Saturday, May 27, 2017

How to set up a Haier HPN10XCM portable air conditioner

Step 1: Heft thousand pound air conditioner up stairs to the furnace that is your office space.

Step 2: Turn on space heater which doubles as a fan and turn dial to Fan-Only so you roast just a little less while you work.

Step 3: Lay out all pieces and read instructions as to which piece is which, speaking each item out loud for maximum learnability.

Step 4: Sweat.

Step 5: Try to figure out how to fit three plastic things together to create "window panel assembly" to fit in window but window is tiny and there's no way all three panels together will fit in window. Two panels together (main panel plus one extension panel) will fit in window but instruction book doesn't say you can use two panels, only three, and you don't want to disobey instruction book. Try putting two panels in window. They fit, but the window opening is vertical, and when you let go of the two panels, the extension piece slides back down inside the first panel. (You have missed the part in the instruction book about using blunt-tip screws to secure panels together.)

Step 6: Read part in instructions instructing you to use enclosed strips of foam to cover edges of extension panels. Instruction book doesn't state whether  "edges" means long edges or short edges.

Step 7: Repeat step 4.

Step 8: Watch many YouTube videos. These videos will omit the part of the instructions you didn't understand where you can use the blunt-tip screws to secure panels together (which, in your defense, you missed because the vague language made it sound like the screws were to secure the panels to the window).

Step 9: Realize you've got the space heater set on Heat rather than Fan-Only and say the eff word and repeat sweat 4, I mean step 4.

Step 10: Finally understand the thing about the blunt-tip screws. Remove two blunt-tip screws from screws packet.

Step 11: Realize you forgot to stick the foam pieces to the edges of the plastic panels that will end up in a landfill someday with the rest of all this god-forsaken plastic stuff. Stick foam pieces on panels.

Step 12: The blunt-tip screws are now lost.

Step 13: See step 4. Also consider crying a little.

Step 14: Sit down and start to write a blog post about it because fuck it. And, hey, this is more fun. Feel proud of yourself and begin to gain a warm feeling of self-recognition.

Step 15: The window panel assembly is now lost. 

(You should really be a better housekeeper.)

Step 16: Locate window panel assembly and, miraculously, blunt-tip screws and take it all, with screwdriver (wow, you're a genius, you remembered to bring the screwdriver), to window. Sit in blast of hell from window and lay two-part assembly upright in window, being careful to keep panels fully extended, reach for first screw and – how the goddamn hell are you supposed to keep the panels extended and screw in the screw at the same time with only two hands? Every time you go to screw in the screw, the extension panel falls down. The screwdriver is one of those magnetized ones, and you try just using one hand for the screwing but then the fucking screw falls out. OK, fine, stick your fucking foot out through the fucking hole in the plastic window panel and use your fucking big toe to hold the works together while you use both hands to screw in the fucking screw.

This works.

As you go to secure the second screw, a crow dives in a black flash right past your window, passing so close you can see the feathers, swooping in a great arc toward the grass and then flying off into the sunny neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

City of Weird contributor: Andrew Stark

I hadn't known Andrew Stark before accepting his story "A Code for Everything" for City of Weird. My reaction to his submission was one of those instant love affair things. I probably fairly knew I'd accept it from paragraph one. The story does all the things that make my brain happy. It's a wonderful mix of nerdiness and heart. It plays with science (yum) and and philosophy (yum) and language (yum), and is told through the lovely deadpan voice of a robot dog named Barney.

It's a story that took a little extra care for publisher Laura Stanfill to typeset as it contains phrases like:




Another example of the delicious nerdiness in the piece: Barney the robot dog and his companion (also named Barney) live in various homes throughout their life together, and Barney the dog describes each of these homes down to the exact latitude and longitude. As an example of just how nerdy I also am, when I was editing City of Weird, I created a Google map and plotted out every landmark and plot point I could think of in every story. It helped me to root out some errors in a couple of the stories and it allowed me to track how much of Portland I was covering, but mostly it was just me nerding out on this book I was gathering together. Along with finding and plotting out such City of Weird landmarks as Kelly's Olympian, the clock tower at the Amtrak station, Powell's City of Books, the Poppy Lounge, the unnamed haberdasher in Jonah Barrett's "Alder Underground," and the site of the former haunted Burger King on Burnside and Broadway (along with LOTS of other landmarks - I really nerded out), I was able to paste in such spots as:

45.522202° N, -122.618054° W in Laurelhurst


45.496224° N, -123.121649° W outside Forest Grove

and find out where Barney and Barney lived. And of course, these places were exactly where they were supposed to be.

"A Code for Everything" is the only story in City of Weird that unquestionably takes place in the future, and it is one of a handful of tales in the collection that would consistently make me cry.

Andrew was raised on the Ojibwa Indian Reservation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He has lived and worked in Chicago, Montana, Los Angeles, and Portland. I met him briefly when he lived in Portland during the creation period of the book, but by the time it was published, he'd moved out of state again.

His work has appeared in various publications, and he is co-founder of LOST WKND, the international literary arts and culture publication based in Minneapolis. You can check out LOST WKND here.

Recently Andrew's story "A Code for Everything" was one of four City of Weird pieces to be adapted into radioplays by Cynthia J. McGean, and produced and directed by Sam A. Mowry of Willamette Radio Workshop. The first live performance of these plays was on stage at the Kiggins Theater in Vancouver, Washington, and the pieces were beautifully adapted and performed. Sam A. Mowry, also a radio actor for WRW, gave an expert performance as Barney the robot dog, voicing him exactly as I have heard him in my head, and pacing the piece beautifully, getting lots of laughs from the audience and bringing the story to a heartfelt close.

The second and final live performance will be this Saturday, May 20, at 3 o'clock at the UFO Fest in McMinnville.

I didn't even know we had a UFO Fest! I'm excited.

In the meantime, here's a taste of Andrew Stark's lovely work:

The child, Barney, names me after himself. He seems timid at first, when his parents bring me back to their 2,350-square-foot Cape Cod at 45.522202° N, -122.618054° W in Laurelhurst. They walk me in and set me down. My olfactometer picks up 1,622 different odors, including jojoba in the woman’s perfume, and alarm pheromones emitting from the child. He peeks from around the corner; I wag my tail and yip. Although I understand fifty languages, my communication is limited to barks, howls, and mammalian semiosis. Eventually, he approaches and strokes my head. The tactile sensors lining my skull allow me to respond, and I close my eyes. Likewise, a number of sensory corpuscles near the surface of Barney’s hand send discriminative sensations traveling up the posterior columns in his spine and into the medial lemniscus of his brainstem, causing the electrical membrane potential of certain cells to rise and fall, opening channels and allowing for an inward flow of sodium ions. Once the sensations reach his medulla oblongata, a number of axons synapse with a number of neurons in his gracile and cuneate nuclei. He smiles.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day diary entries early in my life (or the entries from the dates most close to Mother's Day) with spelling errors intact

May 17—I went to a piano odition then out to lunch then to a supermarket.  i was in the Toy area with Shena and a cloun junped out and scared me.

May 15—Today we got out of school 12:00 AM.  Lené came to my house today.  Hector died.  He suffered.  We don't know why.  I'm getting a new one.
[Hector was a hamster.]  

May 11—Today I got in another comercial.  I was a background. We made a mound of sand for friendly the wolf to sit on.  Shena, Heather, Tom, Edina, Mara, Ryan and I walked in the background while friendly the wolf talked.  We went home.  I watched video taped movies.
[The campground where we were camping was filming a commercial and we kids hung around and made a general nuisance of ourselves until they told us we could be in the background of the commercial in order to get us to go away. I was thrilled. Friendly the Wolf was a puppet.]

May 23—Heather came over we went to Jan's and Sarah's house and there we rode ponies and rowboats.  Jan Struck works for Mom in the French Pantry, Sarah's her dauter.
[The French Pantry was my mom's restaurant.]

[bonus] May 27—Jamie got her period.  I'm jealous.  Mom says she'll get me some things just incase I do.  She might get me a bra soon too!

May 9—We came home.  Shena & Mara are spending the night.  We got to listen to Beatle music in the car.

[bonus] May 19—I dreamed I went to Paul McCartney's house.  The Beatles were there.

May 8—Happy Mother's Day!  We swam, sunbathed & played with frogs.  I was reading "Will there really be a morning?"  I saw the "Billie Jean" video like Mom wanted me to.  We came home.  We had more Heather presents.  Heather went home.  Mom, Edina, & I had a talk.  We had lobster for dinner.  Happy Mother's day.  I made mom a card with a picture of the "I [heart] you" sign on it.

(May 7th)  I had my 1st period on Friday and Mom made a big deal about it.  I can understand why but still I didn't think it was any big thing.  I was raving at the time.  I was burning mad for many reasons that summed up to—life.  I was pounding my fists against my bed until I noticed I looked like a maniac.  I didn't know about my period until I sat down on the toilet.  We once again went up to the lake.  I began a book of short stories—I have finished now, 'Box of Forgotten Hope." 

[When I talk about my "town," I'm talking about a game we used to play where we each created a town out of little toys and dolls. Lloyd Hailey and "the tooth brush one" and "Toybox" were stories I wrote.]
 I gave Mom a Beatles tape and we listened to it the whole way home—really loud, because Mom’s ears were plugged with a cold.  So, I was singing my loudest along with it.
            I brought home with me the tape on which I taped the music for my little “I don’t care” song.  I was listening to it.  It is somewhat better than my old songs on that tape of mine, but…
            I remember when my dream was to be a singer.  I actually thought I had it in me.  Oh God, was I wrong.
            I don’t understand my having that dream.  And, pieces of it still clutter up in my brain.  I still write my little songs, even record them.  And, what talent do I have?
            Oh, yeah!
            People used to tell me I had talent for music.  So, I took 6 years of piano lessons, took a tiny course in classical guitar, and thought I had it.  I wrote songs—slow ditties where I strummed my guitar and sung my little, un-trained throat out.  At best they were the style for the dippiest musicals.
            Well, now my style (what style?) is alittle better.  I have a beat now.  My few songs are less mellow.  But, still, I have nothing great.  And, I have an awful, untrained voice.  I can only strum my guitar and mess up chords.  I also use my Yamaha or the organ at the lake—so, I’m cheating.
            I’m begining to wonder what my talent is.  It is obviously not music—I can’t even dance.
            How did I get started on that writing?  I made a play for my town called “Marna Terrace” and I could not do it that way because of the special effects needed.  So, I decided to write it, and Heather decided to join me and write one of her own.  Thus began my huge obsession with writing.
            Heck, I’ve got to face it.  Nothing I’ve written has been better than “Shows potential”.  The books I have scrawled down in my little journal books are all awful.  “Lloyd Hailey” has been disregarded.  My little toothbrush one won’t win—no way.  And I don’t even want to look at “Toybox.”
            I wrote a poem for Mom for Mother’s day, as I usually do.  It went something something, something… these things make up motherhood…  It was really stupid.  When she read it outloud, I had to leave the room.  Then, she thanked me for it, and said it was good. She said that she wanted me to write it out in caligraphy,