My parents have been filled with a vague longing for a new television set for about two years now. Things stalled at that point because there's no rational reason to buy a new set: we get TV reception through satellite TV and so the Digital Revolution If It Ever Happens won't affect us, and the current TVs are working just fine. In fact, we have a spare, which I got when I went to graduate school and which has been sitting unused in the study for five years now. (And a spare of a spare: my brother and his wife offered my father their old set when they got a new flat-screen, and my father, as always, accepted free stuff.)
Anyway, my mother's friend, as partial payment for home repairs, bought a new television for my parents, satisfying all sorts of longings. My father had been window-shopping for televisions for a few months and had a model already in mind, so they went to a Circuit City or equivalent store in Long Island, found the model numbers, and then she bought it through some online method with the intention that it would be delivered here out of the stock of a local Circuit City, assuming there is one.
The original delivery date was for last Monday, where I was told it would be ``Monday afternoon''. I could manage the house-watching for this all right, and waited. Around 8 pm I came to accept that they took on a non-literal interpretation of ``Monday'' or ``afternoon''. A few chats with confused electronics store employees explained things: with the television being bought from one store, for delivery from another, by one person, for delivery to a completely different name in another state, well, things got a wee bit confused. Actually, I think we confused them enough that the delivery people were contractually entitled to burn down our house, if they could ever find it, which they would never be able to do. But the person who actually paid for the TV set arranged to straighten things out, and we got a new delivery date of Wednesday between 12:30 and 2:30 pm, and indeed, the doorbell rang at 2:25 on the dot. The cats watched in fascination and confusion at this huge new intruding thing being put into the sun room. Someday we may even set the television up.
Trivia: In 1912 an estimated one billion pencils -- half the world's supply -- was made of American cedar, with about 750 million of those pencils made in the United States. Source: The Pencil, Henry Petroski.
Currently Reading: Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, Daniel Okrent.