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Sunday, February 16, 2003

I'm getting better at handling the little things. Petty annoyances don't get to me, as long as I can ignore them. I can live with a lot of minor inconveniences, if I know they're not about to blossom into something major. The major problems are usually beyond my control anyway, so when things go really wrong I'll find a way to get help dealing with them.

The missing shower tiles that the landlord promised to replace when I moved in two and a half years ago? They're just trim. They don't actually do anything, so who cares? When I'm in the shower I don't have my glasses on, so I can't even see that they're not there. I can live with the situation just fine.

The hot water leak in my kitchen sink? I wish it didn't exist, but I'm all right with it. I just keep the hot water turned off underneath. If I turn it on when I need it, which is only when I'm washing dishes, and turn it off when I'm finished, nothing gets damaged. It's a slight nuisance but it doesn't make me want the landlord here nosing around the kitchen.

The front door frame that's split up and down the length of it? I can get around that. I can't close the door without turning the knob, which means I can't lock it just by pulling it shut. I have to lock it with a key, but I have a key and know how to use it. It would be easier if they'd fix the shattered piece of wood, but I can make do until they get around to it. I remind them every month when I send the rent check, so I've done my part.

See? I'm very tolerant of the little things. I don't need to have everything in its place. I don't even like perfection, let alone require it. As long as I can ignore it or work around it, it's not really a problem.

What makes my stomach churn are the minor matters that grow into something I can't avoid. This is especially true if I think they've been taken care of. If I believe a problem has been solved and it comes back and slaps me in the face for a second or third time, I can make myself just as miserable as it's possible for a human being to be and still function.

The Coolant warning light in my new Saturn has been coming on again. About a week after I brought the car home, I had to add water and take the car in so the dealer could check it out. I sat for an hour in their waiting room pretending to read calmly, but when they told me there was no problem, I was relieved. The service rep told me he'd had his boss check it out, just to be sure.

Now, as I said, the non-problem is a new problem. I had to add water to the coolant tank last week, because it was well below the fill level. I thought I'd just ask the service department about it the first time I take the car in for (prepaid) service. But the light came on again today. The four little bells rang to let me know there was a problem.

The manual says that if you have to add coolant more than four times a year, you might have a faulty system. I've had to add three times in less than a month. I have no doubt that they can fix it, if they'll just acknowledge it. I hate making phone calls, but one is on my calendar for this week.

They're very friendly at the Saturn dealer, but I wonder if they'll get tired of me and my coolant problem before they manage to diagnose and repair, or whatever needs to be done. I'll let you know how it goes. I still love the car, and it hasn't overheated and blown up the way the Honda did, but I don't like it when problems are so persistent that I can't ignore them.

patch of blue

Black clouds, white clouds, a little blue sky.

Thank you to all of the millions of people around the world who have spent the last two days trying to keep the planet in one piece. The world might never be totally "at peace," but a few people have the power to make things so much worse. If it takes the rest of us to stop them, then that's what we have to do. This is a major problem that we can't afford to ignore.

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We went to see Catch Me If You Can this afternoon. It's a fun movie with absolutely winning performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. It you can't be charmed by those two actors, you should probably stay home. I really liked the movie, despite my diatribe against liars last week. It's okay to lie in the movies. That's what acting is, isn't it?

On the subject of con artists, "The Music Man" is pretty much one great song after another, so maybe it doesn't really matter who plays in it. And I enjoyed Matthew Broderick in the new Disney version that was on ABC tonight. But watching his performance also gave me a new appreciation of the subtle job Robert Preston did in the original.

I know "subtle" isn't a word that's ordinarily used to describe Preston, but I can remember every nuance and every intonation in his voice, forty years after the first time I saw him do it. That's saying something.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Into the House
"It was Australia's first gold medal ever in the Winter Olympics, though, which almost makes up for the fact that the whole race was a travesty."

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Get the ball in the pocket, never mind getting dandelions pulled or the screen door patched or the beefsteak pounded, never mind pumping any water till your parents are caught with the cistern empty on a Saturday night, and that's trouble.