Big ears.

I love eavesdropping. It’s my favorite vice, and I will do it without apology anywhere I can get away with it. The other day, at the bread store, a single clerk was left in charge as yet another impending winter storm sent half the world out for French toast supplies. Fortunately, the two college-age women ahead of me in line were chatterboxes.

“They get mad because I don’t want to get up at 7 a.m. on my vacation and go work out with them.”

“You work out with your parents?”

“They made us all do it, starting when we were kids. They also tell me the calorie content of every single thing I put in my mouth. Sometimes my mom freaks out because she thinks she’s getting fat, so she goes on these juice cleanses. I want to tell her, ‘Mom, if you’d lay off the wine and chocolate, you wouldn’t have to do that.'”

Oh, this is good stuff. Go slower, clerk. I want to hear more of this. And I did. Mom and dad went to Hawaii the year they both turned 50, a trip they called “Hawaii five-oh.” When they retire, they’re moving to Italy. At least that’s what they say now. It might be Hawaii. Anyway, the daughter is in some sort of professional program where client confidentiality is important, but her mother “makes her” talk about her cases, which she then aired at the Christmas dinner table.

(This last made me feel a lot better about eavesdropping.)

Then it was on to her roommate, who is the world’s biggest slob — she spills chili all over the stove, cheese all over the carpet, and never cleans them up. Also, she’s neurotic about men. “She’s always crying, and then they’re lying together on her bed watching TV.”

After a good 10-minute wait in line, it was finally her turn. She got a loaf of pumpkin bread. Lots of calories in that one.

So. It’s auto-show week, which means Alan left the house at 5:15 a.m. and hasn’t been seen for the last 14 hours — at least by me. The end of the week brings car prom, and I expect to be doing another photo …something from the big night. I actually got an email about this today; called it a “fan favorite,” in fact. Fans, you can see better pictures at the dailies’ websites, but I’ll do what I can.

Now, for some bloggage? From the Department of Kids These Days, the sad tale of the Delta Chi fraternity at Central Michigan University. The frat was suspended for four years last fall, after an incident at a party the previous spring. And what happened? This:

She woke up around 4:30 a.m. “with a man on top of her,” according to the email. The student said she could not recall anything that happened after midnight and she only had one drink at the party. The email states that similar events happened to four other women who were at the party.

The assaulted woman’s phone disappeared during the party, but it is unclear whether it vanished before or after she blacked out.

The phone was used to take nude photos of her and of male genitalia. The images were later emailed to the woman’s parents and posted to her Twitter account.

There’s a punchline, though. One of the women — there were several — involved in the complaint heard from one of the guys in the frat:

One of the women received a text message from the Delta Chi man under investigation that read, “thanks for ruining my life,” according to the police report.

Yeah, poor kid. Who raises these boys?

I asked for a Nest thermostat for Christmas, but Alan said it was too expensive for what it does. I said fine, then give me one that actually fucking works. (Our allegedly programmable thermostat? Didn’t.) I got one. It’s not as sexy as the Nest, but it works. The Nest was sold to Google today for $3.2 billion, yes billion. And now I’m sort of glad I didn’t get one:

Nest is billed as a thermostat and smoke detector company, but it’s really in the data-collection business. Once Nest’s sensor-equipped devices are in a user’s home, they can pick up all kinds of information — when people enter and leave, when lights are turned on and off, how patterns of energy use change throughout the day — and use that information in various ways. Google has long been interested in this kind of data collection and use — in 2011, it shut down a pilot project called PowerMeter that tracked energy use in the home and suggested ways to be more ecofriendly. But it never had its own proprietary devices to put in people’s homes. Now it does.

Yich. I’ve had a post percolating in my head on the Benevolent Internet vs. the Evil One. I’m thinking this is part of it. Of course, I also just bought a Google Chromecast today, to get some use out of an under-utilized TV in the bedroom. So I haven’t gone totally NSA-paranoid. Yet.

And so the week gets under way. I hope it’s not snowing where you are.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

69 responses to “Big ears.”

  1. Deborah said on January 14, 2014 at 4:20 am

    I’m a big eavesdropper too, especially in restaurants. If I’m with my husband or LittleBird they know exactly what I’m doing because I get really quiet and my eyes glaze over. They usually call me on it and I have to stop, just when things are getting juicy. Once I overheard a young woman complaining to her dinner companion that her mom drank wine all day long, in a coffee cup, trying to fool everyone into thinking it was coffee. Another time I listened to two guys talking about raising chickens, this was in Chicago, I learned a lot. Mostly I never remember what I hear.

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  2. Linda said on January 14, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Eavesdropping is the best. My most memorable experience was in a card shop the day before Father’s Day.

    She: Do you want to pick out a card now?

    He: (Picking through Father’s Day cards) I’ve read enough lies already.

    Now, if I could have only eavesdropped on their family gathering the next day…

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  3. Joe K said on January 14, 2014 at 7:53 am

    No snow down here.
    But its raining Brazilian tour groups.
    Pilot Joe

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  4. beb said on January 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

    In a way who needs the NSA when Google does all that snooping already, and for free. It makes me long for the day when the Internet didn’t do much but it was all free. Now it does a lot but every freaking company wants to harvest your personal data so it can sell them to advertisers.

    In other news, Detroit councilman Cushenberry apparently didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the him he was pulled over and ticked for having an open container of booze and a car smelling of pot.

    Only in Detroit — er, Florida: a 71 year old ex-cop got into an argument with a 43 year old man in a theater over texting and shoot the texter. I think we’re going to have to take away California’s title as “the land of fruits and nuts” and give at least part of it (the nuts part) to Florida.

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  5. Dorothy said on January 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Oh my oh my oh my! Something fun to talk about today! Like Deborah I don’t usually remember what I have overheard but I’m such a nebshit – I love to listen to other conversations! So I think we should all have an assignment: come back in two weeks and we’ll do a recitation of the best of the ones we overheard and analyze them! Who’s in!?!?

    I have a phone interview tomorrow morning at 11:30 AM. And I missed a call on my land line when I was out getting estimates for a huge scratch on my son’s truck. Long story. Meijer is paying for it – we were in the damn truck when the lowly cart return boy was banging them around in the parking lot when he hit the truck. So anyway, I am returning that missed call about a resume I submitted in a few minutes. It’s with your alma mater, Nancy! Would be in the College of Osteopathic Medicine at a local hospital if I get the job. Things are looking up! I also auditioned for a play last night, not really community theater but a semi-pro one. I think. I’m new here so I don’t know what’s what with all the local theatre scene. But I think I did well. I’ll know tomorrow night.

    Tonight? Going to go see August: Osage County for $5/person at the cool Neon movie theater downtown. Tuesday is $5 night. I really, really like Dayton.

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  6. Basset said on January 14, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Last time I was in Dayton, probably ten or twelve years ago , our breakfast waitress was telling us what freeway exits to avoid… “Now, if you accidentally get off THERE, turn around and get back on the interstate right away!”

    Went to the national trapshooting finals there too, quite an event but it was strange to see literally hundreds of gunners shooting toward the planes taking off from the adjacent airport, even though there was no way a shotgun could hit them at that distance.

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  7. Peter said on January 14, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Oh, have I got the eavesdropping stories. This one’s kind of graphic:

    One summer, my Mom and I visited our relatives in Yugoslavia, and some of them live on an island off of the Dalmatian coast. The bunch of us are riding in the commuter barge back to town, and we, like most of the people in the boat, are on deck playing cards and yakking it up.

    About 20 feet away from us, there’s a middle aged couple, and they’re speaking loudly – in English – about the weekend. The guy’s sparing no details, and we stop talking to take in the conversation.

    After many minutes, the lady tells him to stop – “you don’t know, maybe someone on this boat speaks English” He replies: “No, that’s impossible – everybody on this boat is just a dumb peasant – nobody here knows any English. Watch!” And then he stands up and yells out “Hey you dumb peasants! None of you know any English, right?”

    And then my 75 year old Mom says “That’s right darling; now go back to the part about how juicy she is…” and the rest of the boat trip was awkward silence.

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  8. Judybusy said on January 14, 2014 at 10:16 am

    And we have a thread win at #7! I do try to eavesdrop, but never get any juicy stuff! I will try harder the next two weeks–I love Dorothy’s idea. Good luck, Dorothy, on the job and theater fronts.

    And something a little funny about the Golden Globes from the folks at the Onion.

    We got about 3″ of snow here, which I’m really happy about. We had some melting days which likely messed up the XC tracks. Some friends organized a ski party for Friday evening, so the snow will be much welcomed. My intern just walked in: took her 2 hours to do a commute that usually takes 30″. Also, we leave for Puerto Rico on Monday, so I’m really not caring so much about the weather right now. And yes, I did hear about the earthquake, but it seems like no damamge was done. Yay.

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  9. Heather said on January 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

    So, I’m genuinely curious everyone’s thoughts on the frat party story given the support for Emily Yoffe’s position on drinking at frat parties from many here. Should women not drink at all at these parties, then? Drugging women seems more premeditated of course, and a lot of these women were undoubtedly really out of it or unconscious–but that happens to a lot of women who drink too much too.

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  10. A. Riley said on January 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Did anyone read the comments on the frat story? Depressing. Of course they’re mostly immature frat boys defending other frat boys who are clearly out of control, which is depressing enough, but what makes it worse is the illiteracy. These are supposed to be our country’s future leaders? We’re in worse trouble than I thought.

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  11. coozledad said on January 14, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Once you drug someone with the intent of fucking them while they’re unconscious, or to take photos of them to shame them somehow, shouldn’t that be prosecuted under federal kidnapping statutes?

    I know frats are a breeding ground for the investment broker/skimmer political class, but it’s never too early to learn the concept of consent, even if you’re only going to learn it to weasel around it.

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Force, violence, or abuse of the impaired is patently wrong and should have sanctions and punishments standing against such behavior. What’s got to be confusing for college-age young adults today is the mix of messages about sex and sexuality as being positive in whatever setting or circumstance, and also not really the big deal emotionally that traditional culture makes of it, but a sphere of self-expression and enjoyment. Add in alcohol or other mood-altering substances, and you go right up against a cliff-edge along which everyone dances as to determining impairment, autonomy, and incapacity. Mix in some predators who dash about on the verge, picking off strays and outliers stumbling close to the edge, and you’re left with very little room to maneuver.

    As a pastor, I get it that teaching abstinence until marriage is not feasible or reasonable, although I know a number of folks who still are glad they chose that route. I wish there were ways to offer that option without it sounding like it’s meant as a judgement against those who don’t pick it, because I know full well lots of happy older couples “didn’t wait” and that was simply a sequence that worked for them. And I wish there weren’t so many of my co-religionists who would rise up in fury if they heard me present “waiting” as a choice, rather than as “the one right, Biblical*, only decent way to live.” They’re not helping. But I also dislike the speed with which straw men are lit on fire to torch any attempt to suggest that sexual freedom is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    Where does that leave college students wanting to explore both their sexuality and their first experimentations with more than a couple of beers? I think it puts them all on dangerous ground, and don’t think the thrill of risk and excitement of hazard is worth the satisfaction of having made it through safely, but I don’t wish to condemn anyone who doesn’t like the boring route with only occasional glimpses of dramatic scenery. If you ask me, though, I’ll keep recommending the road I’m on as the best way to get to a better place. I’m NOT interested in putting up roadblocks to insist everyone stay on my byway, just want to say the view and itinerary is really pretty nice.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2014 at 11:01 am

    *Biblical definition of sexual morality being whatever a particular church says it is at that time period. Trying to argue there’s a single, unambiguous definition of when and with whom you can have sex is quickly going to lose you, in your youth group, any kids bright and thoughtful enough to start looking up what you’re talking about, and they’ll have you in knots in no time without even meaning to. One can call a perspective “Biblical” and back it up and I’ll respect that interpretation, but saying you’re talking about “THE” Biblical view of sexual morality is just a losing game.

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  14. Jolene said on January 14, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I had the same reaction to the comments, A. Riley. Terrible content and, in some cases, equally terrible writing. And I wondered too whether there’d been any kid of law enforcement involvement. This story was about what was happening to the fraternity, but, if there were charges, you’d think they’d have been mentioned.

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  15. MarkH said on January 14, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Dorothy! NEBSHIT! You have just irretrievably outed yourself as a true Pittsbugher! I love it.

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  16. coozledad said on January 14, 2014 at 11:16 am

    What’s got to be confusing for college-age young adults today is the mix of messages about sex and sexuality as being positive in whatever setting or circumstance, and also not really the big deal emotionally that traditional culture makes of it, but a sphere of self-expression and enjoyment.

    I don’t know where you’re coming from here. Are you equating rape with consensual sex? This has nothing to do with sex for pleasure, or a “culture of sex without the punishments it so richly deserves” it has to do with violence. The same violence that is routinely endorsed by the idiotic masculinity cult of the right.

    What I would suggest to the right, is if your sexual urges toward women lean toward the combative, perhaps you need counseling.

    In isolation from the rest of the species.

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  17. mark said on January 14, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Yes, cooz. He was clearly equating rape with consensual sex. Good point.

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  18. Deborah said on January 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Somebody up-thread said “who raises these boys?” I’m too lazy to scroll up and find out who or the exact quote. Not letting the perps off the hook, but don’t parents raise boys to be decent human beings anymore? If you have to drug a girl or get her drunk and passed out to have sex with her, that can not be cool, can it? Something is definitely wrong with these boys and in my mind should be put away until they can be responsible, decent citizens. If that ruins their lives then let that be a lesson to their male friends and brothers.

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  19. DellaDash said on January 14, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Hope you bag some game soon on your job safari, Dorothy.

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  20. coozledad said on January 14, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Mark: he was muddying the waters by using the old right wing trope of a “permissive society” confusing our future masters of the universe.
    “How is a poor boy to understand that doping a woman is wrong if our society considers an orgasm a positive thing?” is the shorter.

    Remember, society is only “permissive” when women get to enjoy sex. But when Roger Ailes wants to sniff him some drawers and keep paid fuckbuddies on staff, it’s “masculine”.

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  21. mark said on January 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Yes, cooz, jeff was clearly muddying the waters with those old right wing tropes. That is so like him. Glad you were here to call him out. And I appreciate your reminder about Roger Ailes. That’s good stuff. Very valuable. Real insight on your part. Good discussion. Thanks again.

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  22. Connie said on January 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Eavesdropping. A few months ago at a restaurant the two women in the booth behind my husband started describing their own personal experiences with spirits and being haunted. Then they began describing the various psychics they have visited and which were the best. While I know people believe in this stuff I was horrified by the conversation.

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  23. jerry said on January 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Speaking of overhearing:

    One of my sons is fluent in Brazilian whilst looking Scandinavian. In London a few years ago he boarded the underground with a couple of friends visiting from Brazil. The crush in the carriage separated them. David found himself opposite two Portuguese girls (age 18-20?) who looked round and ascertained that nobody near was likely to understand their discussion talked about the date one of them had the previous evening – with all the juicy (if you’ll excuse the word) detail anyone could want. My son listened quietly until at the next stop the carriage cleared and his friends joined him calling out something along the lines of “Oi, Davidji. Tudo bem?” At which point the girls turned bright red and leapt hastily off the train.

    Dangerous things, assumptions.

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  24. coozledad said on January 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Yes, cooz, jeff was clearly muddying the waters with those old right wing tropes. That is so like him. Glad you were here to call him out. And I appreciate your reminder about Roger Ailes. That’s good stuff. Very valuable. Real insight on your part. Good discussion. Thanks again.

    Pardon me for asking, but does this even mean anything? It doesn’t even rise to the level of your average sockpuppet fart.

    If you’re going to troll, observe the standards of the art.

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  25. Sherri said on January 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Heather, I think that no one who is incapacitated can consent and deserves to be raped. That said, I think there’s a difference in assumed risk between someone who sets out to get hammered, and someone one has a mickey slipped into their drink. Neither deserves to be raped, in both cases the rapist should be prosecuted, but don’t stupidly leave yourself so vulnerable.

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  26. Danny said on January 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    As much as I hate to usher in the first horseman of the apocalypse, I am tracking more with Cooz here than with Jeff, though I am sure that propensities towards date date span the political spectrum (think Teddy Kennedy).

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  27. Danny said on January 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    “date rape,” not “date date”

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  28. Bitter Scribe said on January 14, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Wasn’t the full name of the fraternity in “Animal House” Delta Tau Chi?

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  29. Dorothy said on January 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    MarkH I wasn’t aware I was deceiving anyone about my Pittsburgher-ness. I was born there, lived there until 2002 when I moved to Cincinnati. I am a proud and loud Pittsburgh gal!! Home is where I live with my husband, but we feel most comfortable as soon as we get within 20 miles or so of the city.

    We were in Parma Sausage in the Strip last October when (speaking of eavesdropping) the guys behind the counter started quietly talking about Breaking Bad. We were the only customers in the shop then. So I waited til a pause in the conversation and then immediately interjected “Yins need to speak up cuz we’re huge Breaking Bad fans and I want to talk about plot!” A rowdy discussion followed, and increased when the next customers came Into the shop. That was a fun trip.

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  30. Danny said on January 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Donny Iris rocks, Pittsburgh Gal!!!!

    “Oh, Leah!”

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  31. Danny said on January 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Sorry, should be Donnie. Got to get the man’s name right.

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  32. Jeff Borden said on January 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I suppose it’s another sign of my old fogeyhood, but when I was in college, fraternities and sororities were considered extremely uncool and none of my pals ever even investigated them. Then again, we were at Kent State, a big school with a decent downtown peppered with great bars. Perhaps going Greek makes more sense at a smaller school? Anyhow, even then those who joined tended to believe they would reap great benefits from their fraternity ties in later life.

    Have any of you read about the latest gun nut killing in Florida? A retired police captain –clearly fearful that bands of Islamic terrorists would invade the mall theater in his little bailiwick– carried his pistol into a theater in the Tampa area. When another patron was texting during the previews –this is during the previews, folks– our gun-toting hero told him to stop. The texter told the manly gun owner to leave him alone and, at some point, threw popcorn at the gunman. Clearly identifying the flying corn kernels as a deadly assault, the retired cop shot the texter dead.

    I honestly and truly try to understand the beliefs of those who embrace the Second Amendment above all others. I grew up with and know many who own guns and enjoy both hunting and target shooting. I understand our blood-drenched culture will never, ever walk away from firearms. But damn. . .you fucking kill a man because he tossed popcorn at you? How little do you value human life to murder a man who, it turns out, was texting his daughter? The shooter has been charged with second-degree murder, but after the sham of the Trayvon Martin case, who’s to say this prick won’t be acquitted?

    Now that Illinois will begin allowing concealed carry –the last state to do so– I guess I’ll have to be on my guard when I go to the movies again.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I don’t think anyone read the first sentence. Of course, my bad for then going on long enough to let that initial statement drift into limbo. But I don’t think it’s really hard to separate rape from consensual sex: I do think once you start intentionally mixing impairment and sex in a social environment, you do two things. A) you open the door for predators, who should be treated as such when caught, but (legally) it’s now hard to nail them when everyone can say honestly they’re impaired, and by their own hand (vs. people putting pills in drinks, etc., again an obvious crime and when provable worthy of severe penalties), and B) you put college age students in a complex situation which I am arguing we’re still figuring out the rules for. If we’re encouraging those young adults to experiment both with sex and intoxicants as a means to personal freedom & autonomy, it gets complicated in a hurry.

    You really have to work hard at it to make that “Jeff thinks rape is kewl.” He don’t. And I don’t think college campuses are rampant, hedonistic orgies, which some of my fellow conservatives perhaps enjoy imagining a bit too much, just as some like idealizing overly. They are, in fact, filled with people trying to figure out what the rules are, and how they should make choices in order to get to a place in life where they can be happy, in the future as well as in the present moment. And I’m admitting, if asked, I still commend the hoary old chestnut “waiting” as the course I would have the most confidence in.

    And there is no way I can say that where it won’t be twisted out of shape and turned into a scatalogical retort by some, but I’m trying to be clear about what I *am* saying, and what some (many?) of us on the right are *not* saying, loud shrieking voices to the contrary. I don’t think every sexually active late-teen/early-twenties soul is bound for perdition, nor do I think abstinence is a cure all. And I still think I’m trying to give a fair, reasoned response from my end of the bench to Heather’s perfectly sensible question.

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  34. nancy said on January 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    It’s “Ah! Leah!” I hate people that get the words wrong.

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  35. Charlotte said on January 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Oy. The Nest! My buddy Elwood replaced the completely bewildering thermostat in the house here with a Nest, and he torments us all in the summer from LA by changing the air conditioning settings.

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  36. alex said on January 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I eavesdrop all the time, but none of my good stories are coming to mind other than a really raunchy conversation I overheard in a bar in Chicago that got published in a gay magazine called “Babble,” which welcomed such content. Soon as I heard this one I faxed it in on a lined blank page in the magazine intended for just that purpose. And I don’t remember the particulars of the story other than that someone got arrested for receiving a blowjob in an alley and when he called his roommie, a drag queen, to come bail him out, she showed up in men’s clothing “with her face on” and humiliated the hell out of him, as if that could be any more embarrassing than getting arrested for public indecency.

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  37. Danny said on January 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Gawd Nance, I love that song and screwed it up. I hate messing these things up too.

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  38. Dexter said on January 14, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I think eavesdropping is creepy; our first home phone was on a party line back about 53 years ago. Everybody with good hearing could tell when the creepy creepboot shitheels were listening in. I just hated those assholes.
    We are all forced to do it while on line in a store. Twice in the past week I was forced to endure the bellowings of a man who definitely has something wrong with him. Here’s all I know about him: he is probably nearing 40 years of age, he is a dirty person physically, he wears totally blown-out rags for clothes, always topped by an orange worker’s vest, he has a “chicken-man” style mullet, very disheveled, he is very tall and he rides a beat-up ancient mountain bicycle with the saddle/seat completely bottomed out. But I bring him up here because he has a foghorn voice that will travel many yards in a store. He might be fifty yards away and I can hear him perfectly. [inaudible question] “I’M HERE WAITING FOR MY MOM TO GET OFF WORK (blah blah blah)” and he then gives an audible dissertation on whatever is on his mind, and I cannot escape his bullshit. I see this clown quite a bit, grocery, drug store, Walmart, gas station (he likes to hold court while munching candy bars there). I am a conscripted eavesdropper, I cannot escape. I much prefer a silent room to babbling mouthed gossiping kids or adults. 🙁

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  39. Sherri said on January 14, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I posted about the gun nut killing late in yesterday’s thread, with a quote from the NYTimes story about it that I found especially annoying, so I’ll reproduce my posting here:

    The killing underscored the increased debate about when to use smartphones in public.

    But not, you know, any debate about whether you should be packing heat.

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  40. Dorothy said on January 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I should let it be known that I rarely use the word ‘yins’. Growing up we just didn’t say it in our house. But that doesn’t mean it was bad. Just my mother and dad spoke more properly. But you can’t live there and not hear it or use it on a daily basis. And when in Pittsburgh, like when we were In the Strip, we-l-l-l… Of course you say it! My sister Diane does a killer Pittsburgh accent. Particularly when she relates conversations she heard after a tire fire (tahrr fahrr) when she lived in Washington (Worshingtin) PA.

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  41. MarkH said on January 14, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Dorothy, that was meant in the most light-hearted positive way. I am fully aware of your ‘burgh roots (and your transition, like me, to Cincy from there). Using the word “nebby” is a tell-tale term of a native 🙂 Yinz go, girl!

    The reason it hit home with me is just a family in-joke where my older sister actually labled me a ‘nebshit’ for some transgression or other when I was a kid.

    Haven’t heard from Jason T. in a while, but I’m sure he could weigh in, being just down the road/river on the Youghiogheny.

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  42. Danny said on January 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    One of the bartenders at the local Deli/Beer joint near me is from Pittsburgh. He immediately picked up on my mid-Atlantic B’more accent, even though I have mostly lost it. We have a rapport because it is always good to have East coast representin’ out here!

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  43. Christy said on January 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Moved to Pittsburgh a couple years ago, have only heard nebby in adjectival form. And not often, at that. Is nebshit the only noun, and can a person neb ?

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  44. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    The lobby at the Family Intervention Services is always good for some Chekhovian narratives, often delivered loudly enough there’s no need to strain to hear them. “He does that, I’m gonna mess him up and accuse him of beating me first!” We work hard to maintain confidentiality, and there are times I wonder why, because most of our guests are puttin’ it all out there.

    Confidentiality inside the conference room for mediations, of course, are a different subject. But when you yell into your phone in front of the desk staff and waiting diversion officers “can’t you get more than that for my SNAP card, you bithc?” it really can’t be considered privileged info. Likewise “did you put the weed back in my car?” which has led to some unfortunate scenes in the parking lot. The trickiest ones are when you’re standing there with a family, waiting for one last party to the meeting, and the mom is backhanding a younger kid for misbehaving, when you’re about to go into the conference room to deal with an older child’s referral for violent acting out, which mom has “filed unruly” over. Apples, trees; not too far they fall. Once in a while you can point those episodes out in the discussion and you see a light bulb gleam.

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  45. mark said on January 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    “Apples, trees; not too far they fall.”

    So true.

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  46. Julie Robinson said on January 14, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Jeff, not for all the tea in China could I do your job. I thought about you this morning at the courthouse as I was waiting to serve jury duty. We ended up getting dismissed so I guess they probably did a last minute plea deal, since just 15 minutes earlier they were lining us up to head to the courtroom.

    The last time I served we saw and handled some pretty gruesome evidence, and it still haunts me from time to time. I can see how doing that work for years would hurt your soul, and I’m guessing the Florida shooter had a very hurt soul. Which doesn’t excuse him, of course, but as Sherri notes, we need to have a conversation about guns, and about all the wounded warriors in our society.

    Dorothy, I hope you get the job, and the part!

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  47. Will said on January 14, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I can’t remember where I saw it, but Jane Smiley once advised writers to spend time every day in a public place listening and writing down what they heard verbatim. When you start doing it, it’s amazing just how varied and strange people really are.

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  48. Will said on January 14, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    _Moo_, maybe.

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  49. beb said on January 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I the idea that we turn into our parents when we have kids is always kind of shocking at first. Especially if you’d previously swore up and down that you’d never treat your kids the way you8r parents treated you. But it’s hard to avoid repeating history because so often it’s the only model for child-rearing that one has.

    On frat parties. It’s beginning to sound like woman should go to parties in pairs, with one watching the back of the other. Or just as importantly, never accept an open drink from anybody. Insisted on a sealed bottle of beer and open it yourself. But the bigger issue who raises their man-childs to think that it’s OK to drug a woman and have sex with her. It’s not “permission” society because the boy is clearly dodging asking permission. These are males who have been reared in a culture where everything is considered fair game, where there are no rules but “not getting caught.” They sound like Wall Street bankers.

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  50. Peter said on January 14, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    There was a NYT article a while back about someone doing a study on double dipping, and of course it brought up the Seinfeld episode. The writer of the episode said that she was on a boat cruising around Manhattan when she overheard that conversation, and said to herself “I have to write this one down”, and said the show’s dialouge is was pretty much verbatim.

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  51. MarkH said on January 14, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Christy – As it is used in Pittsburgh slang, ‘neb’ can be either a noun, a verb or an adjective. You can be a neb or a nebshit, neb into things, or be nebby. Neb is another word for a beak or a nose on an animal, so generally means nosy. If yinz are nebshits, ya gatta butt out ‘n ‘at.

    Source information here:

    After that incident as a kid, the name stuck with me in the family. “See what the nebshit thinks”.

    Danny, maybe you mentioned it here before, but I didn’t know you were east coast.

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  52. LAMary said on January 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    My sons took me out to a Mexican restaurant last week and we enjoyed listening to the group at the next table. It was a man and woman in their late fifties or sixties and a man probably over eighty who seemed to be a friend or neighbor. The younger man was bitching about everything, but mostly about damn Mexicans. This was in restaurant where all visible staff members were Hispanic. He went on rant about governor Brown passing a law that allowed illegal aliens to become lawyers and how he his mother lives on social security and has 50 dollars per month to pay for a cleaning lady. The cleaning lady is an illegal alien and gets all sorts of government benefits like welfare and food stamps and unemployment as well as the fifty dollars from his mother.
    The woman was nodding in agreement on all this and mentioned all the people taking advantage of the Christmas food drive at her church and why didn’t they just get jobs. Through all this the older guy kept trying to either change the subject, suggest that people wouldn’t show up for food handouts unless they needed them, and mention that an illegal alien wouldn’t likely be collecting all those benefits. Generally the older guy was smiling and trying to keep things light. He had a nice cocktail in front of him and I think he just wanted to have a nice evening out. He asked about the funeral of someone they all knew and the bitchy guy started on about how the dead guy could have got a lot more for his house if he had knocked out a wall and expanded the living room and remodeled the master bedroom and bathrooms. The woman said that the dead guy didn’t know anything about real estate and just didn’t know better. The old guy chimed in and got a little louder then, still smiling, and told them that the dead guy knew plenty about real estate but he liked his house the way it was and was perfectly happy living as he did, and that he had every right to do that. Through all this the waiter and the busboy who could hear everything kept smiling. My sons told the waiter it was my birthday and they sang Happy Birthday Panchita to me and the old guy joined in. Then the waiters gave me a piece of the Three Kings Cake they had and told me that if I got the piece with the baby in it I would have to bring tamales for everyone. I got the piece with the baby and promised to show up with something, but not tamales. The bitchy guy looked unhappy, the woman looked like all the rowdiness at our table was annoying her, and the old guy raised his glass to me.

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  53. DellaDash said on January 14, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Was thinking along the same lines as you, Beb@49…but rejected the idea of being able to keep track of one’s drink at all times…especially after the first one has gone down. However…a buddy system might work if two friends would be willing to trade off party roles…one being the player, with her buddy at her back as the designated (strictly sober) pooper.

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  54. DellaDash said on January 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    LAMary – your dining neighbors are probably addicted to saliva salsa and don’t even know it

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  55. LAMary said on January 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    I’d say there’s a very good chance of that, Della. My sons kept whispering to me, why did this guy come to a Mexican restaurant to complain about Mexicans? A fair question.

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  56. Dorothy said on January 14, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Christy, one can be a neb-nose. And I can tell you to stop nebbin’ into my business if I think you’re being a nebshit. And then I’ll tell you to make yourself useful and go redd off the table now that supper is over.

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  57. Kath said on January 14, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    My favorite eavesdropping story is tinged with regret because I didn’t get to hear the set up for the joke, only the punchline. We were leaving a restaurant in Chicago, and as we were putting on our coats, I could see a group of smokers standing on the sidewalk. They were gathered around a woman who was telling a story in a very animated fashion. As I came out of the door and got within earshot, I heard, “It wasn’t a toilet; it was a man dressed as a toilet.” I regret not going back and asking her to repeat the story from the beginning.

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  58. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 14, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Julie, thank you; I hate to say this, but based on what I’ve heard so far, I’ve gotta assume there’s a bit of early dementia going on there. Which is the subject I deal with most after funerals when I switch from juvenile court mediator to pastor.

    We’re doing a big summit meeting tomorrow with court admins, diversion officers, and the counseling wing to talk with the two of us about “family conferencing.” We’re recommending it more and more as a way to keep kids from going official, and it’s a wonderful way to do the restorative justice which is why our end of the building exists (the mediation hallway). But the problem in making a lovely vision like this work today:

    …is that I can’t do it. I can’t find a family. If I can get mom, a boyfriend (often of relatively recent vintage, with uncertain tenure looking forward), and maybe an aunt, occasionally a grandma, I’m doing well. But the idea we can pull four to six respected adults together around a kid’s life and guide them into creating a remediation plan for the juvenile? It doesn’t happen, maybe 1 in 50. I love them, used to have more of them, and I’ve only done this eight years, but any more, none of us can find ’em. We usually get, for a family conference, a mom, who comes in looking beseechingly at us, saying “help me, I don’t know what to do.”

    Eavesdropping, I realize, is really what I do in this job. Get the kids and parent talking to each other, listen and watch for themes and strengths, and pounce on the affirmations when I see one about to blossom.

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  59. alex said on January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    why did this guy come to a Mexican restaurant to complain about Mexicans?

    Because he wanted to eat his dinner wa-HOCK-an style.

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  60. Sherri said on January 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Eavesdropping is what I’d do driving the soccer carpool. You’d find out all sorts of things driving around a car full of girls if you kept your mouth shut and let them forget you were there.

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  61. Connie said on January 14, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Sherri, my husband’s favorite heard from a back seat of seconf grade girls: I showed
    him, I kicked him in the nards.

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  62. LAMary said on January 14, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I was a stay at home mom for a few years and I used to go to the park near my home every day with my kids. I used to love listening to all my neighbors’ nannies talk about their employers.

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  63. LAMary said on January 14, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    When I was a stay at home mother I used to take my kids to the park almost every day. I used to eavesdrop on the nannies complaining to each other about their employers.

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  64. LAMary said on January 14, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    didn’t mean to do that twice. It didn’t show up the first time.

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  65. Deborah said on January 14, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Busy day, off topic. We spent the morning getting Little Bird enrolled in Medicaid. She finally had her ID verified through the ACA. She has no credit cards and no job because of her condition for over a decade, so no taxes. For awhile there it seemed she didn’t exist. I guess I should have enrolled her in some kind of aid earlier, but she’s my daughter and I assumed responsibility for her, never mind that I couldn’t claim her as a dependent, never tried that, never thought it was necessary. Anyway, today we found out that through the ACA she has been referred to Medicaid, and Holy Cow was it an arduous process getting the application completed. The questions were confusing but we muddled through both by phone and online. So now we wait to see if she is accepted. Glory be if she is, what a relief, after all of these years of worrying about what happens when I’m gone.

    Then my next step was to call Blue Cross about my new coverage through the ACA and find out why I haven’t yet received a bill. I was on hold for 39 minutes, then when I finally got a human, I said 5 words and was disconnected. When I called back I was told by the computer that my wait was likely going to be over 60 minutes. I decided to wait and call back tomorrow morning. Then lo and behold BCBS called me coincidentally to issue my welcome call, and after asking they said not to worry about my bill until I got an invoice etc. What a relief.

    Some good news, Little Bird and I have signed on with an amazing Community Center here in Santa Fe, we are trying out a monthly membership for now and got it for almost half price. This place is amazing, Little Bird is into ice skating and they have a full hockey sized rink, there is an Olympic sized pool, a ton of weight machines, an indoor track. The works. Before we went to check it out I was expecting something sorta ramshackle like much of northern New Mexico, but not this place, it is fabulous. Today I tried the weight machines and I was in awe of the little old Hispanic ladies who could lift way more than I could. I ended up walking the track but found it really boring. Next time I’m bringing my earphones with my iPhone so I can listen to This American Life. I’d much rather walk outside when the weather is nice.

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  66. Jolene said on January 14, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Frontline is doing a show about North Korea on PBS this evening. Just saw a preview on the NewsHour. Looks awful, but worth learning about.

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  67. Sherri said on January 14, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    On the Benevolent Internet vs. the Evil One: I’m not a Luddite, by any measure. My husband and I did a count recently, and we’ve got over 20 devices actively connected to our home networks. We have Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft devices. What we don’t have any of are any Google devices.

    That’s not because I hate Google or think they make inferior products. What makes me uncomfortable about Google (and Facebook, Twitter, and many other newish Internet companies) is that they don’t make money by selling me things, they make money by selling me to third parties. Since I’m the product, not the customer, I lose any sense of control. Google has a privacy policy, but if they decide tomorrow that it’s in their interest to change it, they will, and we don’t really have much of a common interest, because I’m not their customer. Amazon knows more about me than Google does*, but Amazon treats that information about me like their secret formula, because I am their customer.

    *I don’t use Google as my search engine by default, I use a tracking blocker, and while I have a Google account, I seldom log in to it. I use Google Maps on my iPhone, but not logged in (as it constantly reminds me.)

    As for whether we should worry about the NSA spying on us given how much companies are spying on us, there is a major difference: Google can’t use extraordinary rendition. Yet.

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  68. Lex said on January 14, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Credit Oliver Willis for this one, which I’m paraphrasing: You know, of course, that people with Nest will be the first ones incinerated when Skynet becomes self-aware.

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  69. Jenine said on January 15, 2014 at 10:23 am

    My father’s favorite overheard conversation was at the tennis courts in the retirement apartment complex my grandma lived at. “Are you playing tennis? Or are you making blintzes?!”

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