All articles, tagged with “et cetera”

a small rant about saltwater

I got my first set of contact lenses in 7th grade — 1985 or thereabouts. They were “rigid gas-permeable” lenses, prescribed by my optometrist in the vain hope that they might slow down the inexorable progression of my myopia. They were also fucking agonizing to put in, wear, and take out, and after about two months of family-wide aggravation at having to listen to me bitch and moan about the things, I managed to accidentally (as far as I remember) drop one of them down the drain, and that was the end of that experiment: they’d cost money we hadn’t had in the first place, and I was informed in no uncertain terms that if I wanted to try lenses again, I could pay for them myself.

About seven years later, I had a rare moment of positive bank account balance due to a relatively lucrative summer temping job, and I noticed that I had enough money to afford an eye checkup and a pair of soft contacts at ‘s family eye doctor. This revolutionized my life, but that’s another story. This is a story about saltwater.

In Philadelphia, circa 1992 when I got that first pair of soft lenses, a 12-ounce bottle of CVS store-brand saline solution, otherwise known as “one and a half cups of distilled water with some salt and some ascorbic acid in it” was usually $1.25. Sometimes they would have them on sale for 99 cents. And every once in a while, I’d hit the jackpot and find a store that had the 16-ounce bottles for the same price.

The 16-ounce bottles disappeared off the market entirely around when I moved to Boston, but CVS would still pretty reliably have the 12oz bottles for $1.25, so that wasn’t too bad.

In New York, things got a little worse: the 12-oz store-brand (usually Duane Reade) bottles were $2 each! But for some reason, there were always 2-packs of Alcon brand saline for $3, so I held the line at $1.50 a bottle the entire time I lived there.

Then I moved to California, and things spun completely out of control. Alcon doesn’t seem to distribute out here, so it’s Walgreens or the actual Bausch & Lomb-brand stuff. You’ll notice that I’ve never mentioned B&L or any of the other major brands of saline wash so far in this entire rant? There’s a reason: their prices are insane, and not in a Crazy Eddie way. A 12-ounce bottle of Bausch & Lomb saline solution was somewhere between $2.50 and $3 at the beginning of this story in 1992; these days it’s four dollars at Walgreens. For, let us remember, saltwater. But that’s only marginally worse than the store brand, which is $2.80.

Over 14 years, the per-ounce cost of preserved saltwater has just about tripled. The mind boggles.

Luckily, this tale of woe has a happy ending… for now. Through the incredible power of whinging to my friends on the internet, I was led to this: $17.50 for a 10-pack of 12-ounce bottles. How many of them did I buy?

(Hat-tip to for leading me to that Amazon page.)

1-afternoon consulting gig in NYC

One of my former consulting clients in NYC is up the proverbial creek at the moment: the wireless hub that connects the 5 computers in their office died, and the person they called in to configure the replacement hub (geeksquad) was somehow unable to put it all together.

This is probably an hour or two’s worth of work, tops. All the workstations are running Windows 2000 and have (with one exception) ancient Lucent/Avaya WaveLan cards installed, so some familiarity with both would be ideal, but really just having some Windows and WiFi networking clue should be more than sufficient.

Reward: my eternal gratitude and whatever recompense you negotiate with the client.

Drop me a line at the usual address.


I have:

  • An apartment full of boxes, delivered today.
  • A missing bedroom window (a story still unravelling, which I may never know the full extent of since it involves my new landlord swearing copiously into the phone in what is probably Turkish but could possibly be Farsi)
  • Incoming cats, to be delivered tomorrow.
  • A raging beast of a headcold, since last wednesday.
  • Jet-lag

If I’ve been out of touch or flaky or not returning your email, voicemail or psychic entreaties: grovelling apologies. I will be re-establishing contact with the external world very very soon. I hope.

it is, apparently, genetic

Behold, the inevitable result of a summer full of excellent tomatoes at the local farmers market, plus a work schedule that kept me nailed to the computer at home through most of July and August:

a martha stewart kind of sky

The count so far: 36 cups of tomato sauce in assorted varieties, frozen in 2-cup bags (of which about a third pictured). 12 cups of assorted salsas ranging from “tingly” to “HI, HERE’S YOUR HEAD” — two jars filled, four jars actually full-on, god-help-me canned, and god do I need a bigger stockpot if I’m ever doing this again.

Oh yeah, and about 6 ounces of pesto, not pictured, because the greenmarket was selling enormous bunches of basil and hell, we’ve got a blender and some pine nuts.


(Hm, too late for strawberry preserves this years, but maybe pickles? Wait, fuck, I don’t have a basement…)

(p.s. thanks to for the salsa recipe. it rocks muchly.)

p.s. I’m alive.

Just a quick note: Hi. I live. Sorta. Work has been pegging the crazy meter for the last 3 weeks straight (and was edging up into the red zone as far back as June, really) — I’m pretty sure that Baitcon was the last non-working weekend I’ve had, and I’d have to sit down and think to remember when my last <10-hour day in the office was.

So if I’ve ignored your email, failed to return your phone call, or said nothing in response to that brilliant blog post of yours in the last few weeks… my apologies, it’s nothing personal. If all goes well, I’ll be re-emerging into polite society sometime around Labor day. If all doesn’t go well, I’m sure I (and for that matter the rest of my team at work) will have plenty of time to browse the Internets as we collect our unemployment benefits.

(Don’t worry about my employment situation: it’s a joke. Mostly. I hope. Luckily, I’m not just good under pressure, I’m great. I tan i epi tas, baby.)


To everyone on the roads tonight, most especially the driver of the cab I just emerged, shaking and shaken from, but also everyone else. Please pay close attention here:


Please tattoo this on your retinas or something. Whatever it takes.

goodbye old friend



Hunter S. Thompson

res ipsa loquitur

helpful hints

So, having been up until 1:30am last night dealing with three different sets of police officers and the insurance company, I have a few small tips for those of you living as-yet-unburgled lifestyles:

1. Serial numbers. Get a pen. And a piece of paper. Write down the make and model names, but most importantly the serial numbers for anything even remotely valuable. Make several copies of this piece of paper.

2. Photographs. Put a white sheet down on your bed. Arrange all of your valuable jewelry on it. Now take photographs of all of them. Stash the photos.

3. Your locks probably suck. If they aren’t Medecos or Smith+Wesson, they can probably be picked in under a minute, or duplicate keys ordered over the internet. Even if they are difficult to pick, your door can be forced with a crowbar. Get a real lock and a support bar.


Sheesh, You People™

So last night, and I made a thermos full of hot chocolate and spent the evening out in Inwood Hill Park, watching the eclipse. It was lovely. On the way back to our apartment, we found a gaggle of our neighbors parked on the corner of 207th and Seaman, doing the same thing, only with binoculars and cameras. We hung around and chatted. A nice moment.

In the fifteen minutes between getting back home and collapsing into bed, I had a moderately funny thought about a zombie Babe Ruth, so I opened up the laptop and blogged it. Then: sweet unconsciousness.

This morning, I woke up well-rested and sauntered into the office far closer to on-time than I normally do. First things first: open up the news sites. Whaddya know, the Sox won. Yay, I think to myself, I can finally start having conversations with 80% of my friends that will not involve baseball again.

Then, I check my mail.

Thirty comments on the Zombie Babe Ruth post, including play-by-play commentary on the last few innings. Obviously I had some karmic debt to pay off here.

I love you guys dearly. And I am very happy for you. But y’all are freaky. Just sayin.

random question

So… if the Red Sox win the world series under a blood-red lunar eclipse, does that mean that the corpse of Babe Ruth will rise from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living?