Printers Plants and Birthdays

24 April 2010

A few days ago, my wife called the Lexmark Customer “Service” Center to get help on our printer. The problem was that, even with a new ink cartridge, an error message kept popping up saying there was no ink. The Lexmark employee explained (in a really lousy version of English) that the color cartridge must be low.

How stupid is that? We simply wanted to print text: ALL BLACK. Why would a color cartridge be needed? It’s not…the printer is just set up that way.

As if it provided any help to my wife (who needed to print her homework NOW so as to have it ready for class tomorrow), the employee offered to ship us a cartridge for free. (Damn, we’re good at getting free and discounted things.) She took down my wife’s name and address (it took her three tries to spell my wife’s name correctly – I guess my last name is unusual in Calcutta) and shipped us this:

This is exactly what the contents looked like upon opening the box this afternoon. A tiny box with an ink cartridge, approximately 3x2x1 inches, plus a sheet of bubble wrap that was not touching the tiny box in any way. The box used to ship this was over a foot wide, ~18 inches tall and about as long. Shame on you Lexmark! Your shipping capabilities are as crappy as your printers.

25 April 2010

In May, 2007, I invested $1 in a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) that was for sale at my job’s yearly garden fair. My Dad used to own one of them; which is funny now that I think about it, because all the plants in our home were just kind of community property. But, I guess, somewhere along the line, my Dad decided the spider plant was his. He said he liked them because they were the one plant my mom couldn’t kill. Now, I recall certain plants in our home living for years – including one that eventually touched the ceiling and had to be cut in half – so I suspect my Dad was exaggerating, but, she is his ex-wife.

At any rate, since I’m a dad, too, now, I figured I needed to own one of these as well. When I brought it home, I set it out on our deck for the summer, where it doubled in size (from ~4 to ~8″). In early October, I neglected to notice the dip below the freezing line, and I brought my plants indoors after they had spent a night below 32 degrees (or 273 degrees, for those of you who prefer the Kelvin scale). But as I was about to bring it inside, I noticed the spider plant already looked dead. So I left it out there for two more days. Finally, my wife said: “Why don’t you bring it in, I don’t think it’s dead.”

It sure looked dead to me. The leaves were brown and moist, like an old banana, and they lied limply on the soil, spilling over the edge of the pot. Regardless, I brought the corpse inside. My wife set it on the kitchen counter in the sun, and soon new shoots came up. We repotted it, giving it a home hanging from the ceiling, and by the turn of the year, it looked as good as ever.

By the summer of 2009, the plant was thriving – with stolons and plantlets coming off everywhere. On our deck, I potted three separate offshoots, being mindful to keep them connected to the mother plant for two weeks while they had time to take root. I cut the umbilical cords in late summer, gave one offspring to my mother-in-law, and set the other two on our shelf above the TV in the living room. Here’s one of them:

Through the fall and winter, my wife has occasionally cut off and discarded some of the offshoots, as they keep falling into onto our dining room table.  Yesterday, I brought the mother plant down from it’s hanging pot, and potted three of its five offshoots in this big network of propagation. Finding another pot in the dark recesses of our walk-in closet, I potted a fourth one today:

In 14 days, I will break the links, and all the baby plants can get to work cleaning our air. If you’re in the market for a spider plant, just let me know. I’m willing to give some of them up for adoption.

On a related note, I gotta say: Absolutely everything that lives under our roof seems to have no trouble reproducing – parakeets, love birds, snails, fiddler crabs, cacti, cichlids, spider plants and, heck, even humans. If you or someone you love is apparently infertile, just have them come live with us for a few weeks.

26 April 2010

Today was a “birthday breakfast” day at my job. This event has evolved considerably since my date-of-hire, and I’m not sure how to plot the trending, but it doesn’t look good.

At first, one of my co-workers ordered snacks – donuts, bagels, fruit – and have them delivered to our department. She did this on each day that a co-worker had a birthday. Then, the celebrations got ramped up: we were treated to lunch in the cafeteria for each birthday. Not just the birthday boy or girl, no, all of us received a complimentary meal.

As some point – maybe about 4 years ago – the luncheon was shifted to a breakfasteon (I think I just made up a new word); our manager cited cost as the reason. About a year later, a declaration was handed down stipulating that, henceforth, birthdays shall be celebrated no more than once a month, with everyone from that month “sharing” a birthday. This took our free breakfasts down from 2-4 times to once a month. Needless to say, I was quite pleased when the only other June baby quit the department. I waited a long time to celebrate my birthdays, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna share it.

Anyway, this morning, as we gathered to walk down for breakfast, our manager informed us that we would each receive a $7.50 coupon for use at the cafeteria. We were still welcome to purchase whatever we wanted, but the company would only kick in $7.50. This is a tough dollar value to stay under, especially since the only decent orange juice is $2.99 a bottle. I skipped on my favorite OJ and still had to cough up 13 cents.

I’m not complaining, mind you; $7.50 is still $7.50…I’m just wondering how these events will next evolve.

I’ve heard a new employee is starting in our department in a couple of weeks. She better not be a June baby.

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