My Question To You, And My Windshield Wiper


I haven’t shared any automotive fiascos with you in a while. So here’s one. It started with my replacing the windshield wipers on my love’s car. It was meant as the smallest surprise nice little possible. My love was kind of aware this was coming, since I’d bought the blades a week or two before and never got around to installing them. These were the Rain-X Quantum windshield wipers, so named because they come in discrete and indivisible units, as opposed to those continuous wipers you get from other makers.

So our first rainy day out my love had a good question: what was that little floppy thing coming loose on the driver-side windshield wiper? By the time I figured out what my love was pointing at, and come to guess that it was something we didn’t really need, it had flown off onto the highway. In my defense we went on through two hours of driving in mild rain before things got any worse.

We were off in the middle of nowhere after 11 pm on a Sunday night when things got worse. This worse was the wiper blade coming loose. So we figured to stop at the next thing we could stop at, which took about twenty minutes to reach. This would be the driveway of a volunteer fire department, where there was a sign not to park there, but they had an overhang and everything and I mean, who’s going to have a fire that close to midnight on a Sunday? Bear in mind, this was a small town. Folks there know their volunteer fire department and wouldn’t go having a fire at that hour. Anyway there I could swap the loose wiper on the driver’s side for the solid wiper on the passenger’s side, and I know what you’re thinking: what, doesn’t the passenger want to see through the rain too? Well, I was the passenger and I’ll tell you, this rain looked like a rerun to me.

Still, we needed a new wiper and the obvious place to get one after midnight on a Sunday was Meijer’s, which you can find in Michigan (where we were) by going 750 feet in any direction. Except in this stretch of western Michigan where, again, nothing was but us and the volunteer fire department. The satellite navigator said if we drove close enough to Grand Rapids, where Meijer’s is headquartered by the way, we’d find one on Alpine Avenue. But we were heading to Grand Rapids, on Alpine Avenue. And twenty minutes later we got to the spot where no Meijer’s existed or showed any sign of ever existing.

So I asked the satellite navigator for the next-nearest Meijer’s. This took us off Alpine Avenue, down I-96 away from home, and then into a bunch of small roads. There we found: Meijer’s Corporate Headquarters Complex. With, like, huge glass windows and a mural of old Meijer’s corporate logos and things like that. So that was great to see except that I was about 40% sure there was nowhere there we could exchange money for a product. There was another one a half-mile away, which turned out to be the regional distribution center. If I could have found the front door I’d have banged on it to ask what they have in windshield wipers. There would be no point to this.

Next search: since “places to shop named Meijer’s” wasn’t working I searched for “Meijer Pharmacy”, and this time it lead us to a Meijer’s with a pharmacy and open doors and windshield wipers for sale and everything. It’s back on Alpine Avenue again. So I marched in and got the 21-inch blade we needed. Then marched out, after paying (don’t think that won’t come back to fiasco on me), and the little plastic thing that came off on the original blade came off again, but right away this time.

So I marched back in to the Customer Service desk, which had been closed for two and a half hours. I went to the guy supervising the self-checkout lanes and he said exchanging the blade was no problem. I went back to grab a 19-inch blade, because the car took different sizes for the driver’s and passenger’s side. I can’t think of any reason why the 19-inch blade should work and the 21-inch doesn’t, but after two failures in a row? I also couldn’t think of any reason to care.

The supervisor guy noticed the blades were different sizes, though, and so he figured he needed to ring this up properly and we went to the Customer Service desk. There it turned out the new blade was cheaper than the old. This is because I didn’t get the Quantum blade, but instead a Rain-X Latitude, so named for its great scope to do things, most of them wipe-based. This was cheaper, though, so he had to refund me $3.80. Maybe it wasn’t $3.80, but whatever it was was at least as good. There wasn’t any money in the Customer Service desk, though, so he wanted to give me a gift card for the difference.

To do this he had to get the register to read the receipt, which the system said didn’t exist. He tried entering the transaction number manually, and the system agreed it didn’t exist. He figured he could ring this up as a receiptless exchange and refund and that I didn’t need to be part of figuring out the system’s problems. A good point. To do this he needed my driver’s license, to record whatever the heck it is they do. And then he swiped the gift card and the system didn’t want to do that. So he needed to take my driver’s license back and try it over again. I know what you’re thinking: no, he remembered to give me my license back before we got too far from the Customer Service Desk. Anyway this time the wiper went on, and it stayed on, lest I get out on I-96 and punch it.

A mile down the road I ask what I did with the old, defective blade when I took it off the car. We conclude I must have left it on the car hood and it’s now lost in the parking lot of a Meijer’s in Grand Rapids. It turns out the next day it’s just sitting in that space between the car hood and the windshield, protected by the wiper arms.

Grant the fiasco nature of this, or as they say in the trades is fiascosity. My question: what the heck was all this about?

The Counting Thought


We’ve reached the season that Meijer’s self-checkout cash registers start giving out gift receipts. But they’re a little sharper this year. They will give a gift receipt for a set of surely-made-by-adequately-paid-workers-in-environmentally-safe-conditions-as-far-as-I-know art supplies meant as a Toys for Tots donation. They didn’t give a gift receipt for a pack of toilet paper and three bars of Ivory soap. They were correct in this. The soap is totally my gift to myself and my excessive hand-washing compulsion. I’m just glad they’ve got the system understanding this.

Why I’m Stuck Again At The Meijer’s Check-Out Lane


So there’s been some progress and I found some acceptable cargo pants at Meijer’s. And now I have to work out whether I had an “extremely” satisfying shopping experience. I have no conceptual theory for what makes an extremely satisfying pants-buying experience. I have some ideas of things that make for an unsatisfying pants-buying experience. I’m a little unhappy that I had to ask someone to unlock the dressing room, but that’s just because I don’t want to bother the person whose job it is to unlock the dressing room by asking for dressing-room-unlocking services.

But that’s not truly unsatisfying, the way I’d be unsatisfied if, say, a pair of test-fit pants turned out to have legs full of angry worms. I don’t know why the worms are there. Maybe they wanted to simulate the leg experience. Or if I took the pants off the rack and was immediately tackled by The Number 23-era Jim Carrey. Maybe if I went to buy them and got caught in a spotlight while buses full of everyone I knew in middle school came by to point and laugh at me.

But “extremely” satisfying has to be more than just “nothing unpleasant happens”. I need something more. I don’t know what. I’m stuck on what that would need. My attempts to think of an “extremely” satisfying pants-buying experience keep failing. Like, suppose I tried on a pair of pants and found a $20 in the pocket? Great, right? Except then I can’t just ignore the fact that some stranger wore these pants before me and they weren’t even washed or anything. Or else someone didn’t put these pants on and is just shoving money into the pockets of un-used pants. Why would someone do that? What’s their angle?

The people behind me in lane 14 are getting tired of my dithering. Please send help. Also, companies, please stop trying to be personal. It’s not working out like you want.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The Another Blog, Meanwhile index rose five points as a high-pressure system moved out, which goes to support the hypothesis that people knew what they were doing yesterday when they blamed the five-point drop on the high-pressure system. It’s nice that something would work out like that.

120

Why I’m Still Stuck At The Meijer’s Check-Out Lane


The card reader wants to know if I had an extremely satisfying shopping experience? What would an extremely satisfying shopping experience be? I was just there to pick up a prescription and some toothpaste. I can imagine ways that this would be unsatisfying, like if I picked up a tube of Crest and it burst into fire, but that didn’t happen. Surely an extremely satisfying trip requires more than just toothpaste not combusting? Does toothpaste even catch on fire? If not, could you use it to put out a fire? Why? It would have to be an extremely small fire and in that case couldn’t you just spray, like, mouthwash on it instead? Would that work? How does that help me figure out whether I’m “extremely” satisfied? I guess I didn’t find a new pair of cargo pants, but then I didn’t figure I was going to either. I just checked in case they had some. I have a lot of stuff I can’t do without having in my pants, such as my legs, quarters for pinball, and my iPod Touch. Cargo pants are good ways to satisfy those needs, since there’s more pockets than there are things to put in them. But if I didn’t get something I didn’t really expect to get am I satisfied? Anyway, someone please go to the soup aisle, get a can of lentil, bring it to the microwave aisle, warm it up, and bring it to me at the checkout lane. Thank you.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose nearly nine points as investigators concluded that yes, all the clocks in the house are on the right time now and that yeah, the one in the guest bedroom did spend all winter on Daylight Saving Time after all and it didn’t bother anybody, just like Mike said it would.

136

In Which My Snark Gets Preempted


So there I was at Meijer’s reading all the labels of stuff because don’t we all and I noticed this bottle of nothingness.

Herbal dietary supplement 'Water Pill'.
I don’t want it to sound like I spend my time hanging around the dubiously useful dietary supplements section for no good reason. We regularly stop in there to buy a bottle of papaya enzyme tablets for our pet rabbit. Papaya enzyme is thought to probably do something good for rabbits, somehow, although nobody knows how it could or why it ought to. But our rabbit really loves the taste and looks betrayed when we snag one for ourselves and that’s something, right?

And I was all ready to joke about what you take with a water pill and then foolishly read the actual instructions.

Suggested use for the Water Pill: take one tablet with eight ounces of liquid.
I haven’t got any idea what a Water Pill is supposed to do for anyone, and I read the label over trying to work out what it was supposed to do. Or what it was made of, since apparently it doesn’t contain anything. I suppose someone will be along to explain what it does and it’ll probably be something that sounds reasonable enough, but it’s easier to laugh at something than make the tiny effort needed to learn what it’s actually about. And fine, so I’m going along with one of society’s problems then.

They beat me to the joke. What am I supposed to do with that?

Anyway, I found an excuse to include a Betty Boop cartoon over on my mathematics blog. Maybe you’d like to read that, then?

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

And some big news! After that awkward elevator incident the mainstream and the alternate traders for the Another Blog, Meanwhile index have worked out a deal. They’ve agreed to merge the groups back into a single trading community, saving everyone a lot of stress as they don’t know which group to participate in or what might happen if they pick the wrong one. And it saves me the stress of figuring which of the indices I should be reporting on. Anyway there’s some paperwork they have to work out but they’re hoping to have that all sorted out tonight or tomorrow. For the record the mainstream and the alternate indices both rose two points yesterday, getting both back to 100, which is exactly where this all started. Isn’t that all just perfectly lined up? I’m amazed by it too.

100

Ninja Turtles Under Attack


So we were at Meijer’s trying hard to think of what we went to Meijer’s to buy. We succeeded as far as we know. The store had some toys in those little mid-aisle displays that make it harder to get around the aisle. This one was of those giant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. Well, I guess they’re not giant. They are like four feet tall and I think that’s about life-size for the Ninja Turtles. The 1980s Ninja Turtles anyway, that I’m kind of sure-ish about. They’re way giant compared to any toys.

We were walking past and this kid ran out of Seasonals, punched a Michaelangelo right in the stomach, and then ran off before the Ninja Turtle could retaliate.

It all seemed mysterious. And quite unfair. Who sucker-punches a Ninja Turtle? I mean a Ninja Turtle other than Raphael. There must be some story we’re not getting behind this.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

So the main Another Blog, Meanwhile Index dropped seven whole points in scattered trading interrupted by thunderstorms. Analysts say this isn’t going to affect their long-term plans because they just “had a feeling” something like this was going to happen, what with the way the dog was walking funny and tried to eat the flameless votive candle off the coffee table. So they say. I say they were just as surprised as everyone else including the dog was.

83

And Then There Was This At The Store


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hand sanitizer. 'Collect all 4!'
It’s the command to “collect all 4!” that gets me. Should we be encouraging compulsive behavior like completism in people buying hand sanitizer? Think of the dried-out, raw-rubbed skin, people.

So I have to figure the target market for this is people who are figuring to go to a bar tonight, and know there’s a fair chance the bathroom will run out of soap, and they want to do something about that, but only if doing something about that involves getting to compress a computer-animated rendition of Leonardo.

And if I’m wrong? I’m not ashamed. Anyway I talk about some mathematically-themed comic strips over on my other blog, so you can look at that instead.

Meanwhile, Amusing Me At Meijer’s


So at Meijer’s they’d set up a little tent with a ballot box. “Who Do You Want In Your Basket: Chocolate Bunny or Marshmallow Peep?” And delightful was that it was just a sheet of paper to mark your preference. It doesn’t ask for contact information. There’s no using your vote to market anything to anyone. That was fine enough. And then —

A box, 'Vote Here', to choose between chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps for your basket.
Why would you vote against chocolate bunnies, what with how peeps taste great exactly up to the point you realize if you ate one less you wouldn’t feel like throwing up now?

Somebody was so bothered about a mis-marked ballot in a meaningless, irrelevant buy-more-candy stunt that they tore up the mistaken ballot? I’m so amused by that I’m going to go ahead and pretend I don’t suspect the torn ballot was there at management’s orders so people wouldn’t feel worried they’re the first person to fill in a ballot or anything.

And in my mathematics blog, mathematics comics. No calculus this time, although I do try to transcribe Comic Dutch dialect. Plus I ask about educational reform trends in Canada, so you know that’ll be fun!

And finally, those reading Thomas K Dye’s Infinity Refugees may have missed the sad news. He’s had to put the project on hold for a while. But the good news is he’s taking the chance to rework the Newshounds comic it draws from. The new version started this week, so it’s a good chance to hop on.