Plasma in the kitchen, peanuts in the brain

There’s a small mica plate in all microwaves called the “wave guide cover.” It’s typically happy to sit unnoticed, but my wonderful model has melted and spewed plasma all over a small bag of popcorn.

“Hi, I was cooking my food in the microwave and I realized the a corner piece was missing from the wave guide after I ate my food! Will this cause any harm?”

No doubt!

I’m told that children learn by the time they quit wetting themselves that a microwave should never, ever, NEVER BE ACTIVATED WITHOUT ANYTHING INSIDE OF IT. Doing so risks a Chernobyl-esque event of unearthly glow and arcing terror. It’s plasma, for Chrissakes! And I am the idiot pressing the accelerator pedal straight to hell.

This little microwave was satisfying. For a device whose entire existence rests on ease-of-cooking, turning that dumb analog dial was terribly efficient. No pecking at numbers, power levels or food types. Twist and go.

I’m running an extension cord toward the river, tears streaming from my bloodshot eyes, my microwave’s door flopping open just as it hits the water.


I’ll never move a piano again.

The author in repose.
The author in repose.

I spotted the 1960’s Yamaha M1 in a Craigslist ad – it had been the basement possession of a Peoria woman who recently kicked the bucket. In other words, it was a Sunday driver piano. No mildew, no rat droppings, no rust. It’s sleek, with no front legs visible and a model designation that also works for a high-caliber weapon. Now $600 and sweating in a garage.

I’ve owned many electronic replicas, but only one other piano – I was just a kid, but I remember my name being listed on the title (warranty?) card for a new Schafer & Sons upright that my parents bought. There had been much harassment over the years about getting a real piano after Santa had gifted me a 49-key smaller model with batteries. The idea of it missing 39 keys of potential (and MIDI, too!) drove me absolutely nuts. I mean, I had catalogues clipped with replacement options! So the day that the real deal was delivered to the Gerik house was a joyous occasion of much merrymaking. Or noisemaking.

Fast forward a bit and watch me move off to college, packing an 88-key controller keyboard, 61-key synth and amp into my little Ford Focus. It kept me in the game, tagging along once again when I finally moved to Peoria, Illinois for my first job.

But that acoustic piano never strayed far from memory, always to be dismissed as something that a renter should never pursue along with a giant vinyl record collection and modern art weighing over 500 pounds. But every man has his price, the moment where a crazy idea seems within reach and obstacles are blatantly ignored. I was finally living in a building with an elevator and a loading dock out back. A 31-year-old should be able to handle complex machinery.

I enlist the help of my friend Chris. He brings his enclosed trailer and plenty of ratchet straps. The seller claimed that he had a piano dolly, but it ends up being a 2-foot square piece of wood on wheels. Chris and I manage to get it up a short ramp to his trailer, but there are a few times wen it feels like he might be doing it all himself. I’m a wuss.

We hustle through rush-hour traffic toward Downtown Peoria, keenly aware that there is precious cargo in back. It’s all elevators and level floors from here! On the final turn toward my building, I hear a noise. Not a terrifying noise of a piano exploding, but the sound of weight shifting. We’ll be okay.

The vehicle comes to a stop at the loading dock, the doors swing open on the trailer and I nearly retch. THE PIANO HAS TOPPLED. THE KING IS DEAD.

I later explain to the piano technician that “a few things went wrong” and that the piano “was in pretty great shape” otherwise. I’m a liar. The legs of the bench have punched two deep holes into the wood underneath the key bed. It’s hopeless – splintered wood, regret for roping a friend into the mess, sorrow for even thinking I was responsible enough for a piano. Two fangs sunk into my dream.

We push the ruined piano upright, carefully pull the piano bench out of the piano and shove it into the elevator. It’s a beautiful paperweight. My hands engage keys, activating the the Rube Goldberg action of bringing hammer to string, and it WORKS PERFECTLY.

The bench, on the other hand, is in shambles. It has taken on the task of supporting 600 pounds admirably. I throw the thing into a corner of the apartment and decide to never use it again except for firewood for a fireplace I don’t even possess.

This brings us forward eight months, with registered piano technician Barbara finishing part two of a full regulation on the trooper and I’ve never been happier. The bench is fixed and I’ve spent about the same amount of money to restore it as to get it in the first place. THIS PIANO HAS HISTORY.

Cheese coincidence


This is a vinegar valentine. It’s not mine, but it could be if I had a talking dog. I do have a blanket that I sleep under at night and a nose to smell farts.

I am that dog at times, though. My girlfriend found this particular valentine funny and so did I. We laughed and, eventually, I started puffing for the first time in my life. Labels are important – especially when we’re talking about euphemisms for bodily functions.

I’m shopping at Target last week, unable to decide on anything in particular while I pick up one object to replace it with another and then go back to the original. It’s maddening and extends to my cheese purchases. I settle on a neat little package of cracker-cut slices.

Later, my girlfriend learns that I’ve purchased cheese and points out my subconscious decision to procure fart cheese.

But it turns out that it’s not Limburger – it’s Dubliner.


The booty, so to speak.
The booty, so to speak.

Powerful words

“Well, when I went for my jog this morning, I thought it was going to be pretty warm. But in the event, of course, it turned out to be pretty cool, really. Uh, then it began to cloud up this afternoon quite contrary to the weather forecast, naturally. And I shouldn’t be a bit surprised if we get a spot of rain tonight.”

Fawlty Towers, s01e05

A different take on Mother’s Day

photo 1

I’m not a big fan of the phrase “working mom.” That’s a position shared by others, but it does still technically fit my mother in the most literal and traditional sense. She was a flight analyst at Learjet for about a decade before she had her first child (a kiddo named Adam!) at the age of 33.

photo 2While home in Wichita over Christmas last year, she grabbed a box from the attic and pulled out old work mementos. It was a mixture of new and old – saved emails and manual tools for math with names that escape me. Papers with performance curves, equations for how fast or slow or steep these jets could safely attempt. Sometimes with my mom aboard them.

She left work for a time upon the birth of each subsequent child, returning after her boss could convince her back. Eventually, she couldn’t be convinced any longer and she took early retirement.

So on a day when most of us are posting old photos of our moms to social media, here’s proof that my mom had a life before me – one with a bright yellow Camaro and freedom that probably made her a much better mother when she was ready.

She's at far left, identified with question marks.
She’s at far left, identified on an adventure with a question mark.

Why is this hunk of plastic so damn slow?

My trust of consumer networking gear continues to erode.

Maybe I should be naming each cable modem, giving their untimely deaths more gravitas. Or should I single out the individual capacitors of a wireless router, bloated from the years of heat? Thanks, Chap the Cap, but your tolerances are no longer tolerable.

It’s already a miracle to blast bits from a CO or cable headend to your messy home, so why take a chance with a cheap modem or router? Friends don’t let friends gamble on shitty electronics!

We become monsters when we expect a $70 device to perform on an enterprise level.

Garbage, just garbage.

Regret for dessert



This Kansas yokel is sweating bullets. His clothes are 10 degrees off of a proper fit and the stray stalk of wheat hanging from his mouth is growing limp. Three choices of water are presented, so he asks for familiar well water. He checks the wheat behind his ear.

Presented with further menus, he begins to understand that they only serve bottles of wine. But wait! He remembers some collegiate texts about pagination being the realm of the aristocracy. Flipping further back on the clipboard drink list, he finds a dusty pilsner. Which arrives in a comically large beer stein. Oops.

Enter entree. Füd. He squeaks out something about lemon pasta. His hands, clammy – could he have ordered clams? He looks around for guidance, but everyone friendly has left the restaurant, the neighborhood and the city. The lighting levels are to the point that he’s not sure if he’s eating garnish or his own hair, falling out in clumps.

His date is doing a much better job at this charade, but not enough to prevent an outburst from the idiot. A fistful of silverware meets plate meets glass meets glare from everyone and so on. Each noise bolts him from his seat to bow in apology. Each bow sloshes drink onto the table and floor.

He slurps down a fistful of noodles and empties the toy beer stein. Work lights suddenly crank up in concert with the roar of a leaf blower. Blinded and deafened, damned and defeated. His napkin flies off the lap and hair comes unparted, while the leaf blower operator tries to get under his right foot where he’s keeping a crust of complimentary bread.

The marked couple flees to the “library bar.” No books. Didn’t get memo about black dress. He’s sporting a colored shirt, the only color in the whole hotel. He orders rye whiskey neat, then waffles after googling his doubt. “Throw some water on it, sir!” His voice is so pure and high.

Everyone is screaming happy birthday. A couple is dancing in front of a fireplace. He’s tugging at his Target sweater, trying to lose it and shove it in the flames. He’s got to keep the fun alive.

Death by fromage


Greetings from Wisconsin, where a man can easily cause great bodily harm through cheese and beer.

And so it was done (mainly through half a dozen cheeses) on our first night in Milwaukee. I won’t bother namedropping, since the names were scratched on a chalkboard under candlelight. Suffice to say that a pretty penny was spent at Wolf Peach and there were no regrets.

There’s some regrettable news about this city. Cabs seem to be the name of the game. Part of this stems from our hotel’s location on the western most west part of Westown, a recently emerging spot of urban renewal. But The Brewhouse Inn & Suites was too strange to pass up. It’s the gothic-adorned former home of Pabst Brewery, with a large Pabst sign bridging two of the buildings and giant gold cauldrons still in place despite the factory closing in 1996.


The hotel that now resides within has only been open a year. The joint is very nice, undeniably unique, but insists on using a description that makes my face twitch: steam punk.

The interior design of the hotel is Neo-Victorian, Industrial, Steam Punk.

Where else do you think you’ll be able to get any number of menu favorites with a side of steampunk design sensibility ands unparalleled service?

Steam punk or steampunk? And how is either sensible? I’ll dig for answers.



Love to have lunch with you

This is posted in an effort to help those who squander away perfectly good time on Google, desperately seeking the lyrics to “I’ve Got a Sex Crush on You” by Peter Ivers. All three of you. How can we still live in a world with such large gaps in information?

I like your mind, your thoughts, your voice
Our brains entwine like fingers
Your ears and eyes and nose and mouth
And every other part of you too
But when it comes down to the crunch

I’ve got a sex crush
I’ve got a sex crush
I’ve got a sex crush
On you

Could be chemistry
Maybe not
Could be destiny
Let’s find out
Couldn’t be soon enough
There’s no doubt
Till I get my arms about you

I’d love to make sex love to you
I’d love to make love sex to you
I’d love to make sex wet love with you
I’d love to make wet set love with you
I’d love to make love with you
Love to make love with you
Love to make love with you
Love to have lunch with you

I like the way you handle kids
You’re such a kid yourself
You’re here with me when I need you
I don’t need no one else
And when it comes down to the crunch

I’ve got a sex crunch
I’ve got a sex crunch
I’ve got a face crush
I’ve got a leg crush
I’ve got a thought crush
I’ve got a heart crush
I’ve got a head crush
I’ve got a thigh crush
I am a little thrush
I am a starling
I am a chickadee
I am a robin red breast
I am all the birds
They are my children