere, but at least I can get a little work done.

I took The Oracle's computer to our favorite shop to see what was going on inside. The guy tells me his motherboard is burned out. Drat. It's five years old, and The Oracle's been talking about building a new one. Still, this desktop has served us well.

- - - - - - - -

On my car, the estimator was supposed to look my car over Friday. Well, I call for status today, and they tell me the guy was out sick Friday, so he's supposed to look my car over between 8:00 and 4:00 today.

I bit down hard on my tongue because I realize that the person giving me this information isn't at fault. I did my part. I took my car to a collision center the minute State Farm gave the go-ahead.

I laugh when I think that we were considering a switch to State Farm from our current insurer, Nationwide. So far, I am not happy with State Farm. I got hit on a Monday, and I wasn't able to get my butt into a rental until Wednesday, and my car still waits for a claims adjustor on Monday. It's been a week, people!!!

Nationwide's claim service has been fast, with an estimate the next business day and a check within 48 hours of the estimate. Maybe this girl hitting me was a good thing, because I'm getting firsthand experience with how State Farm treats its potential customers.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Computer Withdrawal

My AC adapter/charger for my laptop has died, and the earliest I'll get a new one is Tuesday.

Adding insult to injury is that The Oracle's desktop decided to call out sick as well, so the only computer access I have is limited to roughly one remaining hour of battery life.

I can't work on my transcripts, I can't email, read blogs, play on YouTube. What am I going to do with myself until Tuesday?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Auto Accident - The Rental

Not much to report except that it took the girl's insurance company a day and a half to call me after I phoned them. Their plan of attack basically involved me taking my car to a service center, then their estimate, and then I get my rental.

Um, no. I told the woman I spoke with that I absolutely must have a car, and she sort of blew me off until I alluded to the magic words, "lost wages," by politely telling her that I am self-employed, that my work requires travel to different locations, and each day I can't work is a day I can't earn money. Their at-fault driver (and so they) would be responsible for those losses as well.

"Okay, Mrs. Burbage, I'm approving you for an intermediate-sized rental."

"What kind of car is 'intermediate-sized'?"

"It depends on who you go through. Each company defines it differently."

"Okay," I said, "because my husband is 6'6" and doesn't fit into most cars. Believe me, if we could shoehorn ourselves into a Prius, we would have bought one with gas prices the way they are."

You know, I didn't used to be this way. It used to be that I agreed and complied and did what they said with nary a peep. What the heck happened to me? How did I get to be so ornery? Their driver took me out of my super-roomy crossover, and now I'm being asked to squash my family of four (two of us in booster seats) into an "intermediate-sized" vehicle. If it's anything like the loaner Toyota we had during warranty work on our Explorer, that simply wasn't going to work.

The State Farm lady wouldn't budge on vehicle size, though, so I selfishly took it up with the collision center.

After much flip-flopping, I decided to have my car repaired at non-State-Farm-approved dealership because it's so new and still under warranty. Well, it's actually under warranty forever because we bought the mega-super-ultra extended warranty. We're not the sort of people who need a new car every few years. We drive them until they can't be driven any longer. With that in mind, I wasn't going to put it in the hands of anyone else and risk voiding my extended warranty.

For the sake of convenience I decided to use the dealer's rental service. One-stop shopping, right? I spoke with the woman there, explained my plight and the fact that my warranty contract would normally include a rental anyway, and managed to get myself into a Crown Victoria.

It's a nice-enough car, but I want my Pacifica back. I hope they don't drag their feet on this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It Was Only a Matter of Time

I said it right here in the second-to-last paragraph. If I loved driving whatever car we bought, I'd end up getting in a wreck. This afternoon as I was on my way to get the kids, I got rear-ended as I sat at a red traffic light.

Thankfully, I am not hurt thus far, just a little tightness in my upper-middle back between the shoulders. Thankfully, my kids weren't in the car with me. I suspect they would have been fine, but the half hour or more that it took for the police to arrive would have left me with two cranky, starving, sunbaked kids.

Much like one of those little psycho dogs that must challenge the slobbering, Cujo-type Saint Bernard next door, our substantially-sized Pacifica was attacked by a little Dodge Neon. I don't know how or why its 19-ish driver didn't see me stopped there, but she whacked me hard enough to knock my exhaust system askew, and she thoroughly mangled the front end of her car. I suspect her car is a total loss.

All those years in 9-1-1, and who did I call first? I called the House Fairy to let him know I was delayed and why. DUH. Why didn't I call 9-1-1 first? I sort of noticed that nobody exited the car that hit me, and I came to my senses and cut off the call before it connected. I went back to check on the driver, and she met me at the rear bumper. We pulled off to the shoulder, and I dialed 9-1-1 instead. A witness stopped and gave me her information.

I can see on the display that my 9-1-1 call connects, but why isn't it ringing, and why is nobody answering? It took me two attempts to remember I was wearing my "Bluetool" headset (an Oracle term) before the hit. She whacked me hard enough to knock it off my ear, and my nerves were rattled enough that I didn't even notice its absence. DUH. I found it under the gas pedal and turned it off.

I call 9-1-1, I call the House Fairy. The House Fairy calls The Oracle and initiates a string of calls to my cell phone that I don't want to answer until I calm down this poor kid who hit me. I needed to calm myself, too, but focusing on her miseries made that easier to do. I think she thought I was going to throttle her or something, and I confess that probably would have been the case if my family were in the car.

The girl tells me her cellular battery is dead, and I had to clamp my mental teeth down upon my cynical imagination as I handed the girl my cell phone so she can call: Work, boyfriend, dad, uncle, mom of her passenger friend, and some other person she was supposed to meet or pick up. We exchange information and wait some more.

The policeman finally arrives and takes our paperwork and statements. Before disappearing into the air-conditioned comfort of his patrol car to write the report, he tells me my car is drivable. Huh? My tail pipe is dragging. Isn't it going to fall of and rain more misfortune upon my head? Nope, he says, "they're welded on" he says and not going anywhere.

The girl's uncle arrived just before the officer, and he used a bunch of those plastic zipper-type fastener things to lift my tailpipe off the ground.

The Oracle calls again and starts venting about this new mess. I understand he's upset, but I really have nothing to offer, partly because I don't want to say anything negative in front of the other driver. Whatever her reasons for not seeing me there, I know she didn't set out this afternoon with, "I think I'll rear-end somebody's brand-new car today."

Amid his flood of words is a typical Oracle question. "Did you start dinner?" I suspect that when The Oracle eventually presents himself to the Pearly Gates, his first request will involve directions to the buffet.

At almost 5:00 we're on our way, and I drove to my in-laws' to get the kids. The House Fairy replaces the plastic strips with baling wire, and I'm eventually on my way home. We arrive and The Oracle has cooked dinner, and I am utterly thankful for that because I am starving and sweaty stressed and really didn't feel like fiddling with a hot stove.

I am not looking forward to initiating the circus that is damage assessment and appraisal by my insurance company, but at least Nationwide pays fairly quickly. Thankfully, tomorrow's deposition is in the City and I can take the train.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Takin' Care of Business!

This was a big weekend for Precious Daughter. Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon were her performances in her dance studio's annual recital. This year's performance is a tapdance routine to the above song by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

First, I have to say that I am a stage mommy with absolutely NO skills when it comes to hair or makeup, and my poor kid has to depend upon me to make her look presentable and meet the dance studio's requirements.

Last year, they insisted that the girls in Precious Daughter's group have curls for their Shirley-Temple-ish performance of "Animal Crackers." God knew what he was doing when he gave me a child with poker-straight hair, because I don't have the temperament to deal with curly hair, even though I know I'd never make my daughter endure the hair crimes visited upon me by my own mother. Precious Daughter endured two nights of me torturing her hair into curls, but by the Sunday performance she loudly protested, and I really couldn't argue. I sent her off to dance with a ponytail, and she was a much happier dancer.

This year, they wanted the kids' hair up in a bun. Okay, I thought. I can manage a bun. HA. My first attempts at making one consumed half a package of bobby pins and my daughter looked like she was wearing a porcupine on her head.

I ended up with a braided ponytail anchored to her head with several dozen bobby pins, and on dress-rehearsal night I sent her into the studio with her bobby-pinned bun and wearing more makeup than the average streetwalker. May I say that heavy makeup on a six-year-old is disturbing?

Dress rehearsal practice was a bit...disjointed. Precious Daughter did all right, though, and I felt she'd survive the performances, and she did, with each performance improving over the last.

I had an hour to snap these pictures outside the performance hall. I've mentioned before that I still bear the scars of a rather nasty punctuality problem. Somewhere along the line, my paranoid mind changed "The show starts at 2:00; get there at 1:00" to "The show starts at 1:00, so we have to be there by noon."

My poor kid doesn't stand a chance with a mother like me.

The next two photos picture Precious Daughter with her Aunt V (my sister) and Uncle R. And, yes, she has a smear of chocolate on her face. Aunt V. didn't like that and insisted upon a retake. (Thanks again for the flowers, Uncle R.! She has them right next to her bed!)

The trouble is, though, that Uncle R. wasn't included in the retake, and I didn't want to leave him out. What the heck, Precious Daughter is a kid, for crying out loud, and I'm not going to fuss over a little chocolate smear on her cheek, not after the weekend she's endured.

When the recital was over, she said, "Thank God I never have to wear this costume again."

And the next breath: "I wonder what next year's costume will be."

She wants to take hip-hop next year. So far. I asked her if she likes the music they play for hip-hop and she says, "not really." It's going to be an interesting year.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Prayers Needed for Toby

Toby Pannone, as you may have read before, is a sweet five-year-old who very recently was blessed with a diagnosis of "No Evidence of Disease" after a yearlong battle with neuroblastoma.

Yesterday he began a long series of scans due, in part, to a complaint of pain as well as preventive care. Neuroblastoma is vicious and relentless. Whatever prayers or positive thoughts or vibes or whatever you can send for Toby and his family are appreciated.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DEB's Wedding Ring

Shortly after DEB came home from the rehab facility, her wedding ring went missing. It was a lovely platinum band set with a row of diamonds, and she clearly took it off and hid it somewhere. She hid it so well it hasn't turned up, and we're sadly suspecting she wrapped in a tissue and discarded it.

What she wears today is a lightweight, diamond-cut, 14K band that she purchased on sale at K-Mart a good ten years ago. I'm not quite sure why she bought it, but I remember helping her pick it out. I think her reasons had something to do with not feeling secure wearing her platinum & diamond wedding ring to some place. It might have been a long flight to visit her daughter or some such thing. Whatever the reason, she bought the ring, wore it a week, and relegated it to the bottom of her jewelry box.

She sits at my kitchen table, twiddling the ring around her finger, and she tells fantastic tales about its origins.

It was once a baby's bracelet, sized down to fit her finger. She describes in detail how she watched a machine make this happen.

It was given to her by a jeweler as a "thank you" for courier work she did in her teens.

Her first husband shipped it to her during his WWII duty in Burma and describes how it almost didn't arrive with censored mail and rigors of shipping something into the U. S. from overseas.

Even more bizarre is how these tales morph into one another over the course of twenty minutes. It makes me wonder what truthful bits of her past are tied to the stories she attaches to a K-Mart ring.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Better than Any Burglar Alarm

My knuckleheaded dog, Duchess, (lovingly pronounced "Duuh-chess") pesters to be let outside, and then pesters to be let in.

Bark-bark-bark-bark. I am so sick of the barking. Worse yet, most of the time it's an annoying, high-pitched, yappy bark, and it hurts my ears.

I want to go out: "Bark!"
Let me in: "Bark. Bark. Bark." (Let. Me. In.)
Look! A deer/rabbit/squirrel/wiggly tree branch/car/bird: "Bark!Bark!Bark!"
Kid on wheels!!: BARRARRARK!
My toy rolled outside the fence: "WhineBark!”

Duuh-chess is a pure German shepherd. She has a wonderful, deep bark, but it seems she only saves it for the UPS guy, infrequent visitors, or whatever might go bump in the night.

A couple weeks ago we were visted by a young guy trying to make a living sales-pitching alarm systems door to door. I told the guy that I didn't need an alarm system; I had a German shepherd. He laughed and tried convincing me that glassbreak alarms and whatnots would benefit. After a fair amount of conversation, I agreed that I'd at least discuss a fire alarm system with The Oracle, because fire is one of my biggest fears, and I often wonder if my puny smoke detectors are enough. I took his number, company info, and email address. He went on his way and I promptly forgot about him. I didn't forget about him intentionally. I had every intention of talking with The Oracle, but -- well -- my memory sucks.

He called me a few nights later to follow up. Agh! Yes, I'll talk with him right now and get back to you. I talked with The Oracle, and we decided that another monthly bill wasn't a wise investment at the moment, and I left a message for the guy telling him so.

Last week, when it was still pleasant enough to leave the windows open, I'm blithely working on a transcript and my kids are staring with glazed eyes at the television. My transcript is moving along nicely and I'm happy.


I bolt out of my chair and see the door open and my kids standing in the doorway, and I start screaming, "Duchess, Leave it! Leave it!" at the top of my voice while running to the door. I thought she had a neighborhood dog or something from the way she sounded. She's fabulous with people, but she has some major aggression toward little dogs, and I thought for sure I was headed for a lawsuit since my children, who know better, opened the damned door and gave her access to whatever it was she found.

On my front lawn is Alarm Company Guy, standing as stiff as a board with his eyes popped so wide I thought his eyeballs would eject out of their sockets. Duchess is between him and the kids, and all of the hair on her back is standing on end. I order her into the house, being careful not to scold her for (technically) doing her job.

Alarm Company Guy is visibly shaking. I can see his pulse pounding in his neck, and I'm fervently thanking God that he happens to be a young, healthy twenty-something instead of a fiftyish guy in heart-attack prime.

After I looked him over and saw that he wasn't bitten or bleeding or coding on my front lawn, the first words that came to mind were, "See? I told you I didn't need a burglar alarm." Thankfully, this comment elicited enough laughter to prove he could still breathe, and he managed to tell me that the alarm company was offering a better deal than what he described in his prior visit.

I profusely apologized for the scare, and then I told him we still weren't interested in an alarm system.

And I gave Duchess a cookie.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The House Fairy

I didn't realize how good he is at dodging a camera until I needed a picture for this post. I scrounged through four years' worth of photos on my hard drive, and this is the only semi-front shot of my father-in-law that I can find. It's a shame, because he's rather good-looking, even at sixty-something and taxed as he is by DEB's antics.

I realize that the term "fairy" has become one with a negative connotation, but for my father-in-law, the name is meant to convey that he's forever surprising me, much like the Tooth Fairy.

He gained this moniker a number of years back when he found himself unemployed after the company he worked for went under. The House Fairy may like to sleep late (and DEB rarely lets him these days), but in his waking hours he needs to have his mind or hands engaged in some useful task. Being suddenly unemployed nearly drove him nuts.
DEB was a few years away from her stroke, so his "something to do" often involved tinkering with our house. I'd come home from work and find little things repaired, like new weather stripping around the door or a latch that was no longer rattly, and my father-in-law nowhere in sight. Who was that masked repairman?

Once he'd found a new job, his repair-and-run visits were less frequent, but he always made himself available for stuff outside The Oracle's skills.

Oh, but then he retired. Now he was idle full time and once again going slightly stir crazy. Before DEB"s stroke he rewired our house, installed outlets throughout our basement, and he later did the same for our garage. He spent a good portion of last summer repairing and restoring my great-grandmother's cast-iron cook stove, which spent a good chunk of the last ten years in pieces scattered about our garage and back porch.

His current project, sparked a bit by this stove but more likely the skyrocketing price of fuel, is researching the purchase and installation of a coal-fired furnace to replace our current oil system. While baby-sitting my kids, he's making all sorts of phone calls, taking measurements, and scouring brochures from different dealers. Once we get our desktop back online, I suspect he'll do a lot of that stuff on the Internet.

When I return home from a deposition (during which he and DEB are watching our offspring), I often find my kitchen is fairly shiny and the dishwasher is running. The trash is emptied and the cans are at the curb waiting for the next day's collection. Sometimes our grass is cut and the poop is scooped. The other week he regrouted the bathtub.

In one respect, it makes me feel horribly guilty, but I am so happy to come home and find these little (and sometimes big) things done.

In light of all this, a mere "thank you" seems so lame. The occasional dinner or DEB-sitting Saturday isn't enough. Frankly, I don't know what we'd do without him. This Father's Day, I'd really like to bless him somehow, but I'm not sure what we can do. If anyone out there has any ideas, I'd sure like to hear them.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Phantom Pains?

I can't believe I did it. The last time I let this happen, I hated it so much that I swore I'd never do it again, and I stubbornly kept my word for almost thirty years.

But on Friday, I chopped off my hair. Well, *I* didn't chop off my hair. I entrusted the job to Mae, my hairdresser of... fifteen or sixteen years, maybe?

I wasn't walking around sporting the Crystal Gayle look or anything. I've just preferred to wear my hair on the long side. It always fell below my shoulders except for a brief period last year when it was just at shoulder length. When The Oracle and I met, my hair was almost to my waist. It was a major event when I permitted my former hairdresser to lop off that length and layer it up to my shoulders.

For seventeen years, The Oracle has been suggesting that I shorten my hair, and I've emphatically refused. Every time I've worn my hair short, I've hated it. Even nastier was the awkward "growing out" transition back to long hair.

I am blessed with thick, wavy hair. My mother used to put my hair in long braids for everyday life in general, but for some special occasion, my hair was worn free. I vaguely remember playing outside with the neighbor's kids, and during that time my hair got so horribly tangled that my mother, driven to frustration by my shrieking and crying as she tried to comb through it, lopped off my length. The next day she saw the error of her ways and sent my seven-year-old butt next door to Mrs. W. for a "shag" cut. The cut was cute, but mom never bothered to follow through with subsequent trims, so my hair grew shaggy and long and unruly.

In the eighth grade, I hid behind that hair. I've often said that if God sent me there, hell would be reliving my eighth-grade year for all eternity. I was the kid everyone perpetually harassed and teased, and I spent my middle-school years trying to make myself invisible so nobody would trip me or dump my books between classes.

One horrible day in May or so, some evil classmate stuck gum in my hair. I had no idea it was there until the next day. By the time I gave up trying to remove it myself and asked Mom for help, my hair was so badly matted that Mom simply whipped out her shears and chopped it all off. Uh-oh.

My mom was no hairdresser, and I guess Mrs. W. no longer cut hair because she wasn't asked to do a repair job this time around. Either way, what resulted was the most wretched haircut ever afflicted upon a kid. Mom simply hacked it off at my neck -- one level, not a layer in sight -- and she cut bangs into the front. My hair's thickness and curl pushed itself out to the sides, and I looked quite a bit like Rosanna Rosannadanna, only I didn't have Gilda's confidence to pull it off.

Mom, seeing the problem, made a valiant attempt at "fixing" the damage. She whipped out her skinny purple rollers, the kind with the plastic cover thingies that snap over the roller, and she painstakingly dampened and set my hair, parked me under her old-fashioned hair dryer (the kind with the shower-cap bonnet and plastic hose) to dry.

When those rollers came out -- oh, my -- the results were indescribable. My hair has never had trouble holding a curl (except for those stubborn parts that have gone grey), and I looked like a deranged poodle.

But wait! Mom wasn't finished with me yet, nosireee. She combed and brushed and pushed and sprayed, and my first look in the mirror left me damned near suicidal. My hair looked exactly like the hair worn by Carol Burnett in her Eunice, Ed, and Mama skits, with a French poodle ball of curls for bangs and a gigantic wad of curls running around the back of my head from ear to ear, if that makes sense. Thankfully there are no photos documenting my humiliation, but I suffered a great deal at the hands of my classmates during those last few weeks of school.

Sometime during the summer I went to a hairdresser for damage control, but I was permanently scarred. That was the last time I wore short hair. I let it grow out after that, and I eventually did get a shoulder-length cut when I was sixteen or so, and I've pretty much worn it the same way, in varying lengths, ever since.

And, now, here I am, with what I feel is actually a flattering short cut. After so many years with long hair, feeling the breeze on my neck is strange. I gave myself a wretched sunburn on Saturday because I forgot to slather the back of my neck with sunscreen. I haven't had to think about that for decades. When I wash my hair, I still go through the old motions of trying to sweep it up into the lather or run my hands down it to squeeze out the excess water.

Even more fun is that I can wear earrings again. I got out of the habit of earrings when my kids were babies and grabbing everything in sight. I'd wear earrings once in a while for something special, but you couldn't see them under all the hair, and they often got tangled in it.

So, okay. Maybe I should've done this a few years ago.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Mighty B. Survives Pre-K

More accurately put, Pre-K survives Mighty B.

This is my handsome devil proudly showing his diploma. That grin of his is often the one and only thing standing between Might B. and well-deserved anihilation for the heinous things he does.
The ceremony was cute, with the kids singing little songs and reciting rhymes and whatnot. B was a ham throughout, and I wish I could post a clip. I just don't feel right doing that, though, since other peoples' kids are in the video as well. I know I'd be miffed if someone did that with pictures of my kids.
Afterward, he and I celebrated with a Spaghetti-Os lunch and a trip to the toy aisle where he picked a creepy-looking Transformer character. He knows how it works already, but I clearly need an engineering degree from MIT to figure this one out.
Oh don't let that smile fool you. there are many reasons why I call B the "Planned Parenthood poster child." (credit that line to JS. I wish I'd throught of it.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

84 days -- but who is counting?

My kids are off for summer vacation (well, almost. Precious Daughter has an inexplicable half day in the middle of next week and that's it).

Let the games begin!

"Mommy! He won't share!"
"_____ keeps bugging me!"
"Tell _______ to get out of my room!"
"Mommy! She took a bite of my popsicle!"
"He took a bite of mine first!"
"I'm bored." (What, already?)
"What can we do to keep cool?" (after only five minutes outside in the breezy, 81-degree sunshine.)

And this is just the beginning. I now see that my anticipation of June was nothing more than delirium or temporary insanity or something.

I suddenly understand why day camps are so expensive. Desperate parents will pay anything to avoid dealing with the above.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

National Dystonia Awareness Week

I was very excited to rediscover Coffee Bean after she dropped out of blogging for a while and rejoined with a new name and site.

I'd never heard of Dystonia or Spasmodic Dysphonia until reading about it on her site, yet I believe I've encountered people with these disorders throughout my life, and I guess I immediately assumed they were suffering killer cases of laryngitis.

Anyway, to help spread awareness as my title suggests, she's having a little contest over on her page of Blogger. Why not pay her a visit? Take a minute to browse around her archives, and I'm willing to bet that you'll add her to your list of favorites.

Enjoy your day!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Life's Little Annoyances

Prompting this post was my wrestling match with a bag of clay cat litter. Somebody please tell me what the "trick" is to those bags sewn shut at the top? I usually run a 50/50 chance of pulling the string and having the thread "unzip" itself properly. Tonight I fussed with the bleepin' thing for several minutes before lamely chopping at the string with a pair of round-tipped kiddie nail scissors (the only sharp implements handy in the bathroom where the litter pan sits).

What stupid thing gets on your nerves?