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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why I Never Answer the Phone

Today I have a quick photo of four new Ligne Bretagne Canadians that I just finished to send over to Pipe & Pint. I particularly enjoyed sandblasting these, even thought they couldn't be blasted very deeply. Nonetheless, I am still finding our media "revision" to be fun to work with, although the cabinet's new foot pedal valve has already (!) begun to act very stiffly, wanting to stick unless the line is fully pressurized. Looks like I'll lose another hour taking it back apart and greasing it, I suppose...

Check out the close-up pic of the very pretty horn stem on that natural Canadian - Very nice. The bit itself is as thick and bluntly-cut as all of these horn stems are, but it's hard to beat for beauty of material. If anyone is interested in buying one of these direct, before they go to Pipe & Pint, get in touch quick, as always - We'll probably put them in the mail in the next day or two.

France's country code is 33, and our phone number is 02.40.88.98.08. That said, one should not expect to catch me by telephone easily. I felt I ought to post something because, it being vacation month, I've gotten more calls recently from people wanting to know if they can stop by for a visit while they're in the area. Or to be more precise, more calls have turned up on the answering machine, because I filter calls ruthlessly. Unless I am expecting a call, I never, ever pick up the telephone.

It isn't from lunacy or tinfoil-hat paranoia, though I have my quirks. No, the reasons I never answer can be listed as such:

1. Usually the calling number is blocked. Our machine shows us numbers, and if it's blocked, it's probably phone spam. I detested telemarketers in the US and I have absolutely no desire to try to deal with one in a foreign language, who won't even understand the rude things I'd say to him. So, no identifiable number, no pick-up.

2. If it isn't a blocked number, it's probably a call in French. I am quite proud to say that I've had, this year, several phone calls in French which I have actually understood - a stunning accomplishment, since French without visible body language is much harder to decipher. One must picture me here hanging up from a call entirely in French... very simple French, granted... and then sitting back looking quite stunned and surprised, like a hedgehog that's just sneezed out a live octopus. I don't expect to understand French calls, so I am still startled when I can. But, that doesn't mean I wouldn't rather have Emily do the fran├žais whenever possible, because she's so much better at it and she can handle all the things I can't follow, like big numbers. So, if she's not around, the machine gets the call.

3. Probably neither of us heard the phone ring anyway. I wear wireless headphones and listen to music and audiobooks on the computer; Emily wears MP3 headphones and listens to audiobooks on her portable player. Thus, neither of us can hear much that's quieter than gunshots, explosions, and giant monster attacks. It isn't uncommon to find that we've got five messages on the machine during an afternoon and have never heard the thing ring once.

4. The call is at an incredibly weird hour. I still get my share of calls from the US at 2 in the morning, after a long day of work when we're both flopped on the couch to watch a quick hour of TV before bed. Given the hours I usually work, when I knock off, I knock off.

5. I have forgotten again and left the phone off the hook for two solid days. Yes, I am that scatter-brained. Our phone, bizarrely, does not have a switch to turn the ringer off, but it does have a switch to take it "off hook". Given the prevalence of late-night calls from overseas, I take it off the hook before bed. And quite often totally forget to put it back on the hook again next morning. We really have gone two days thinking the phone's been awfully quiet before I thought to check the little LED display and see if it said "EXT".

So, what to do if you want to call us and speak to a real human being? Letting me know in advance by email helps, so we'll know to actually listen for rings during a specific afternoon. Otherwise, it's pretty much down to having a recognizable number and being willing to leave a message (I think my friend Juan has figured this out because he always leaves messages and we always grab for the phone, if we actually hear it ring). The odds of the phone being on the hook and one of us being in the house near the phone to hear it ring (at some time when we aren't eating or quit work for the evening) are pretty tiny, so until I can afford a full-time secretary, you probably won't have an easy time reaching us by telephone.......