Monday, June 30, 2008
Anyway, whatever they meant, I find I like them. If Ewan MacGregor were a rock band, he'd be Interpol. If Interpol were a clothing item, they'd be a peacoat. If Interpol were a movie, they'd be a Jean Seberg film. Definitely too cool for the room. I love the melodic, guitar-driven sound. Heck- any band who puts 4 guitars on stage - that's timelessly good sound, in my humble opinion.
Anyway, Antics is a fantastic cd, and great housecleaning music, actually. I was in Denton visiting Hols on Sunday and stopped by Hastings, who--bless their hearts-- had a copy of Our Love to Admire-- the latest Interpol fare. Yays. Listened to it on the way to the gun range, and loved it.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Anyhoo, the theme this week was home. I've had profound reasons to consider what makes a home in recent times myself, and I find my notions are evolving and moving forward, and while my idea of home is more nebulous in ways, I think I've never been more clear-headed.
Home is heart and hearth.
Is it really inside me?
I'm maybe a little unconventional in a few ways. Among the things I surround myself with, the furniture and belongings I most treasure tend to be the ones I bought at thrift stores and junk shops. I had a moment of clarity about possessions, though, about 9 years ago. Terrified by a thunderstorm, my wild banshee doglet got out and probably ran for miles in the wind and the rain. I was grief-stricken, shattered. I put up reward signs around town and mailed flyers to every veterinarian in Dallas, Collin and Denton counties. I went to the SPCA every day.
I was a total wreck. I then realized that I would trade every possession I owned to have my little dog back. We could live in a cardboard box under a bridge, but I needed my dog, and she needed me. One day at the SPCA, Tuesday, August 10, she'd been missing for 9 weeks. I walked in and saw her picture was covered up by a photo of someone's missing cat. I said "you covered my dog's picture" and they scrambled to uncover it. Three days later, a woman came in and saw the doglet's picture on the board and said "I have that dog" and I got my dog back on Friday 13th.
Big Cat's Entry:
Wherever she is
My head resting next to hers
There my home resides
Home shifts, moves, travels
Each day in another world
Tracking her heartbeat
So every day since then has been extended play in our closed corporation. I meant what I said about giving up all I owned to have her and not looking back. Now, though, she's at the end of a journey where there is no bargaining and only grim truths to be faced, all absolute and non-negotiable. Looking around at my apartment, I still wish I could trade all this stuff to have her a little longer. Cardboard box technology has come a long way.
be who you should be
do what you are called to do
home is within you
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Sometimes, you just have to wonder...
A British tabloid has published photos Elvis Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker carefully prevented from being published. In the photos, Elvis doesn't look terrible or anything, but mostly he's not on his A-game in them.
The one that amazed me, though, is this one with a caption reading Here, he's kissing his mother, Gladys, unembarrassed by the youthful acne on his shoulders.
What was he thinking? He should have known that in 50 years, people would be obsessing over his back acne. Colonel Parker knew what he was doing, apparently. Translation is the crap photos of famous people will one day be worth way more than the good photos ever were.
I'm still waiting for a photo of Madonna in a restaurant with tri-focals trying to read a menu, regimented little rows of chin-skin accordioned up as she holds the menu as far as possible from her face so's she can read it. Of course, that's silly of me to imagine. She prolly pays a lackey just to hold menus for her on the other side of the table.
The exquisite Ofra Haza 30 years ago when she was 21. This song Im Nin'Alu, was updated in the late 80s and has been sampled in pop and hiphop tracks by other artists. Ofra's voice had a jewel-like quality and was an instrument of rare purity. She died in 2000.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Louis Vuitton's Conspiration Pilote lunettes with the monogram coating on the lenses. We likee because it reminds us of Madeline Kahn in High Anxiety. What's not to love?
We literally squeal over the Shadows bracelet from Sarah Graham in blackened steel and diamonds. Blackened steel jewelry? I'm totally down with that. It looks particularly stunning with yellow gold, too. But I'm not picky. Hee. Having done some fabrication, I have to say that steel is a bear to work with, compared to the relatively pliant properties of gold, which only goes so far toward splainin' the ghastly pricetag on this little deadly. Love This Stuff. Her rings are also superb.
Then there's the new accessory the brown truck of happiness delivered today. Peter called me up last week and told me about a sparkling deal on this baby over at Numrich, and said if I were smart, I'd snap it up. Well, I'm here to tell you, I'm a smart girl. I'm going to slap this puppy in my new Mossberg and I'll have a date with several representatives of the international symbol of peace in September, and we'll see who comes out on top, preferably with new feathers for her cap. ROWR! YEAH! Cause I'm a cougar, baby! Look out, little birdies! Gonna gitcha.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
For now, let's enjoy a celebrity Thursday, shall we?
Where will Ben
Affleck pop up next?
Why does he look like a floating head in this photo? He's at some charity event in Calgary. Uh. bless him for showing up and all, but...
He's looking rather Bob-Dobbs a la Church of the Subgenius. Emphasis on SUB, there.
And Bob Deniro plays guitar?
Nope. That's The Boss. Love those arm-wrap thingies.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A little over a month ago I commenced on a battery of scary tests of the medical variety which will culminate (I hope) in a visit to the doctor on Thursday. I’m hoping for a clean bill of health, but a host of scary possibilities loom before me and to say I’m experiencing a bit of angst behind it all would be a supreme understatement. The last time I was in this particular doctor’s office was 3 weeks ago. As I was leaving, I stopped to pay and they said they’d bill me after my insurance company paid their part. Mind you, I’ve been going to this particular office for about 5 years, so it’s not as though I just wandered in off the street and might be expected to act in a louche way wherein my financial obligations are concerned.
Okay. Great. Fine. Whatever.
Today I was sitting in my office, trying to get things wrapped up to be away from the office for a whole day on Thursday and my cell phone rang. The caller identified herself as being from the doctor’s office and I expected her to say she was confirming the upcoming appointment, but no. It went more like this:
SHE: I was calling with regard to your outstanding bill of $7.83 and I wanted to ask when you expect to pay it.
ME: I haven’t received a bill yet, and of course I’ll pay it.
SHE: Great. Would you like to pay that now with a credit card?
ME: Um, I’m coming in for a procedure on Thursday—wouldn’t it be more convenient for you if I pay you then?
SHE You can do that if you want to, but I’ll be happy to take your credit card and you can pay it now.
ME: I can certainly give you that number if you like. I’d hate for your office to go broke behind my eight dollars between now and Thursday.
SHE: There is no need for sarcasm. I’m just doing my job.
Funny thing is their office has the word “harmony” in the title, and this full-frontal aggressive sort of bill-collection style seems more like dissonance to me. Maybe I’m overreacting, but my foot kind of twitches when someone calls to harass me about not having paid a bill they have not yet sent me, implying that I mean to run off to Mexico with their goods or something.
Are you shitting me?
Do me a favor: tell me if I have cancer and I’ll leave you a blank check, bitch, and you tell ME when I’m paying you. It’s your world: I’m just living in it.
Argh. I WILL be bringing this up to the manager of their office.
Maybe it's time take all our marbles and secede.
I started on an odious project on Monday night. My apartment has a porcelain bathtub, but it has one of those ghastly acrylic tub surround enclosure type thingies. Now, to begin with, the tub is white, and the acrylic is sort of an ivory. Yuck. Before I moved in I told my maintenance crew to not bother with the cleanup, as I knew I was going to have to rout out the caulk and re-do it, and I knew if I'd instructed them to change it out, they would have simply smeared new caulk over the old muck and oomska. Not good enough. Even if I moved out before the mold ate its way through the new caulk, I'd always know it was there and would never have an enjoyable bath, as a result.
I don't blame the staff for doing things in this way because they've been trained by others over the years to do certain things in the most expeditious way, rather than the most frugal way. The irony is, this spirit of expeditiousness is the result of a wish to do things in the cheapest manner possible, when in fact, if they would do the frugal thing and do it right the first time, this would obviate the need to go back and re-do the slap-dash job multiple times in the future. Fortunately, things of this nature are the exception and not the rule. It's just that when it DOES crop up, it seems particularly senseless and irksome.
Same law of frugality applies when you make a purchase. If you buy a crap $15 pan of lesser materials, you'll probably ruin it and have to replace it every few years, whereas the $60 pan may last you a lifetime and give you more satisfactory cooking results over the course of that lifetime. Yes, it's painful initially, but that quality item never need be replaced. Simple, right?
So, here I am, digging out the old caulk around the tub surround. Whew! That's messy business. Turns out I'm chiseling/digging/razoring out multi layers of caulk laid over previous moldy caulk. Nice. Add to that these manifold caulks are of differing composition, so I may have to chip one layer away to find a layer that must be carefully cut away with a razor. I stopped in the middle and went to Home Depot and got a wet/dry vac for hoovering up the sludgey bits as I went along.
Add to the funky old caulk the supreme annoyance of these hideous wing-shaped wedges at either end of the tub side designed to keep water from splashing out beyond the shower curtain. Well, this wasn't ugly enough: some clever soul took rubber bits of weather-stripping like you'd put under a door and caulked them along the edge of the tub from one wedge to another, just as a little bit extra splash guard. In fact, they didn't even use one contiguous strip-- it was cobbled-together leftover bits, apparently. Did I mention the weatherstripping was gray? Well, it had to be painted a sort of whitish ivory sort of color, didn't it? *much eyerolling here* This had the effect of making the whole bathroom look several orders below the quality and construction of the rest of the apartment, in my humble opinion. Apocalyptic DIY.
This is where being manager serves me well: I'm going to let MY shower dry out a couple days and I'll re-caulk on Wednesday night. I was going to say if the results are not humiliating, I'll post the pictures Thursday, but after talking trash about someone else's craftsmanship and repair principles, it's sort of incumbent upon me to put up or shut up, innit? So, anyway, watch this space in a couple days for images of my adventures in home repair. It should be funny. More importantly, maybe you'll get to see some of my pearly blue turquoise nail polish. It's fabulous. Everyone says so.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The French call jellyfish "meduse" for Medusa, obviously. It's funny how things of such gossamer elegance can be so violently toxic.
The Dallas Aquarium had leafy sea dragons at one time (and may still do). They are exquisite and impossibly fragile-looking, and fascinating to watch, but it somehow seems horrific to me to keep them in an aquarium, no matter the size of the space. I don't know-- maybe they are as common as cockroaches in some distant ocean, but they have the air of rarity and remoteness about them and seem so out-of-place here. They are other-worldly and seem like they could come drifting through a cactus-filled moonscape, dancing to a Martin Denny soundtrack.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Britain's Department for the Environment is moving forward with plans to fine households 50 pounds each (about $100-ish) for not recycling and for producing excess waste. Apparently the goal is to reduce the amount of rubbish households produce in England. It seems they will run out of landfill space in about 9 years if there is not a serious reduction in the amount of rubbish produced by the average household. I understand this is a serious problem, and I'm not making light of that, but...
What I wonder is why everything has to be so bloody over-packaged in the first place? Here, if you want to buy a cd, for example, there's a whole bunch of plastic you've got to plough through to even get to the shiny bit you paid for. And food? Why do so many things have redundant wrappers? It's funny how big a role style and perception plays in how things are packaged and sold, and I suppose it affects how/when/what/why people chose to buy.
I must say, though, that at the gun show last weekend, I was walking around testing my new custom earplugs, I walked by a trader who had a massive table of components for re-loaders. The boxes were simple and to the point, and didn't seem to have been the product of a marketing campaign or even of a public relations department. Matter of fact, all the cartridge boxes I've seen don't look like products tweaked for a sexy sales scheme. I think that's really cool, actually.
Maybe a massive un-sexy campaign is really what we all need to be going for. We should, perhaps, make a study of the rugged utilitarian homeliness of, say, some certain Texas polygamist funranch for how to pare down and simplify.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
On a recent surfing trip to Nicaragua, MM arrived at a bar drunk and drank a whole lot more as he put the moves on all the women in the place. At one point, he apparently blew out a flip flop and then jumped on the bar and said in broken Spanish "I lost my flip flop."
Naturally, this was of tremendous concern to everyone.
MM was later seen sifting through a sewage ditch for his missing special left flip flop.
I hope he finds it. Really, I do.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Well, actually, yeah.
Along about a year ago, I posted a video of The Puppini Sisters' brilliant rendition of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights. This is and has remained a high water mark for re-makes of classic tunes for me.
Thursday was a major visit to my property by code compliance peoples. I got to the office by 8 (I usually drag in at my scheduled 10AM) and met the kind gentleman charged with inspecting the property. A maintenance person assisted him in his rounds of the property while I sat in the office tackling a pile of paperwork. Along about noon, I was wishing they'd wrap it up so I could go get lunch. Well, the minutes crawled by, but finally the inspection was over at nearly 2pm. I went to an eatery in the victory park area of town, and ordered my food. I chatted with the waiter about the Puppini Sisters (playing that evening) for a few minutes, and tucked into my lunch. Within a few minutes, three sirens entered the restaurant and sat a couple tables over from me. ZOMG! It was the Puppini Sisters. Though they weren't in their usual stagey glam-doll getups, they did look just as gorgeous as ever. The blond was wearing mustard-color lizard cowgirl boots. Yes!
I sat poking at my food and trying to peek discreetly at my heroines. I thought about approaching them and saying something politely praise-filled but non-gushy. Then I noticed a mushroom floating in a puddle of gravy on the hem of my light-blue blouse-- uh, um, maybe some other time. Probably they prefer to eat in peace, anyhoo. Still, it was a thrill to get a sneak preview.
Well, the good news is I just got home from seeing The Puppini Sisters at House of Blues, and it was a phenomenal show. Seriously, I had goosebumps. Anyhoo, if they come to your town and you don't go see them, well, you need your head examined. Fun show, all around, oozing artistry and brilliant musicianship. The act is wonderfully theatrical, and a good time was had by all. The girls also mentioned they love Dallas, that they'd never been so far south, and had each acquired several pair of boots today while in town. Yee Haw! I think we should perhaps give them honorary citizenship.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Here the article speaks of the renting of an apartment as a brutal task, but I don't think they parse the transaction in fair terms. I freely admit we live in a world where slumlords are more than happy to bilk tenants for all they are worth while not providing the services and facilities as promised in the contract. However, every major city in the USA has a health department and most of these cities have renters' rights organizations who come to the aid of renters for little or no money. Landlords who do not deliver goods and services as promised contractually should be subjected to the maximum penalties for reneging. As intimidating as the rental contract may be, it is as much for the protection of the tenant, if not moreso, than it is for the protection of the landlord/property owner. Renters should be aware of this and do all in their power to hold bad landlords accountable. However, most apartment communities fall in the middle of the road between the high-end luxury accommodations and the outright slum, so hopefully most of us will never have to deal with a nightmare scenario rental.
From the article:
It begins with a strip-search of one's personal data, a "privilege" for which the renter pays via a $35-plus screening or application fee, moves through an automated revenue-management system that imposes upon him the highest possible daily market rent and ends with add-ons such as mandatory renter's insurance, multiple pet fees or extra coverage for the owner's pool lest another tenant cause damage.
In truth, since I first rented an apartment more than 20 years ago, I always have understood a screening of my personal data and a check of my references would be included in the administrative process of determining if I were a good candidate for their community, as well as my ability to pay. What is so difficult to understand about this? Staff need to be paid for the time they spend vetting applications. We also pay a fee to a credit reporting service through which we check the applicant's history. This is reasonable. Why should anyone be indignant about proving themselves worthy of access to hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars' worth of property? When I hand a person the keys and the gate opener, I need to be absolutely confident that this new tenant will be respectful of their neighbors and of the community and property in general. I think our application process is the best method available to be worthy of the confidence other residents have placed in these apartments.
I don't use the credit number system as assessed by the credit reporting agencies, but instead have a process by which I contact employment and rental references, and check the credit report. If a person has outstanding medical debts, for example, we overlook those particular debts. That's a judgment call, and I think it's a kind and fair one. Perhaps my community is the exception, but the final call is mine to make, and I'm glad of it.
The article goes on to breathlessly proclaim that the following are realities just around the corner as made possible by online data:
Rental-specific credit scores-- I don't know what they mean by this, but some apartments do report to credit agencies when a tenant has stiffed them
Rents that change from day to day
Rental-specific credit scores
Checks of criminal, sex-offender and terrorism databases
Checks of housing courts, eviction notices and rental histories
Income verification that can include pay stubs, letters of employment and tax returns
Fees that effectively raise monthly rents
Rents that change from day to day-- If you are in a binding lease agreement, the property is bound by law to provide your apartment at the agreed-upon rate and for the agreed-upon term. This may be the most misleading portion of this article - it implies that like the price of gas, the amount you pay for your apartment may change from day to day. I believe what they actually mean is that the community may change the rate for future rentals from day to day. This is natural. You may have signed a 2 or 3 year lease, yet the taxes on the property may have increased to such a degree that higher rents must be charged, and thus the person who moves in to a unit identical to yours may be paying significantly more.
Criminal checks-- If I'm letting some random bloke from off the street move into the apartment next door, wouldn't you prefer I vetted him/her to see if they are a sex offender, for example? The fact that my community excludes people with violent or sexual felonies is a plus, in my opinion. Martha Stewart could live here. Mike Tyson couldn't.
Checks of housing courts/rental histories - So? Your history indicates your likelihood to pay and in many ways tells of your character. I'm an open-minded person, and I know that people can change. If they have a bad rental reference, I'm willing to hear them out and have in some cases concluded that the record did not necessarily reflect reality. In the cases where I have erred in favor of the applicant, they have always proven my leap of faith well-founded.
Income verification - Duh, ability to pay. If you are self-employed and I can't contact your human resources department, then I need some tangible proof to demonstrate to the property owners that you, indeed are who you say you are and are able to afford to live here. Those income-related documents also demonstrate that you didn't make your money by running a meth-lab, most likely.
Fees that effectively raise monthly rents - I quite agree that the upcharge for things like vehicle parking fees can be over-done. I once chose NOT to lease an apartment I really wanted because they charged $65 per vehicle for residents to park on the property, even though they were in an underpopulated industrial area with boatloads of space available. But that is the marketplace-- I took my business elsewhere, and that is everyone's prerogative.
I suppose what bothers me more than anything is the perpetually whiny-arsed worldview that every transaction involves a villain and a sucker. There is a vast array of rentals available in every American city, and if you take the time to shop, you'll find a place that suits you, I guarantee it. That is how the marketplace works. If you take the time to look around and educate yourself, there is no reason you can't find a perfect place. ALSO, look for inroads with the leasing agent or manager to open up possible negotiation. I have sometimes taken a little off the rent occasionally, or have thrown in a free covered parking space or found small ways to make the move-in easier for the new tenant. Sometimes someone asks for something I simply can not give, but I will try to find other ways to help. Perhaps instead I can change fixtures which will be improvements which will remain after you leave--please feel free to ask me to install a new dishwasher, stove and/or refrigerator. Remember that every decent apartment community expects to replace these appliances sooner or later, and this can be a great way to enhance your rental experience while not hugely impacting the landlord's bottom line. It never hurts to ask, and I want you to choose my community, and I do genuinely want my residents to be happy.
The sad fact is that if economy is your prime consideration, you will make some compromises in the areas of comfort, luxury and even possibly safety. This would also be a great time to consider that if you opt to live in a state which allows you the right to protect yourself in your own home, then your home will be as safe as you make it. I recommend Texas, in particular.
In conclusion, I think that rather than parasitic, the tenant/landlord relationship is best when viewed as symbiotic. Renters need a place to live, and landlords provide same. Yes, someone is making money in the process, but often times less than you might think, and the tradeoff is that you as renter are not dealing with tax issues, city code compliance and the host of other tediousness that is involved in keeping a property of any size running and legal. The landlord who agreed 10 months ago to the rate you are paying may have had a massive property tax hike and they are paying increased energy costs to keep the community utilities running, and all this must be paid for on the rental income they agreed to in 2007. Caveat emptor applies as much now as ever. True, renting an apartment is not of the gravity of buying a home or a car, but it is where you'll hang your hat for 6, 12 months, or more, so it behooves you to take the time to really poke around and investigate what's out there. By all means, trust your gut instincts and don't rent from someone you feel is disingenuous. But more than anything, look at it as an exciting opportunity to try on a different slice of life than you have experienced before and without the scary connotations of the longer-term commitment of maintenance etc. of buying a property of your own. Unlike the trials of home ownership, in most apartments when your terlit or your A/C go on the blink, well, that's the landlord's problem. I call those very easy terms, indeed.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tu vuo' fa' l'americano
You're wearing trousers with a tag on the back
and a cap with the visor turned up,
parading around Tuleto
like a lady's man trying to be seen
You're acting all american,
listen here: who's asking you to?
You want to be all trendy,
but if you drink "whisky and soda"
you always end up sick!
You're dancing rock and roll,
and playing baseball,
but where'd you get the money
for the Camel cigarettes?
You're acting all american,
but you're born in Italy, listen here:
there's nothing you can do,
You're acting all american,
How can your loved one understand
if you're speaking half american?
When you're out loving uder the moon,
where do you get a phrase like "I love you"?
You're acting all american,
but you're born in Italy, listen here:
there's nothing you can do,
You're acting all american,
...whisky soda e rock and roll
Had this one over on the diorama, but it's from before I moved the pew out of storage a few weeks ago. The important thing is you can see my fabulous table. What's funny is I set the scene and thought I had everything the way I wanted it, and when I looked at the image on the computer, it drove me nuts that the Mexican sugar-mold candelabra was off-center from the middle of the table. *shrug*
Anyway, I still like the subdued, washed-out easteregg colours with the fiery red of the glass candle basins and the light filtered through tulle on the windows. Surprisingly, when I took the photo, you could well see the skyscrapers in the near distance through the sheers, but they don't read in the image. Just as well. It's oppressing enough, as it is.
Anyhoo, this is that fabulous table I got at a great junk store called Rustic Relics in Quanah Texas, up in the panhandle. It's the coolest store. I got the most fabulous shit there.
One of the fellows who runs the shop got this table from an elderly couple he was doing handyman stuff for in New Mexico in the 70s. He said they had all kinds of incredible things, and this old pine table with the butterfly joins was something he drooled over, and they asked him to choose something from their things to take for himself, and this was the piece. I'm guessing I'm just the third owner, then. Hopefully, in 200 or 300 years, someone will slobber over this table and wonder about its history, and about the meals consumed there and who has sat with their elbows propped thereon. I hope it has a rich and storied history-- however untold--to carry in its secret heart of hearts.
I seem to be having a drama-a-minute these days.
I woke up Tuesday feeling a tightness in my face, wondering why.
I left the doglet with a friend to dog-sit all weekend. When I picked her up on Monday afternoon, my friend had just bathed her. Well, apparently, I'm allergic to something she washed the doglet with. My eyes were nearly swollen shut, and my right arm has a rash. Didn't dare to wear makeup, and I felt like I looked like Michael Gambon.
NOT that it's bad to look like MG, but he's, like, in his 70s, and he's male. I take umbrage at being made to look like a 70 something male whilst still in the early stages (and denial) of the early 40s. It just ain't right.
Oh, and I haven't noticed a difference with the benadryl. Meh.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I finally got some earplugs made for myself at the show. The earplug guy was a great wit and made the process more fun and less tedious. Next time, though, I'm going to have him make a cast of my ears and send off for the glitter foam plugs for me. They'll match my retainers, even if they are ghastly expensive.
I got to try out the new earplugs when I went shooting Sunday with Holly, JPG, Peter and LawDog [I am so not worthy!]. We all shot lots of things, and Peter let us all put some Crimson Trace grips through their paces. Seems they'd make an excellent training tool to work on steadying the hands, actually- the laser looked like I was doing a spirograph thingie- wobbling about in a floral loopy type pattern. The fun new discovery for me was LD's Henry .22 rifle, which he graciously allowed me to keep re-loading and shooting.
Peter and LD(two of the best folks you could ever hope to meet) coached me on my new 20 ga feminine protection, and after I was handling it more comfortably, the shooty goodness commenced. First was the birdshot, and with more and more specific instruction (yes, nose-over-toes went through my head all day Monday), I went on to make a hash of a paper plate with slugs. That was fuuuuuunnnn.
But, I did have to go back for more of that Henry action. The funny thing is what a hoot it is to fire that thing, and particularly after shooting the shotgun, the .22 felt like shooting water at clown heads at a midway shooting gallery. Fun stuff. I want one of those.
Monday I did the round robin of AT&T wireless stores, finally being sent to their equipment repair center. They are going to overnight me a new Centro. Meanwhile, I went to Target Monday evenign and picked up a go-phone for $16.24, slipped my SIM card in and Bob's your uncle: same old phone, only with 14 messages racked up. Yup. Totally spoiled.
Went to Mom and Pop's for dinner Monday night, and Dad was showing me a .22 rifle he's been working on. He asked me if I want to go dove hunting with him this year, and I said "oh yeah, I totally want to shoot the international symbol of peace." Um, I'd better get to work if I'll be able to hit a moving target by September!
Don't you just LOVE a gun show weekend? I'm starting to...
Sunday, June 15, 2008
My dad is the best. I've said it before and at great length, so I'll not type endlessly here.
I was going through some photos recently and I came across this one of me and these old pics of papa. I've never posted even a teeny bit of my likeness here before, but this one is SOOOOO long ago that I suppose you might not recognize me. This was about 16 or 17 years ago, and Dad and I had been fishing on Lake Cleburne all night. [Yes, I forgive myself for that ugly jacket and that beastly hat. It was cold and it was the only cap I had, and I liked it because it was so immaculately tacky.] We had several fishing poles staged out over the edge of the boat beside each of us. As I cast one line, I said "I'm going to catch a fish with this one tonight." Nothing was biting, but we had a nice night occasionally chatting a bit, and just being still and quiet. It was a lot of fun. In amongst all that not-biting/non-action the fish were doing, we kept seeing a big fish on the depth finder. We stayed for hours and hours knowing that big fish would eventually hit one of the many attractive baits we were dangling. Well, finally about 4 or 5 AM, we gave up. Dad started reeling in his lines, and I picked up that first pole I'd meant to catch a fish on, and I reeled for a while. We talked as I reeled and reeled. Dad had reeled in 2 lines and mine didn't seem like it was ever going to reel in. I said "oh, that's weird, my line is run all the way out and it's at the knot on the end-- it's not winding up at all." Dad said "you've got a fish on that line." With some great effort, we finally got the line reeled in and turns out it was this 18 pound beastie of a catfish on the end. We should have let it go, because any such leviathan would surely be inedible, utterly. We gave it to a relative who cooked it with unsatisfactory results.
Anyhoo, Dad's fish photo was taken when he was in Panama in the army in 1963, a couple years before I was born. I'm hoping this is not an endangered species or something. I liked the toothsome symmetry of Dad's fish photo and mine. The other photo, of course, is of Dad during senior year of high school. Dad's always been a very handsome man, but he's unaffected by it-- not ruined or vain as people so often tend to be. Dad is the all-around smartest person I've ever met, and the kindest and best. He's a good-natured soul, but a phenomenal badass. He's everything that is admirable in a person, and I aspire to be as much like him as possible, even if it's only to say that occasionally a very large fish jumps on my line.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you.
When I worked a 2-10:30PM shift, sometimes I'd have to work until 2:30 AM. More than once, I found myself in a grocery store at 2:45am, standing and staring slack-jawed on the trash bag aisle, trying to work out what I was doing there and which package to buy.
Well, I'm wiped out, and I've found the youtube equivalent of the trashbag aisle: Latte Art.
Then there's this latte printing machine. I dunno, latte matrix?
Okay, it's the fatigue speaking.
I'm stupefied and feel like I could watch hours of this crap. Going to peel myself away and go to bed and post something in the morning. Saturday was a great day, but I am plumb tuckered out.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Talking to the BBC about the end of his 25 Live Tour, which began in 2006, he said: "Mainly the reason is because I'm 45 and I think pop music should be about youth culture. It shouldn't be an endurance test."
Wow. Sounds oddly like common sense. When you compare this to Madonna whose career will never end, it's actually rather refreshing. Then again, the Rolling Stones have 20 years on Madonna, and they're still clutching for dear life. I don't know which is more disturbing.I know he's had his very public embarrassments, but that statement sounds like he may be more down-to-earth than your average mega-star. Good luck with that, George.
Um, sweetie? They're just not cute. Heelarious are faux high-heeled baby shoes.
Coming soon: sonogram photo retouching so your fetus looks sexier.
Separated at Birth:
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Isn't this the most dazzling thing you've seen in days? Er, hours? Minutes, perhaps?
It certainly is for me, and I'm in ecstasies over the thought of this sofa yachting its way down the Nile, whose exotic waters lap gently at the barge-like structure as it majestically wafts downstream through the sultry night air.
From the distant shore, twinkling party lights dance as the sound of laughter, clinking glasses and "Midnight at the Oasis" drift within earshot on fragrant winds.
Somewhere nearby, a flatulent camel turns its ponderous head--eyes half-staff--to regard the white albatross making its voyage out to sea. Its hide ripples, undulating nerves set ringing with sudden demanding sensation. Oh. Another flea.
Where are the cushions?
Is this the original upholstery?
Why oh why did someone ever kick this sofa to the curb in Oak Lawn on Wednesday?
I'm so glad they did, else I would have missed a rare treat. I had to pull over and giggle maniacally. I think I frightened the passenger, though.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Um, this has been bugging me for days, and I don't know why it's taken me this long to work up a rolling head of steam, but there you are. It's 5:25 Wednesday morning, and I woke up annoyed.
Why are Americans addicted to crisis? The disproportionality of the way people react to news events is staggering.
Remember a handful of years ago when there there was much hue and cry about banks raising ATM fees? Well, the bank would glean what amounted to a small percentage of what you'd withdrawn from the ATM, yet that percentage pales in comparison to federal, state and local taxes which virtually double the price of gasoline. How about the fact that you have to work until May for the US government before you get to keep what you earn for the rest of the year? RILLY? You're going to gripe about giving Wells Fargo an extra $2.50 when you withrdraw $200, but you'll give the government a pass on a relationship which in other arenas of business would be called usury or indentured servitude? No, they'll slog on, thinking "one day, massah gonna set me free" and meanwhile they are all moral outrage about a few dollars. Give me a break.
So, the crisis of the moment involves tomatoes. If you watch the news, then apparently half the country is freaking the hell out about tomatoes and salmonella poisoning. McDonald's is going all drama-queen on us and will not be serving tomatoes for the immediate future.
Because, um, everyone knows tomato farmers inject tomatoes with salmonella. Or they use salmonella for fertilizer, right?
It's called "washing" the tomatoes and using clean cutting implements, morons!
If you keep a clean work surface, use clean knives, wash the fruit thoroughly and keep the cut fruit at an appropriate temperature, then you won't have salmonella growing on it. How hard is that?
So instead of these restaurants which have sickened people with their unclean practices cowboying up and having a little tighter quality control, they'll make a big public show of stopping using tomatoes in their products, as if the tomato farmers they are crippling are to blame for sick customers.
Grow up. Wash your food. Clean your damned kitchens. Buy tomatoes and eat them-- they are good for you.
The sad thing about common sense is that there's nothing common about it any more. We'll sit with our asses snugly ensconced in our hellbound handbaskets and babble fits of righteous indignation about teacup tempests. Our lives are so insulated from real peril that we collectively have no ability to discern what are real crises and what are just the senseless events which simply will happen on occasion.
[Update - Hols informs me that she read that the salmonella was in the soil and thus the tomatoes are imbued with the pathogen, though only in the round and Roma varieties. Meh. There I go, half-cocked and full of bull. *snort*]
Pacifism Fails in the Face of Sovereign Evil
If the U.N. won't act on its own mandate, then we should use force to combat immutable evil
by Nat Hentoff
June 3rd, 2008 12:00 AM
This article refers to the current state of the ongoing unpleasantness in Myanmar.
The more recent VV issue features another article by Ms. Hentoff regarding the Sudanese genocide.
A Third Sudanese Genocide: General al-Bashir's Final Solution
There were two and a half million dead in the last two Sudan genocides—and now a third is on the way
I'm curious about what appears to me to be an obscene contradiction-- that Burmese or Sudanese people are worthy of saving from genocide, but not Kurds. I mean, these articles seem to admonish GWB to DO something, since the international community is sitting on its hands. Yet all the rest of the while, it seems we have constantly harangued that we need to look to the international community for cues and to not intervene in the goings-on of sovereign nations. Also, the VV has made myriad bales of hay by flogging the idea that there was no justification for any intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan, and yet we're sposta charge into these other complicated situations and prevent people from being killed?
I was at Lee Harvey's with some friends Tuesday, hanging out, talking and laughing. One man kept inserting little crap comments about GWB, even though politics in no way related to the conversation. Regardless what I think of our actions in Iraq, I am much fatigued of what appear to me to be hypocritical assertions that one domestic situation need be taken in hand by the USA, and yet another attempt to do just that is met with withering criticism.
I've said it before but it looks like our President is in a damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't position. It really makes you wonder why any sane person would apply for that job in the first place.
Peter posted this story a couple days back about a 22 Stone (308 pound) Bull Mastiff that got the better of a would-be intruder.
Here's another Bull Mastiff in the news-- this one weighing in at a mere diminutive 14 stone, but was big enough to be seen on the Google Earth satellite photo. That's a whole lot of dogflesh.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Um, I'm all about eating animals, even in the fish-bait sushi-fied form. We climbed to the top of the chum bucket for a reason, and by golly, they'd eat us if they had a chance, so I say we git while the getting's good.
That said, I think this video is a bit twisted. And wait: is that Van Halen's "Top of the World," as in living on top of? Yes, nothing says "mad knife skills" to the Japanese teewee watching public like 80s American hairband gods. I'm just staggered by this scenario - I mean, I know I eat a lot of fish and they probably don't have a grand time of it on the way to my plate, but to be fileted and plopped back into the tank just seems, oh, I dunno, uh, kinda mean.
And what's with them blurring out the fish as it's being skinned alive? Witness protection program? I mean, if it's such an impressive achievement to skin a live fish without it writhing in agony, why do the identity-protection thing? If we see that fish swimming about denuded of his hide, I think we're going to recomonize him anyhoo.
Speaking of being denuded of life-preserving skins, why does this chef bring to mind the IRS?
What do you think? Am I being too thin-skinned?
Monday, June 09, 2008
OMG! Talk on the phone? To a person from the internet? Uh, I don’t know about this, but I suppose it would be rude to refuse.
So, in a very kindly and understanding way, she listened bemusedly as I prattled without drawing breath for about an hour on the phone one Saturday in March last year. A few more phone calls later, I’d calmed down enough that I let her get a word in edgewise, and it turned out I was right to like her so much.
Okay. I confess I’m a spaz and it takes a special person to let me settle down and be at peace—that almost never happens-- and she had the patience to do so. About a month later, we met at a restaurant and this was another hurdle. Turns out my trepidation was misplaced, as she was warm, lovely and very welcoming. I loved her immediately, and it turns out she's the big sister I never knew I needed.
Since that time, she’s introduced me to a whole bunch of wonderful people, and has even been at my side as I’ve hatched into a wobbly baby chick out at the gun range. It’s a wonderful thing going shooting with a girlfriend.
Yes, I know this is meant to be about telling you how much I love Holly and what a special friend she is, when in fact I’m just removing all doubt that I’m a perennially juvenile sort and perhaps a little unusual, but I think it says a lot that Holly would have the patience and kindness to see through all the bullcrap and love me as a friend in spite of my special needs.
Holly’s birthday is today, and I hope it’s wonderful.
I love you, Hols. You’re fabulous. Thank you for being such a dear friend.
Amazingly, I got a tremendous amount accomplished on Sunday with my wonky toe and all. It's manifesting the colors of several varietal grapes. Meh. Maybe I'll put a picture up soon, but not today.
Anyhoo. I needed to rearrange 75% of the furniture to make things fit properly, so see that ginormous cabinet with the sliding glass doors in the background? Well, I managed to move it to its new place with the help of a single neighbor. In truth, he did most of the work, but it was surprisingly easy to shift across the smooth concrete floor. Yay! Concrete's not just a great surface for dog pee.
I spent some goodly bit of time disgorging the cabinet of its contents, and then re-filling it. This is where I keep my best cookware and serving pieces, as well as collectible glassware and da booze. I thought it had been several years since I'd turned on the Jetson's TV (panasonic Orbitel TR-005, circa 1969-ish), and I was wondering if it still works. Well, it does, but it had a much better picture when I use to watch Marshal Dillon on it every night at 2am. The sound is great, actually. The images are ghostly, though.
Check out those aerials, though-- methinks this little Martian has a Napoleon complex with those outrageously long antennae.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
After the 14 steps down, there's a landing with 3 steps down to the concrete floor in my apartment.
So, um, I had an exhausting day Saturday speaking to tour groups outdoors for hours. It was really hot out, but at least there was a nice, dry breeze. Anyhoo, it was great to get home and into the A/C. I went upstairs and changed out of my sweaty clothes and kicked off my boots, leaving on my socks. Doglet was outside and yelping to be let back in, so I went downstairs in my sockfeet. (you know what's coming, right?) I let her in and she squirted past and down the 3 steps to the concrete floor, narrowly avoiding being stepped on by yours truly. Well, I didn't seat my foot squarely on the step, and it shot out from under me, making me fall onto the top of that foot on the next step and (I believe) breaking my middle toe. Yowch.
But wait! There's more!
So then I completed my trajectory down to the concrete floor, where I landed in a position which I think would defy the minds which crafted Yoga and Kama Sutra. I landed on my left hip and right knee simultaneously. I don't know how that's possible, and I think I couldn't get into that position again for any amount of money. I dunno, splits? In that instant of exquisite agony, my mind flashed "damn! what hurts worst?" Actually, that moment, the hip was the real kicker, followed closely by the knee and then the broken toe, which I thought might be several broken toes.
Anyway, it was terrible. I had to lay down and take a nap-- if I didn't move, things didn't seem to hurt so much. Now the worst is my knee, then the toe, and the hip doesn't hurt at all- nice when the padding does what it's sposta.
Anyway, there went my industrious Saturday night I'd planned, riding waves of domestic zeal and whatnot. Oh well, I'll clean and organize tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day, and it'll feel better then, right?
I think I already posted Naked Girl Falling Down the Stairs by the Cramps. I seem to remember feeling slightly embarrassed that Dad would see Lux Interior on my blog, even though he was on very good behaviour in that video, albeit in a red latex jumpsuit, patent leather pumps and a full complement of makeup.
At least I wasn't naked.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008
One day late and a dollar short, I wish the very best and happiest of birthdays to the ever-fetching Breda, who encourages my shoe-sickness by telling me that my footwear obsession is my duty, as I am taking one for the team. Well, for once I'll step up to the plate and be a team player.
Breda is smart, sexy, a kickass shooter and-- if I'm totally honest-- gives me girl wood.
Here's hoping the coming year is your best so far, honey!
Am I a hardened cynic?
Am I irrational for believing that a whole lot of us have consumed additional, non-listed ingredients in fast food fare?
I honestly am careful not to complain about food in a restaurant until AFTER it's been served, and I never treat food service workers in a condescending manner-- I harbour no delusions about who is really in control of the transaction. Of course, I naturally tend to err on the side of politeness anyway, so I hope I haven't evoked the wrath of a vengeful, tubercular milkshake maven at Braum's, but who knows?
When I was about 9 or so, I remember seeing a scene from The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman on television. Now, this was the mid-70s, and in my household, I WAS the remote control, so that meant I noticed some crap on telly that would otherwise not have registered a whit with me. Flipping channels once, we watched a scene at the end of this movie. Miss JP is a freed former slave living in a mean hut, when a rich white lady happens by in her carriage one day and asks for a glass of water. Miss JP recognizes white lady as the young woman with whom she played as a child and who was also her friend through adolescence. Now the old white lady is condescending and just like all the rest of 'em, so as Miss JP turns to bring the glass of water to former friend, she hocks a loogie into it, and then savours the sight of white lady drinking it down.
I really wonder about people. There are a couple people whose drink I would be happy to spit in, pro bono, baby. People like Hitler, Pol Pot and such as that-- yeah, I might make that extra effort to make the experience special, but generally? To just regular folks? I really wonder what inspires people to be so very nasty?
Whatever is wrong with people who would do such a thing, that's one bug I'm glad I never caught.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I'd flipped onto a talk radio station, and there was a commercial for some sort of insurance which stated that apartment renters were something like 10 times more likely to have their homes burgled than single-family dwellings, and that insuring their possessions through the advertised company was a way to even the odds on this "unfair statistic."
Um, since when is it fair for anyone's home to be burgled? I mean, it's not as though there's some US recommended lifetime requirement that one's home be burgled 1.3 times. Misery loves company, I s'pose, and people like to know that if they have to endure horrid things, that at least these horrid things will happen to other people, too. *much eye-rolling here* This trucking with the notion of fairness in how the smackdown is meted out reeks of schoolyard-levels of reason and maturity, i.e., not very.
Come to that, the whole notion of insurance (and we can't live without it, can we?) is ridiculous, in fact. The idea that trading x hours' salary a month will protect you in case something crappy happens seems tremendously wrong-headed, to me.
I love Terry Pratchett's version of the in sewer ants polly sea in Discworld novels. It's treated with the very incredulity it deserves. If only we could shift gears and adopt so sensible an approach, but we never will-- we're besotted with the misleading vision of lala land and the need for impossibilities like fairness. And there will be a never-ending string of takers who will whisper pretty words and assurances of security in exchange for filthy lucre, and still, there will be no guarantees of positive outcome. How is that insurance?
Bad things will happen, no matter what. Grow up, already.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Anyone have any experience with old-age senility in a dog, and if so, have any of you had success treating your pet with anipryl? On Halloween, she'll be 17, and this from a breed with a life expectancy of 15. I just don't know what to expect, but if a medicine will help her be a little less loopy, that'd be nice. I miss her personality. :(
Doglet doesn't recognize people--even me. She sometimes gets confused and just stands and barks at a blank wall. And she seems spacey and disoriented a lot of the time. The good news is that she doesn't seem to be in any pain, but I'd like to see a glimmer of recognition again, and maybe just one little tail wag.
Monday, June 02, 2008
One reason I think I'm excellent at sales is that I'm not a salesperson.
Yes, I know the product I'm offering and when prospective residents come to the property and I highlight what I think are the best features of the community and of the available spaces, but only up to a point. My strong inclination is that an intelligent prospect will of course recognize the inherent benefits of my property versus other possibilities on the market. If what is on offer is a thing of quality and as advertised, my feeling is no manipulation need be part of the process. Since I first happened into this business, I've had many people tell me I was the pivotal factor in their decision making process--that they felt my property was well and conscientiously managed, and I take this as a challenge and strive to excel that expectation. On that score, I think I do a damned good job. In fact, the higher standard to me is that I try to run my property the way I try to live my life: as it should be.
There is a lot of competition in the marketplace, and this is definitely a buyer's market. However, my community is small and there is only one like it, and my turnover is small and such limited availability is a very model of supply-and-demand economics.
Working in this industry has been a crash course in human behaviour. Some people are chatty and telegraph what they are thinking or simply blurt. Others still are more reticent and soak in the information, playing their thoughts close to their vest. Occasionally, I sense the instant a person decides my property is not what they are looking for. I always am cordial and politely yet efficiently wrap up the encounter, offering my best wishes in their search, and thanking them for considering my community.
Obviously, every person who happens to look at my property is not necessarily someone with whom I would want to deal with on a regular basis. One of the most vile people I know gave great lip service to "Customer for Life," a book by a much-ballyhooed luxury car sales magnate. I admit I own this book, and I disagree with some fundamental aspects of their sales philosophy. They seem to believe that one should make every sale at any cost and exhaust all resources to meet the most exacting demands of a client. I, however, believe that a sale which compromises my staff, the property owners and/or my other residents is not a sale worth making. No one says this publicly, but the fact is there are some folks so supremely unpleasant and inherently dishonest that you actually want them to take their business elsewhere. Life is too short to brook the foolishness of someone whose cap is bent on irrational demands and all taking and no giving.
I've had a space on the market for a bit, and it's really an adorable space. There's been a lot of buzz about this space, and several people seemed very interested. Last week a man came by and I could tell he knew this was the right space for him. He sized the rooms up, and mentally arranged his furniture. He asked politely about availability and if my make-ready schedule would work with his. He asked if anyone else had expressed interest, and I said honestly that I had two more appointments to show it later in the day. A person intent on sales at any cost would have chosen that moment to say "if you give me a check for your deposit, I'll hold this for you until you make up your mind." Instead, I said warmly "I think this is a great apartment and I hope you will keep us in mind as you make your final decision." He left and I was certain he'd be back, that he'd found his next home. I knew instinctively he would be a good resident, an asset to any community he chose, and I looked forward to seeing him again.
A full week passed and one morning I heard an eager, fresh voice on the phone of someone I'd shown the apartment to the day before. They excitedly stated they'd submitted their application online, had I reviewed it yet and did I require further information. I pulled the credit report immediately, processed their app fee and contacted their references. Everything went smoothly and this person was a shoo-in with impeccable credit and excellent rental history. I thought wistfully for a brief moment of the earlier guy who seemed perfect, and assumed I'd misread his interest, or that he'd decided not to move. There are thousands of reasons a person's prospects might change, so I dismissed him from my mind. About an hour after I called to congratulate the new tenant, the earlier guy called and announced that he'd finally made up his mind, that he would take the space-- he knew it was perfect for him and that he'd take it as soon as I could have it ready. I then had the odious task of telling him that his ideal, perfect space was no longer available, that he was mere hours too late.
Of course, I could have told him this when we first spoke. I could have said "this space may be available for two more months, or someone could rent it in five minutes." We are dealing with the unknown quantities of may, might and can. However, I know with absolute certainty that sooner or later, the space will rent, and it's important to me that the renter knows he made up his own mind, and that he was not pushed to make a hasty decision. If I managed a community with hundreds of cookie-cutter apartments rather than scores of unique units, then my approach might be different. My property, however, is singular - there is no other like it to be had.
I wonder about people who opt to live with forever salving the sting of missed opportunities. I believe in a marketplace rife with a dazzling array of artifice and shabbiness, one shouldn't have to trumpet the blindingly obvious. I believe if you offer something of quality and rarity, you shouldn't have to make a hard sell, and I simply refuse play such games. If this property is right for someone, it's right. If it's not, we can all be grownups and walk on. Telling people what’s best for them is not my job in life. Far be it from me to club a man over the head and drag him back to his own cave.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
At moments I have questioned the wisdom of living where I work and none more so than now. I just walked my dog late Saturday night, only to see a resident running out to his car sporting only a shirt, y-fronts and a sheepish grin.
There are some things of which I'd prefer to remain blissfully unaware.