Archive for March, 2012

Mr. Fix-It

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Home Improvement (Parts I & II) chronicled the adventure John and I undertook when we replaced our garbage disposal last summer. That project left no doubt that neither one of us deserves the title of “handy” when it comes to home repair. That is an unfortunate fact because it is almost impossible to find a handyman these days, especially in rural Kansas. With that in mind, the most recent domicile malfunction left me at the mercy of Mr. Fix-It. (more…)

Quality Control

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Quality control is important to the survival of any operation.  In fact, it is so critical that many companies assign a quality control team that focuses on each specific project.  This quality control process places an emphasis on three main aspects:  defined and well managed processes, competence (knowledge, skills, experience, and qualifications), and soft elements (integrity, confidence, organizational culture, motivation, team spirit, and quality relationships).  Since John has been experiencing some quality control problems with his dishwashing, I have been wondering if applying this model would help improve his performance.

I thought I had a clearly defined process when I showed John how to load the dishwasher.  It’s probably not a well managed process because he threatens to quit whenever I offer suggestions of better ways to arrange the dishes.  However, the real breakdown occurs when he unloads the dishwasher because a simple inspection of the dishes and a rewash of any dirty items would render the loading process a moot point. (more…)

Man Eyes

Monday, March 12th, 2012

If you are a woman and you have been married to a man for longer than a month, you are probably familiar with the condition known as “Man Eyes.”  Man Eyes is an affliction that renders men incapable of seeing an object they are searching for even if it is in plain sight.  There are degrees of visual impairment, but the disability seems to worsen exponentially in relation to the importance of the object to the wife who has asked him to look for it.  Perhaps the condition isn’t as pervasive among men as I fear, but most of the women I know have husbands who suffer from the condition in varying degrees.

Of course John suffers from an acute case of Man Eyes.  I have learned over the years that if the object is in plain sight, he can sometimes find it with detailed directions along with a little trial and error.  If another object has to be moved to find the item, I’m better off sending the dog to look for it.  The perfect case to illustrate my point happened last Friday.  I went to the grocery store and spent the required 45 minutes finding all the items on my list.  After placing all the groceries on the checkout counter, I opened my purse to retrieve my wallet.  After several minutes of an increasingly frantic search, I had to admit it was not there, and of course my checkbook fits neatly into my wallet so I had no way to pay for the groceries.

My first thought was that it had fallen out in the car, or I had taken it out at the office and forgot to put it back in my purse.  After searching those two spots, I called John at home so he could look there.  As I am listening to his search, my panic starts to build as each area of the house yields no results.  When he finally gives up the search, I have to grapple with the idea that perhaps someone had stolen my wallet.  I had a knot in my stomach as I mentally ran through all the credit cards I would have to cancel, automatic payments I would have to reschedule, and various forms of identification I would have to replace.

Not quite ready to admit defeat, I went back to the grocery store and retraced my steps.  I checked at customer service to see if a wallet had been found.  I had a brief moment of hope when I learned one had been turned in, but it wasn’t mine.  I briefly considered the possibility of asking for that wallet and assuming that person’s identity because it seemed easier than what lay before me.  Defeated and dejected, I spent a few minutes looking through the trashcans outside the store on the off chance that the thief had grabbed the cash and ditched the wallet at the earliest opportunity.  No luck!

I called home to tell John I was just leaving town since my search had taken almost an hour.  I was about to end the call when, as an afterthought, I asked him if he’d checked the bench in the hallway between the kitchen and the living room.  He said he had looked there but not “thoroughly” so he would try again.  To his surprise, but not mine, there was my wallet.  Relief outweighed exasperation but not by much.  The next time I need John to look for something, I’m going to tell him to put Champ on the phone.


Kitchen Adventures

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

John’s cooking is improving.  It really is!  He made chicken and noodles the other night and it was, dare I say it, almost as good as mine.  Since he used chicken, rather than pork, in his entree, I have tangible evidence that he can learn from past mistakes (Men Are from Mars, John Is from OGLE-TR-56b).  However, he still experiences a misstep from time to time.  In fact, every time he cooks the potential exists for an unexpected adventure.

For the last few weeks, he has been fixated on finding uses for the various bags of dried beans we have on hand that do not include meat in the recipe.  He certainly is no vegetarian so I had no explanation for his obsession to eschew meat in this instance.  In fact, ham and beans and red beans and rice with sausage are two of his favorite meals.  When I asked him to explain why the recipe had to be devoid of meat, all he would say was that he wanted the beans as a side dish, not the main course.  I told him beans could be the side dish even with meat in the recipe.  With great aggravation in his voice he said, “I don’t want it to have meat in it.  I want it to be a simple side dish like a can of pork and beans.”  I paused for a moment, but he didn’t realize what he had said so I slowly repeated it.  “…a simple side dish like PORK and beans.  I think the message here is that beans don’t have a distinct taste of their own so they need meat of some sort to add flavor.”  I could hear the defeat in his voice as he said, “Shut up.”

Despite my objections, he found a recipe for Cajun beans, put the beans in a large bowl to soak overnight, and transferred them to the crockpot the next morning.  When I got home from work and saw the amount of beans he had cooked that night, I started to ask him if the Duggars were coming over for supper, but we don’t watch “19 Kids and Counting,” and most popular culture references are lost on him anyway.  Instead I took a small helping, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.  Unlike the pork and noodles he once fixed, the beans were edible.  Unfortunately, when he asked what I thought about them, the kindest thing I could think to say was that they were tender.  They weren’t unpleasant, but they were definitely bland and fairly tasteless, at least in my opinion.  He professed to love them.  That’s a good thing because he’s going to be eating them for a LONG time.

As I said, his cooking is improving, but I think he needs to perfect the basics before he gets too adventurous.  I do appreciate his efforts and the increased free time I have now that I don’t do all the cooking.  In fact, it is so nice to share that task that I will happily follow along on his kitchen misadventures.

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