I Wonder What Other Animals Are Secret Residents of My Neighborhood

My desk at home is right near a window that overlooks my street. It’s fun because I can sit there and do stuff on my computer and look out the window to see people walking by and delivery trucks showing up and when the occasional person walks up the driveway to my door, I can assess whether or not they saw me and can prepare myself to hide when the doorbell rings.

Also sometimes I see fun animals walking down the street. Lots of times there are people walking their dogs. Occasionally a deer wanders by. Then there was today. I was standing in front of my window talking on the phone to Alex and Sam was sitting in the room with me.

I was about to tell Alex my super fun animal news of the day, which was that I got the cats to play video games.*

Then, and I couldn’t quite believe I was saying the words, I said, “Oh my God, there is a pig walking down the street.”

To be clear, I live in the suburbs. This is not a normal occurrence. And it wasn’t like somebody’s cute little miniature piglet was out for a trot on a leash. This was a giant-ass unattended pig rooting around in my recycling bin.

Photo of pig at the end of my driveway. There is a ripped up cereal box near him.

The little box by his legs is the remnant of a Double Chocolate Krave box in which our friend the pig finished all the cereal Quinn left in the bottom of the box. Is chocolate bad for pigs? Is it bad for children at breakfast time?

I decided that something bad might happen to this pig if he continued to wander alone so I called animal services and then, because he’d disappeared from my line of sight, I went outside to see if I could find him in case I could give them an update on his trajectory. Because I’m a giver, I also took my phone to take photos for you.

When I went outside, I found my next door neighbors who were all, “It is still here?” Then I saw that the pig was between our two houses, scavenging pizza crumbs out of a pizza box he’d knocked out of the trash.

Photo of a big black pig eating out of a pizza box

Wild pigs—they’re just like us!

But then the pig spotted me and made a beeline straight at me like I was a congealed bit of cheese on the bottom of a pizza box. The he started headbutting me and kinda jumping up at me and I decided that he was either a pet pig who wanted love or one of those human-eating pigs who wanted to eat me.

Of course, Jack’s bus arrived at that very moment so he could watch his mom be attacked and devoured by a giant pig.

And naturally Jack headed directly toward us with a giant grin on his face. So then I sacrificed myself by putting my body between the woman-eating pig and my baby and shoved him through the garage into the house as my neighbors watched in horror. I wasn’t able to get into the house because the pig had followed us and the last thing I wanted to do was LET THE PIG INTO MY HOUSE, so I slammed the door and waited until he wandered a little bit away before I ran into the house as well.

Photo of part of a pig in my garage from very close up.

PIG! IN MY GARAGE!

I went back up to my window just in time to see a stressed out looking teenager holding a cucumber walking rapidly in the pig’s direction. I ascertained that he belonged to the pig and called back animal services to tell them they no longer needed to apprehend a wild pig, which was probably good news to whomever they’d dispatched to our location.

Because, I suppose, pig necks don’t lend themselves to leashes, he lured the pig down the sidewalk with the cucumber. It was kind of adorable.

All in all, it was a very exciting afternoon. I realize that it is now apparent that I don’t have a very exciting life. But c’mon a pig. All by himself. Walking down my street. That’s good stuff.

*****

* I did. It was awesome. My friend posted a photo of her cat playing this game and I was all, “My cats should obviously be doing that too,” and five minutes later Ruby had leveled up to Level 4 and Oreo was trying to pick up the iPad with her teeth.

Back in My Shoes

I had a really hard time making myself run after my marathon. I had hoped to keep up with at least 25-mile weeks to maintain my running capabilities, but I think my body and mind really just needed a rest. I eventually gave in and allowed myself to take some time, only heading out to run once or twice a week.

Alex is running these days, so if not for him inviting me on his runs, I might not even have done that. Hooray for Alex. Plus, he runs faster than I do, so he’s helping me with my “get faster” plan.

I am the type of person who needs an event hanging over my head to induce some panic training, so I wanted to put something threatening on my calendar that would force me into the streets.

Cue the Marine Corps Marathon 17.75K.

This is an 11.03-mile race that, if/when you finish, you are guaranteed entry into the Marine Corps Marathon in October. Registration was last Friday. It opened at 11am, which is when I registered. By the time I got home from work at 3pm and I looked at the site again, it was sold out. Phew! Glad I put reminders on my work calendar to sign up.

Happily, now I have a threatening event on my calendar—a marathon in October. Yikes! Also, however, I have to run this goddamn 11-miler, which, it turns out, looks fucking hard. (Hills, gravel roads, 11 miles, etc.)

Too bad I haven’t been running because that race is in five weeks. Double yikes.

Cue panic training.

I’ve just filled out my training calendar with every run I am taking between now and October 22. Seriously. Give me a date and I can tell you how far and how fast I’ll be running that day. I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

As long as I’m telling you about my running, I might as well tell you about the race I ran this weekend, which was called the Sykesville Shiver Shuffle even though it was 70-degrees outside and most people were wearing shorts. It made the guy there in the snowman costume look ironic. And it made the people who were running in Hawaiian shirts look less ironic.

This was just a 5k race, but its motto is apparently “Kill the hill!” because there is a big hill they make you run up. I was told that the first mile is uphill and then it is either flat or downhill with a one-mile all-downhill stretch at the end. That is all a bunch of lies though because every time I turned a corner, hey, guess what, another motherfucking hill. When I turned the corner with .75 miles to go and was confronted by another hill, I flat-out told the guy at the turn that this course was BULLSHIT. Because it was.

Regardless, it was a super fun course and at least they weren’t lying about the downhill stretch to the finish. It was one of those downhills where you just have to commit to gravity and have confidence that you aren’t going to fall because if you do, you are going to lose six or seven layers of your face. And probably a kneecap.

Photo of me running downhill. My hair is flying all round the back of my head.

I include this photo from the race mostly because my hair is fucking hilarious in it. While *I* was committed to gravity, my ponytail was not.

Regardless of hills, I still ran pretty fast, averaging about 11-minute miles, which is awesome for me. Yay, gravity!

Anyway, get prepared to hear lots of whining from me as I train over the course of the next few months because if marathon training in the winter in DC was obnoxious, imagine what marathon training in DC during the summer is going to be like. Blerg. Stupid Extremely Recent Past Stimey signing me up for this. But at least she’s getting me running again.

 

Stimey, Tech Genius, at Your Service

A couple of years ago, my mom and stepdad gave us a Samsung Chromebook because they had one and didn’t use it and because we will never turn down a free computer.

If you’re not familiar with the Chromebook, it is basically an all-online computer so it is handy for email and Google docs and stuff. It is also the type of computer that my school district uses for everything in school. Because of this, I plugged in the charger next to the table where we do homework and fire it up to check assignments, work on projects, and check school email. It is super handy.

Or it was super handy until I opened it up one day to find this:

Photo of a broken computer screen.

That’s not…right.

I immediately closed it and put it back where I’d found it because if I know anything about fixing electronics, it’s that turning them off and ignoring them for a few days will almost always solve the problem.

Frankly, if you avoid pretty much any problem for long enough, eventually it will go away.

It turns out that Chromebooks aren’t one of those problems.

When I opened it back up a week or so later, the screen was still broken. Curses. How could that be? I let it sit for multiple days. Multiple.

Step two of the Stimey plan for fixing electronics is to burst into tears and hurl said electronic into the trash. I made a quick decision this time to take positive action instead.

It was a pretty radical approach.

It turns out that if you invest, say, four or five seconds Googling a problem, you just might find the answer. I found a link to a video of a guy replacing a Chromebook screen and then discovered that you can buy a replacement screen for, like, 30 bucks on Amazon.

Soon the screen showed up in the mail and I let it sit for several days because, well, it is an electronic item and I thought it would be a good idea to let it stagnate for a while—like a fine wine or a Chromebook screen you want to magically start working again.

When I finally got my nerve up to sit down and start ripping the Chromebook apart (seriously—ripping; there aren’t even any screws holding the screen casing together), I took a lot of photos because I thought it would turn into a funny post about how I destroyed a computer and electrocuted myself at the same time, but it turns out that replacing a Chromebook screen is really easy.

I pried the casing off, unscrewed the six screws holding the screen into the Chromebook, screwed back in the two screws that were actually holding something else into the Chromebook and were unrelated to the screen, and set about to unhook the cable that attaches the Chromebook to the screen.

This is where I ran into my only trouble. There is a tiny little handle that you’re supposed to yank on to separate the cable from the screen, but that handle is practically invisible so I yanked on the wrong thing and exposed some wires that were heretofore covered before I found the tiny handle, but it didn’t seem to damage anything and I found the handle prior to actually yanking the wires out of the connector, so it’s all good.

Photo of the connector cable. There is a little wire handle about an inch long with a yellow flag on top that I'm holding.

So, yeah, it doesn’t look so tiny here, but that little yellow flap was, like, tucked under something else. Also, is anyone else super distracted by the fact that there are crumbs on the keyboard? Why must everything always be dirty?

I attached the new screen, screwed it into the computer, and spent about 30 seconds re-shoving the casing over the screen where it clicked happily into place. I held my breath and pushed the power button.

Photo of my fixed screen.

Hold on a second while I finishing filling out my job application for the Geek Squad.

Dude, you guys, I FIXED A COMPUTER.

Naturally, then I had to pry apart the old screen to find out what exactly a computer screen is made of. It turns out it consists of four different kinds of stiff plasticky film and a screen of indeterminate material. There is also a little circuit board that you can pry off and give to your kid.

Quinn holding a green strip of circuit board.

This now lives in his room.

Quinn wanted to keep all of the pieces of the broken screen, but that seemed like starting down a slippery slope that would end with boxes of broken parts strewn about our house.

Frankly, we don’t have any boxes to spare for that because all our boxes have been confiscated by our cats.

Starfire the cat sitting in the shallow box the screen came in on top of some bubble wrap.

Ooooh! Bubble Wrap! Extra cushy.

Jack took the bubble wrap from the box the screen came in, which also seems like starting down a slippery slope, this one ending with trash littered around our house, but it seems hard to fight that result.

I still haven’t figured out who broke the Chromebook in the first place, which really seems like a waste of my yelling abilities, but I guess the satisfaction of having done something new will have to be my only reward.