Saturday, February 28, 2009

Transfigured Beethoven

If you like classical music, check out my friend Petronel Malan's new cd.


Friday, February 27, 2009

You know I'm open-minded about shoes, but...

...this pair is beyond the pale. The MBT "Lami" Mary Jane Walking Shoe is beneath beastly.

From the ad:

Single hook-and-loop strap secures a sporty mary jane walking shoe outfitted with a patented Masai Sensor sole that has a soft surface similar to walking on a sandy beach. The natural instability this creates activates the supporting muscle system and conditions the body simply by walking. With continued wear, benefits can include improved circulation and posture; reduced stress and pressure on the back, feet and joints; and an overall toned appearance.

Last time I checked, instability was not desirable in shoes -- sprains and breaks and whatnot. Ew. I mean, this is a perfect shoe if you're a Power Puff Girl Otherwise, not so much.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

...and the horse they rode in on...

Several weeks back I had a job interview for a position I really wanted. I walked into the office and immediately liked the environment. All the folks there seemed nice and friendly with the exception of the unfortunate creature on the phone who gave me the stinkeye, and it seemed like a place I could feel at home. Ya can't win 'em all, right?

At first in the interview, I spoke with two women. They seemed pleased with me, and I felt very comfortable. I started thinking this was going very well. They asked me to stay there and then the women left the room. A couple minutes later, the director came back and said that they were going to re-interview the top three candidates and that since I was there, they'd go ahead and re-interview me then, that I was in the top 3 of the 11 interviewed. Naturally, I was pleased. Three more panelists came in to ask me more questions. Some of my answers were recapitulations of earlier answers, and again, I felt comfortable and that I was holding my own.

The job would involve marketing and promotional work, albeit in an industry completely different from my own. I do a lot of event planning and promotional and advertising type tasks, so it seemed to me this would not be that much of a stretch. Clearly they liked me, I liked them, and this seemed a good fit. I started really feeling they would choose me.

The second group of panelists left me alone with the director again, and she asked if I had any further questions. I said I felt we'd covered my questions, and then she began talking, sort of riffing to perhaps fill the time. She said this would be the first time she alone had trained someone for this position and that she was concerned about how it would go. IF the wheels fell off at all in this process, THIS is where it happened: I said "I'm composing a procedures manual for the person who will follow me in my current position, and if you'd like, if I'm in this marketing position, I can compose the procedures documents as we go along."

*cue record scratch*

Came the response "oh, we have a procedures manual," and I think she may have taken umbrage at my suggestion.

Y'see, if I were hiring someone, I would take such an offer as the mark of someone interested in using their time and skills to help others to do an equally good job. I would see that as a mark of initiative and intelligence. I would want that person working in my organization.

She went on to say another person who'd been hired once wrote a computer program to enter and maintain their filing system, but that they had always used a paper system devised by the company's founder, and that they were not interested in changing their system, thank you very much. *cautionary tale, much?*

She said they'd make the decision in about 4 days. This was a Thursday. On Monday, I called Fraulein Direktor and thanked her for the opportunity to interview and expressing my continued interest in the position. She bluntly told me they'd filled the position. I thanked her and hung up the phone. A few minutes later in my mailbox, I found a poorly written form letter [Dear Applicant - seriously - it said Dear Applicant] which had been mailed to me on Friday, the day after the interview. The letter contained a list of bullet points, any one or combination of which may have been the reason the job was not extended to me. Criminal History? SRSLY? Lack of References? Untrue. Why could they not simply say someone else was more appropriate to the task rather than imply that it was in some way unseemly or vulgar for me to have aspired to this position?

Anyway, for the past few weeks I have puzzled over this turn of events, and felt a little sad not to have gotten that job despite the horribly gauche rejection letter. Then Wednesday night I talked to a dear friend on the phone and she expressed horror that I should lament not being chosen for the job. Well, I hadn't thought of it that way. She said how patently ridiculous it was that this company so stalwartly refused to simplify their lives by utilizing computers for their record keeping. She said they were obviously morons for not desperately clutching at the opportunity to have a diamond like me on their staff. Srsly.

This sort of turned my thinking around - I'm smart, capable and damned handy to have around-- what's wrong with them if they don't recognize this? Moreover, the director rattling on at the end of the interview about her own insecurities with regard to training did not bode well for her degree of organization. Perhaps my statement of confidence with regard to organization was intimidating.

After all, I never told her her job would be safe after I arrived. Oh well.

Louis CK - Everything is amazing right now, and nobody's happy...

This video is unbelievably funny, but can't be embedded, so you'll have to hop over there to watch it.

Flying is the worst, because people come back from their flights and they tell you their story, and it's a horror story. They act like their flight was a cattle car in Germany in the '40s-- that's how bad they make it sound... Really? Did you partake in the miracle of flight, you non-contributing zero? You're FLYING! It's amazing!Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going "omigawd! WOW!" You're sitting in a chair in the sky.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bad Kitty Stories

Mary and my mom went to school together, and they've remained friends lo these many years. Sometime along about 15 or so years ago, Mom and Dad went to California and paid a call on Mary. Mary had a cat named Magic, and Dad told me she'd said not to pet Magic. Magic wrapped herself around Dad's ankle, and he thought she must have taken a shine to him. He reached down to pet her, and she did her best to unglove Dad's mitt. Not cool, kitty.

A couple years ago, I went with Mom to visit Mary on her farm in Arkansas. Whaddayaknow if Magic wasn't still alive and kicking? And maiming. And mayhemming and hawing. Mom had warned me about that cat. Magic sat across the room and glowered. Magic made me very uncomfortable, but after a while, I sort of forgot she was there. I reached down at one point to tie my shoe and barreling across the wide open carpet came a bristling furball tipped with poison-tipped fleschettes in the form of one Magic. Damned cat. It's probably still alive, too, being too mean to die...

Someone I used to know had an evil female cat named Rascal. Rascal was known for eviscerating hapless visitors to the home with disembowelment skills to rival those of a sloth. Rascal was apparently bonded to one person only, and everyone else was fair game. You might have guessed Rascal was free to terrorize nature indoors and out. One day Rascal's person was big&pregnant&muy hormonal when some crazy bitch came to her door with the remains of Rascal plastered over the inside of a clear plastic bag, having found Rascal in the road. The woman said "Is this your cat?" Who says there aren't good neighbors around these days???

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

my nerdy little secret...

Yeah, I know I've mentioned it before, but I track my currency at WheresGeorge.

Yes, it's the geekiest thing I do(I hope!). I joined about a year and a half ago, and just yesterday I received the 1000th hit on one of my bills. I've registered 15,410 bills with a combined value of $70,708. There are a little over 50,000 people in the USA actively tracking their currency at WG. I'm in the top 100 Texas trackers. woohoo!

See? I told you it was geeky.

There are some WGers who have registered more than a million individual bills so if you think _I_ am obsessive, well, I'm chump change. Srsly. It's interesting to see where your money goes, and in some cases, how quickly. If I travel, I always try to get a couple straps of ones from the bank and register them to disperse along my path. Yes, this means spending them-- not just throwing them out the window of the hot air balloon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

We will sell our lives dearly...

On this day in 1836, Santa Anna arrived in San Antonio and began his siege upon the Texian forces garrisoned at the Alamo.

I remember the first time I set foot in the Alamo about 21 years ago. The place seemed almost too small for the import of what had taken place there. It certainly seems too peaceful. Yet the words and deeds of these men of great mettle will reverberate like ripples on the surface of a pond for the remainder of the days of our civilization. Today I consider this, and I hope you will, too.

William Travis was Lt. Col. of the Texian forces and commander of the Republic of Texas forces, and was 26 when he died at the Alamo.

From Wikipedia:
There is a legend that, one to three days before the final Mexican assault, Travis gathered all of the Alamo's defenders in the main plaza of the fort. Announcing that reinforcements would not be forthcoming, Travis unsheathed his sword and drew a line in the dirt. He then told those men who were willing to stay and die with him to cross the line; those who wanted to leave could do so without shame. Most of the Alamo's defenders subsequently crossed the line, leaving only two men behind. One soldier, Bowie, was confined to a cot with typhoid, but asked to be carried across the line. The other was a French veteran of the Napoleonic Wars named Moses Rose. Rose, who later declared, "By God, I wasn't ready to die," scaled a wall that night and escaped, thus preserving the story of Travis's line in the sand. This account was told by Rose to numerous people later in his life.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday, Puppy Sunday 22 Feb

Again, I couldn't stop at just one. Freakishly, I managed to get the good camera out before they got up and came over to wallow me to death.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

mm-mm, shooty goodness!

Keys? Check. Chanel shades? Check. Pink cell phone? Check. Kickarse Econo Scout? Check check!

Sort of last minute, I didn't go out of town as expected for the weekend which left me to knock about on my Friday off. JR of A Keyboard and a .45 graciously invited me to shoot at a range I'd been longing to check out, and I asked if I could put in some time practicing my shotgun. He said yes and so we were off to the races. This range is a neat place, and though I sing the praises of my pistol club every chance I get, I relished the opportunity to blow the cobwebs out of something larger than pistol-size.

JR's Ruger Standard was sweet to shoot, and I think I shot better with it than do I with my MkII, but I'm still getting used to that one. I shot my Mossberg until I felt more comfortable with it, and I think I'm realms beyond where I was with it at first last June. Lately I've been going to batting cages and hitting softballs, and I think improved upper-body strength makes a huge difference in my comfort level with the shotgun. Besides, it's always a good idea to keep a ball bat in the car, imho. Bonus: now I know how to whack the snot out of something with one, too.

Anyway, the afternoon was beautiful and just when it seemed the shooty goodness couldn't get much better, we moved over to a 200 yard range and JR brought out his Savage Econo Scout. I've never shot beyond 115 yards, so the long range was a treat, but the Econo Scout alone was worth the drive. When the gong clanged back at me an instant after I fired the first shot, I was in transports of rapture, oh my darlings. Fun is not a big enough word. I think more than one *squeee!* escaped my lips, and at least one yee-haw.

Thanks, JR! I had a blast. Several blasts, in fact.


Friday, February 20, 2009

ah, shoes!

Feline Art Shoe

The tail says cat, but the nose is doggie to me.

*shoe a day calendar Workman Publishing New York

There are things I'd rather not know...

The nature of the job means I often learn things about people I would prefer to not know. Sometimes they'll come to my office and spill their guts, and other times, I see a story unfold from the windows of my fishbowl office. Drips and drabs of information float in unbidden, and there's no un-learning of oogy details. Of course, it's unavoidable that I should know certain personal details, but I'd prefer to not be privileged with information which in no way helps me to do my job or to assist them.

[I wrote a great wobbler of an exposition, here, but decided it was distasteful to post even bereft of particulars as it was]

I have a great many residents who are just decent, stand-up folks, and then there are a few who have the same problems over and over and over. I could tell them each in 100 words or less what they need to do to fix their lives permanently, but only they can change the way they live.

I remember a movie where a character referred to someone as a Monet, saying they looked pretty from a distance, but up close they were a big old mess. We're all human. We all have our little screw-ups, but we should have the decency to not make others uncomfortable with excessive information of our failings. Discretion is the better part of valour.

Or is it indiscreet of me to say so?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wow. CNBC gets it right...

Watch here now.

Color me dumbfounded.

h/t to Swamp Rabbit

Hee. Just heard a clip from this on Rush Limbaugh. Even RL listens to Rabbit.

*dim bulb moment*

I never really listened to the lyrics of Rum and Coca Cola, but isn't there something bizarrely incongrous about the ├╝ber-wholesome Andrews Sisters singing about booze and prostitution? Maybe that's why I never noticed before that song was about, well, booze and prostitution... Well, booze, maybe.



Say it ain't so...
It was mere moments ago in a flouish of avenger eyes and his catlike ways he craned down from the stage and braced his hand on my shoulder, leaning out to sing to the crowd at the Gypsy Tea Room. Good times hanging out by the stage with Tracy and RocketGrrl in my hologram platform silver oxfords. I was one of the tame attendees.


Lux Interior is dead.

Viva The Cramps.

Here's to the B-movie fake-leopard splendourous ghoulrock of the Cramps with the killer guitar of Poison Ivy and otherworldly frontman Lux Interior.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not just an adventure: it's a job.

...or a venture.

Today I deliver a batch of earrings to the gallery in Dallas that carries my work. I'm sending off a pair and a proposal to a gallery on Whiskey Row in Prescott Arizona which carried my work several years back, and an esteemed Pilates studio in Tyler will have a rack of my little lovelies in a little over two weeks.
These photos are not much but they're a little better than previous efforts. You can maybe get a better idea of how they look. I think they were all wobbling when I snapped the images. One of these days...
Anyway, I'm having fun and they are making their way out into the world as I hoped.
*giddy mode*

Drop your panties, Sir William...

I cannot wait until lunchtime...

My hovercraft is full of eels.

Never gets old, does it?

I know sometime in the next 10 months, my friend will have a birthday, but she refuses to say when, so, Happy Birthday, Lin!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maneki Neko

This weekend I was gifted with something I've always always always wanted: A Maneki Neko, or beckoning cat. Westerners tend to think the kitty is waving, but it's actually beckoning, and usually you'll see these kitties somewhere in Japanese business establishments (usually near the entrance), and they are believed to bring good luck to the owner. A raised right paw is believed to attract money, and the raised left paw is thought to attract customers.
My kitty has a little solar cell and the head rocks back and forth as the right arm beckons. It's very very cute, and I got the pick of the litter. :P
These good luck kitties date from the Edo period, namely 1603 - 1868, and there's some interesting stuff about them over on Wikipedia.
This is one feline I know will get along well with the pups, and think of all the money I'll save on kitty litter. Bow wow! Miaow!

earring tree

Okay, this is not the best picture in the world, but here are 11 of the earring pairs I made from beads made this weekend. Sorry the picture is a little blurry, but they were sort of swinging when I snapped this.
The pair on the lower left in teal glass is the pair of beads I posted yesterday. Yays! Will try to get some better quality photos up soon.
Was looking through bins for various earring findings, and I found more than half of my airline barfbag collection. Many years ago, I started noticing that any craft I made or any collection I started, Martha Stewart would magically come up with about 2 to 4 years after I'd done mine. That heifer would not stop ripping me off. Finally, I hit on the one collectible I knew she'd never touch with a latex-clad 10' pole: Airline barf bags. I have Polish Air, Sabena, Aeroflot(?!), various other little deadlies, and a dozen or so collectible designer barfbags from Virgin Air. Yeah, I'll post a pic, soon. I know you want to see some. They're special. So special.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Teal Gold Leaf Beads

This weekend I worked on 23K gold leaf-wrapped transparent beads in pairs for earrings which I'll deliver to the gallery this week. I thought you might like to see the process. Sorry the pics are a little blurry- just had to try to snap them quickly and get the beads back in the heat before they got too cold.

The first picture shows I've already made the first bead of the pair and have wrapped the teal transparent core of the second bead onto the mandrel. The glass goes on a little blobby and you have to spin it around evenly so centrifugal force will let it pull into a ball shape.

The second photo shows a wonky saturn ring of colorless transparent glass I've wrapped around the teal core. I could make the whole bead out of the teal, but the light wouldn't travel through it as efficiently, and the bead wouldn't look so pretty, imho.

The third photo shows the clear glass melted in and back into a ball shape around the teal core. At the left of the photo you can see the stainless steel of the mandrel extending beyond the gray bead-release coating. Bead release is a liquid ceramic coating you must put on the mandrel prior to adding the hot glass. The mandrel has to be a similar temp to the glass, or the molten glass will not stick. Also, the mandrel must be coated in bead release or the glass will permanently wed the stainless steel and instead of a bead, you will have a swizzle stick. I use a little routing tool to clean the bead release from the shaft of the bead. I do this underwater, as the bead release in powder form is a carcinogen which hangs around your lungs for-evah.

The final image is of the gold leaf wrapped onto the bead, having been slightly burnished with a graphite marver (a little paddle thingie). The metal on the bead must be gold of a high karat or the metal will just turn black and schmutzy with the heat, or will disappear altogether. You can kind of see at the top of the bead that the colored core is still molten and that deep red lava color. This is a lot more fun to watch than may be conveyed in photographs.

When these beads are out of the kiln tomorrow after annealing, I'll go over the foil-wrapped beads with a little scrubby thing so they won't have any little foil edges sticking out. Will try to remember to show you the finished pair of earrings for which I made these beads.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's never of questionable taste... show off such a marvelous wiener.

This one's tooth-achingly cute!

Sunday, Puppy Sunday 15 Feb 09

Praline and Chuy sack out utterly, but I can only snap one photo before they are on to me. Sometimes I don't even get one photo of them in repose before they prick up their ears and wonder what silliness I am up to and whether it may involve food or treats or other good things. After all, I am their benevolent dictator. Or their slave, depending on the situation.

Here there were napping on Saturday, and one click of the phone camera and they perked up enough to watch me. This makes me wonder if they are ever fully asleep. Look how Praline's back right leg is raised, poised to spring into action, suddenly. Also, Chuy's ear is now more cupped to catch soundwaves, as opposed to the floppy sandman-may-care position of his ears in the first photo.

This is kind of cool because you can see how Chuy's chassis is just a smidge longer than Praline's. He's about 12 pounds now, and she's about 15, but her legs are twice as long so it all evens out in the wash.

Praline likes a tiny bit of affection every so often, but Chuy is a total LUV-sponge. He's a dandy boy. Good puppies. Mostly.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentime's Day!

SO I named my first dog Valentine, and would then know the joys of year-round mispronunciation of said poochie's name. Some people would ask if she was a Valentine present.

Uh, no. Didn't get her on ValentiMe's day, either. I liked the name, and Jack Russells are stealthy when they are pups, you can't for the life of you believe they'd ever turn into one of those wild Jack Russell adult monsters, so, if you're a dim bulb, you give them a sickeningly sweet name such as Valentine or Praline, when something like Popcorn or Mandible would be more apropos.

Anyhoo, nothing says Valentine's Day like this 1956 classic from Screamin' Jay Hawkins.


Sometimes the truth comes out...

Check this out.

Hot Glass

I mentioned before how much fun the glass is when it's hot. One surprising thing is the way the various colors react to the heat.

White glass turns clear when hot, cobalt blue transparent turns to an opaque fiery red, red glass turns black to fiery red, then back to black as it cools, and yellows turn red.

When the glass is molten, it's glossy. When it's that liquefied, it's a little too runny to manage well, so you pull it back from the flame and a sort of matte film will form on the melted surface and at that point it's a little cooler, but still melted enough to work easily. That's when you daub the glass onto the mandrel and pull off a little string of glass, wrapping as you go, and stopping when you have enough glass on your mandrel.
The the two photos of glass that's a sort of light amber transparent with the mercurochrome tip show glass which is a striking color. Striking colors are the ones where the application of heat makes the color appear. Likewise, you can over-heat the glass and make the color go away entirely. Then you can re-heat it to make the color appear again. As far as I know, the striking colors are amber which turns orange, and clear glass which turns red and another clear glass which turns bright yellow, all transparent. There's also a cranberry striking color which turns to a more ruby tone.

If you think about tempered glass and pyrex and the like, you already know there are many different types of glass. I use soft glass which melts in the 1700 degree range. The glass I generally use is Effetre formerly known as Moretti. Another soft glass is Bullseye, and people with a bench burner work in harder types of glass such as borosilicate. Borosilicate is gorgeous stuff, but requires a torch which burns hundreds of degrees hotter than mine. Different types of glass may not be combined because of their coeffecient of expansion. As the glass heats and cools, it expands and contracts. Because of their chemical makeup, these different types of glass will expand and contract at a different rate in identical conditions. Even if you brought a piece of combined types of glass back to room temperature overnight in a kiln, gradually, the piece would crack or even shatter.

I think if you click you can embiggenate the pictures.

Friday, February 13, 2009

General Hardened Nine Tails


Yes, I'm a super-hero.

Hypocrisy, much?

Remember when this lady's hoochie-mama get-up rendered her unfit to board a Southwest Airlines flight? She was told she was dressed too provocatively to fly on the plane. Well, inside it, maybe. Perhaps she could have gotten a seat on the wing?

Or perhaps she shoulda mebbe tried a bikini. Southwest Airlines has shrinkwrapped a 737 in a slightly larger-than-life photo of a comely bikini-clad model.
I dunno. What do you think? Seems a bit hypocritical to me. Even moreso because the Stewardesses on early Southwest flights wore those oober-hep go-go girl outfits, and why not?

h/t to Blowfuzzy von Sassy


Okay, in fairness, some good points have been raised in comments here, but I want to expand on this subject. I don't care about the bikini-clad plane - I think there's a toothsome symmetry to something so ultimately phallic as an airplane being festooned with nekkid-chick-ness, and I think the practice of pinup be-decked bombers from wartimes is a marvelous tradition to follow, actually. Also, someone said the woman was considerably more exposed than she has been presented in the above photo and tv appearances. I also really LIKED the air hostess hotpants outfits, though I'd hate to see males or unfit females got up in same, unless we're talking about a gay disco floor or Las Vegas, where such is to be expected. What really bothered me was a matter of corporate inconsistency. If social mores are touted as reason for being conservative at one hand and yet chucked at the other, they were nothing other than political expedients in the first place.

On the third hand, I celebrate the right of any company whether privately or jointly owned to do its business in the way it sees fit from one day to the next.

Frankly, I think there should be open-smoking airlines for people who want to smoke on planes. Frankly, if my pilot is a smoker, I WANT that mofo smoking his or her brains out. Or slap some nicotine patches on them, at the very least. Please, no jonesing in the cockpit.

But now I'm ranting, aren't I?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Uncle 'Bam's Cabin Fever

Sometimes in winter, you get cooped up for long enough you can go a little stir-crazy, ya know? I mean, swaddled in luxury with aides and maids to wait on you hand and foot, well, a regular guy or a regular gal could get a little sick of all that pampering and having needs met and such.

You've gotta get out-- just get away.

Last week the Obamas broke away from the humdrum and had a day of diversion:

"We were just tired of being in the White House," the president candidly told the gleeful second-graders at Capital City Public Charter School.

"We got out! They let us out!" Mrs. Obama said as the kids and their teachers laughed.

Tired? Give a little while.

Urine for a treat!

India's Hindu nationalist movement has come up with a fun use for a cow movement: cow urine cola. fizzy, yet. *shudder*

And south of the isthmus, down Bolivia way...

A Bolivian woman has died from an injection of urine allegedly administered by her friend as a form of health therapy, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

I have nowhere to go with that story- just another pee story in the news. I thought you should know.

h/t to Lin know.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An Old Dog Has His Day

A ten year old Sussex Spaniel has won the Westminster Dog Show, becoming the oldest dog to win the top prize of American dog shows.

Good on the old boy. :)

h/t to g bro

Thunder all through the night...

So was gonna compose something Tuesday, as I usually do late in the night, when lo and behold the local tornado sirens started going off all over town. I live at an edge of an escarpment, and this means I could hear the report of sirens wafting on the considerable wind from all over the city.

I detest those sirens - the city tests them every Wednesday at noon for a couple minutes, and I sort of expect to see Russian paratroopers dropping into the parking lot in front of my office every time that happens.

Goody. Thanks, Mr. Kruschev.

Anyhoo - so we had hail and rain and it was windier than a bag of buttholes around here. Here's a weather picture to give you an idea of what rolled through town, with the promise of more to follow.

Ugh. I love nasty weather, but this is perhaps taking it a bit far...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm up to my eyeballs in puppehs.

Chuy has some serious wrinkle mojo going on.

He's a smart boy, and he knows how much leverage those wrinkles are packing. I've never seen anything like it. I look at him, he looks up at me balefully with his round, moist eyes, then the ears prick up, scrunching up the loose hide in between, and suddenly it's "the wrinkles! the wrinkles!" I defy anyone to resist this dog.

He is superb.
Praline is superb in her own way, and she's going to be a really cool dog when she mellows out... about 6 or 7 years.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Hollow Bead

I finally set my torch up in my apartment this weekend, and I managed to churn out a few beads Sunday night. Here's one - a hollow in transparent ink colored Moretti glass. You can see the lens effect of my fingers reflected on the back side of the bead. This is one of the coolest things about the hollow beads, so it's actually sort of a shame to wrap on the gold leaf, but I just couldn't stop myself. This bead is about 3/4" in diameter.

The glass gallery which sells my jewelry is hankering for more, and when they are stocked up- sometime in the next couple weeks, hopefully, I'll pursue a gallery in Arizona which has sold my work before. I hope to have my work in many more places by the end of the year. Yeah, I said that last year, too, but really dragged my feet. I've had a lot going on, and it was so much trouble to get the glass manufacture rolling. It was too easy to back-burner. I have observed that the most successful artists are usually masters of self-promotion, and not always the most talented folks around. I'd always prefer to wear someone else's jewelry, frankly. I know too well the process of making my own designs, so it all just seems obvious to me.
Still, the torch work is a blast. Working with the molten glass on the mandrel is a lot like balancing out a blob of thick honey. Sometimes if you let the glass get out of balance, it will seem like it can never be worked into a decent and symmetrical bead, but you just keep turning it in the flame. The natural inclination of molten glass is to pull into a spheroid, so if you keep turning the mandrel quickly and at a consistent speed, it'll pretty much do the work itself.
The hollow beads can seem especially hopeless midway through the process. You make hollows by building out two parallel disks of glass closely spaced together, alternately layering an outer ring of fresh glass on each disk. Finally, you build on more rings toward the center, and if you need a little help, a 1' pair of tweezers can be used to safely pinch the little edges together while safeguarding your hands from the heat. At that point, it's all lumpy and messy looking. Eventually, the air trapped inside the glass will get hot enough to sort of plump out the bead nicely. It's a fun process to watch. Actually, seeing the glass in a state of transition is far more exciting than the finished product could ever be, to me.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday, Puppy Sunday

I mentioned I've been having trouble sleeping, and Friday I acquired a white noise machine. Also, a nice bath before bed seems to help. That seems to have made all the difference, and I slept like a baby Friday night, at last.

I've mentioned before that I unwittingly turned my pups into water dogs, and they just LOVE when they hear me drawing a bath.

Here they are anticipating bathtime, and then longing to be allowed into the bath.

Rough life, eh?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Help Wanted: Proper Tea Manager

One of the perks since I joined the company is that I was assigned to plan all parties and gifts for residents. I didn't realize how much fun that would be, but I do love entertaining. If you host similar gatherings repeatedly, you work certain details down to a science and each event is easier than the last. For the blogger party last week, I called on all my mad hostess skills to pull together the food and to tidy up my nest. My goal was to have the apartment ready by Wednesday, which would pretty much guarantee it would be ready by Friday and I wouldn't have to rush around like a lunatic on Saturday. No, it doesn't make sense to me, either, but it usually results in a fuss-free day-of-party for me. Ideally, the day of the event I can work on painting my fingernails or loaf about googling "bacon-wrapped spam" or some such.

For the gunblogger wingding, I planned for a limited but (hopefully) popular array of beverages. I had a handful of soft drink varieties, bottled water and bottles of Ramune in case any kiddies showed up. I planned to make iced tea. Folks started arriving and I had a pot of water on the stove which never would boil, and, coincidentally, I couldn't find the teabags. I joked one guest that I would probably find the tea that evening. Sure enough, rummaging around in the pantry some hours later, I found the box of teabags. Oh well. At that point, I had begun brewing the coffee which Old NFO had so obligingly brought. Folks seemed happy, and the only milkish thing in my fridge -- heavy whipping cream -- was the delight of more than one guest. I only had sugar of the brown variety. Still, guests who desired coffee in its various forms did not go wanting.

Not so, tea drinkers.

Among the esteemed gentlemen in attendance, LawDog (dashing, that one is!) decided a nice cup of hot tea was in order. I was across the room and directed him to the tea in the pantry, but offered that I knew there was proper tea up in my office. No, no, he said, this would be fine. I knew a smart fellow such as he could work a kettle, by golly, so I resumed my conversation. The teakettle whistled, and I noted LawDog shifting through the remaining glasses in the cabinet, all the mugs and teacups having been claimed for coffee earlier. The sole remaining glass with a handle was this one:

Yes, such are the spoils of shopping at Oak Cliff's Thrift Town over on Westmoreland. I got 4 or 5 of these for ten cents each. Score!

I watched, bemused, as LawDog pulled this from the cabinet, raised an eyebrow and placed it carefully back on the shelf as he craned to see another mug or teacup. Alas, no other handled vessel was to be found, and with a sigh, he resigned himself to the girlie mug.

The teakettle began to whistle, and I paid the teamaking no mind until I glanced across the room to see Sir Dog grimace full-mouthed and holding his tea-filled mug out, regarding it quizically.

Horrors! A hostess-from-hell moment was erupting before my very eyes. After all my careful preparations a treasured guest was having not-as-advertised results from his beverage. Lawks!
I did not see what happened to the tea in LawDog's mouth, but methinks he did not swallow it, and for good reason. For he'd ladled about a week's worth of sodium into his tea from one salt pig which sat perched atop a jar of matches. Yes, it looked like sugar, but was salt. Apparently Mr. Dog has never heard of salt pork.

*chagrin!* *regret!* *gnashing of teath!*

One giggling attendee rushed over to the salt pig to snap a photo as twitters of recognition and laughter swept the room. Here was a moment for which I had not prepared, or had scarce imagined. Um. Uh. Er.

Dear LawDog,

Please accept my humble apologies. [Blackadder style, pronounced a-po-lo-gees (like geese without the last e)] Next time you darken my doorway, there shall be fine tea in abundance and pure-dee sugar in a well-marked container.
Pinkie swear!


Here's a re-enactment of the whole sordid affair. Note the sinister gaping maw of the salt pig, porthole to blood pressure hell and water retention horrors. See the comely lass casting her eyes away, seemingly innocent of any wrongdoing, her bouffant perfectly preserved for posterity. Actually, I blame the pig. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Levi Strauss' product...

once was manufactured with a crotch rivet. Apparently the rivets were phased out of the design in an effort during WWII to save copper, rather than the persistently-rumoured unpleasant campfire effect.

Rivet or no, Holly told me Levi Strauss is anti second amendment. I suppose I won't be buying Levi's, rivet or no.

So, this is a true story...

I had occasion to be in another Texas city yesterday. I drove around, looking at houses for sale and for rent. I found a gorgeous early 20th century neighborhood with a stately array of variations on the grande dame manse. I also found a little 1900-ish brick house which was begging for my touch. Unfortunately, the two neighborhing houses were begging for my torch, they being of the apocalyptic white trash variety, so perhaps it's best the little charmer was not on the market. That's not unhealthy, is it, that I wish the neighboring houses would just vaporize?

I sold a house in an historic district once because of the unsavouries who'd rented next door. The owner lived in the big house at the end of the block, and was in the process of snapping up every bit of property in the district she could acquire. She thought it was a good idea to rent the house next door to me to a group of 21 year old men. The porch rail was strewn with gem-like glass bottles - classy! - emerald greens, clears and browns, mostly, labels such as Jack Daniel's weathering to a suede-like white in the harsh Texas sun, wresting free from the bonds of anchoring glue and flapping gently in the wind. These young men would get home from what must have been fine establishments in the neighborhood of 2:30am, and then the party would start.

Have you ever seen how a tuning fork works? One strikes the end of the tines against a hard surface then holds the bulb at the base against a wood surface such as a piano lid, and the wood acts as a sound board and the volume is amplified dramatically. Well, these old houses are much like the case of a piano, the wood acting as an accellerator to the sound, my all-wood house fairly thrumming with the vibrations of their bass. Oh, but they loved their music!

This was irritating to the degree that the prim and proper schoolteacher across the street was driven to cursing. One day, she said to me "I'm just so sick of their-- their-- *sputter* their shit."

Madam! Such language!

One weekend, after something like 12 continuously throbbing hours of party central, I went across the street to the enraged neighbor and asked her if she would join me in complaining to the police-- they said the complaint of one person would have no teeth in having the occupants or owners cited for disturbing the peace. Schoolteacher said "well, I would complain if it bothered me." Spineless.

I walked back into my house andphoned the realtor in town and said "please bring a sign for my yard. Now."

So, anyhoo, now I have this really noisy neighbor again. I hear the tires on the pavement at all hours. I never realized that was the real noise of a roadway-- would always have sworn it was the engines of the vehicles. Occasionally there is a jake-brake (what jerky driver goes fast enough through busy downtown expressways to NEED a jake-brake?) and then the whole din is occasionally punctuated by the ululations of emergency vehicles. What brought the tires thing home to me was last week when the world was enshrouded in ice and things were so starkly quiet. The handful of motorists on the expressway picked their way gingerly along, and I slept SO well...

The traffic begins picking up more heavily at about 5am. It's like a ceaselessly churning artery, pumping vital fluids through the city. I know it's a necessary evil, and there are many legitimate reasons for people to be out driving in wee small hours, but the expressway certainly makes for a very bad neighbor...

Don't worry: I won't burn it down. I'll just move.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

On a flaming pogo stick, at that.

Somewhere, sometime, a Frankie fell in love with a Johnnie.
There's even prolly been a couple named Mutt and Jeff at some point.

Now Madonna is dating a guy named Jesus.



Um, ew.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

When it's my turn to be king...

I want this lady to sing at my inauguration.

That is all.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A news article somewhere just asked...

should we spend 819 billion to create 3 million jobs, or just give everybody their $273,000 share of the 819 billion ?

a fair question...

Someone at the party Saturday asked me why I left such a good job at the post office.

The property I manage is on the market and I have no promise of continued employment after transition, so the reasonable thing to do is to send out feelers re: the job market. In this economy, I've had many occasions to think of why I left the USPS, and at no time do I feel rueful or wistful about having left. By now I'd have 6 paid weeks of vacay a year, and considering I had some $50K years in my 20s there, I'd probably easily be making that much routinely without trying. Then again, I was hired before I turned 20, and if I felt burned and eaten alive by the machine at the age of 28, how do you think I'd feel now, 15 years later?

Sometime I'll give you my feelings on the APW Union, but I'm not in rant mode so I'll kick that excrescent corpse another time.

I prefer working for a smaller company, even if the money and the benefits aren't on par with top-flight corporate gigs. I prefer handling the reins a little more on my own, and I want to feel that I'm actually contributing to the success of a caring company rather than just another number on a payroll performing duties which could be aptly seen to by anyone who could fog a mirror.

I mean no slight to people who do work at the USPS-- not everyone has the same needs from a job as I. I get bored and restless. I drift. I worked in large mail processing facilities and though I landed some nicely diverting details, I generally found the atmosphere oppressive and depressing. Also, the inherent inequities in the way people are treated in that company make me marvel there are not more homicidal events in those facilities.

I would never have done such a thing. Generally, postal shootings have been a matter of a disgruntled firee coming back to give the supervisor their just desserts. I feared I'd be the first employee to be shot by a supervisor.


Monday, February 02, 2009

What if you threw a party and only the cool kids came?

Last June I held a gun-blogger wing-ding at my humble abode, and it was a lot of fun. I'd been thinking for a while it was time for a repeat, and sometime in the GunNuts radio show chat about a month ago, I allowed myself to be cajoled into setting a date for another Texas gunblogger party. January 31 seemed a good date, so I committed and let area folks from my blogroll know what was in the works.

Friday, Old NFO and aepilot jim came to Dallas, and we were by-golly going to go have steak for dinner. Turned out Ambulance Driver and Farmgirl were in town already, too, so they met us at Texas de Brazil for dinner. We had a grand time and quite the carnivorous feed. Yummm. Beef! Bacon! Pork! Bacon! Bacon! Better than Spam! Everything the gauchos brought on skewers was a hit, particularly the stuff wrapped in bacon, but I lamented the lack of bacon-wrapped bacon. Oh well, one can't have everything.

Saturday I woke up with a beef-hangover (srsly -had NO booze), and I managed to pull things together before the party, even if all the food and implements weren't out yet. Old NFO and aepilot_jim arrived first with spare ice, and then came JR of A Keyboard and a .45 and his lovely Lady(future spades opponents). Other guests who came soon were Alan of Snarkybytes, JPG, Holly, Peter, 2Amusing, Blackfork and the Redhead(fabulous creature), of course Farmgirl and Ambulance Driver, wry-witted commenter Swamp Rabbit and his darling wife (bearing photos of a freshly minted batch of Siberian Husky pups), LawDog, and Matt G, and at least one other person who doesn't blog but with whom I adored chatting and who pretty much never opens his mouth but to say something profound or clever and really should be delighting us all with a blog...

Here's a photo. Everyone put their carry gun on my kitchen counter, along with their knives. Slightly addle-witted by the time the party started, I never thought to put my own carry weapon out until Holly mentioned my own exquisite knife at the end of the day, at which point I lacked whatever it would have taken for me to go upstairs and fetch them for the cache. I did at one point put out my tequila-filled 1911, and that would have to suffice.

Lots of folks brought food and lovely hostess gifts (.38 ammo! China! wine! coffee! exquisite carvings from Japan! Gourmet cookies! Robert Heinlein quote bumpersticker!), not to mention all the lovely contributions to the buffet. Thank you, everyone!
There was no agenda for the party, other than a friendly get-together. I actually believe this may have been the only party I've ever seen where there seemed to be absolutely no conversational lags or awkward silences. Groups chatting ranged from a number of 2 or 3 up to a roomful of a dozen or more. People shifted from one group to another, and each conversation yielded many delights and bits of wisdom. The whole gathering was an incredibly genteel and amiable event and I felt lucky to meet all these nice folks. Of course, I already knew enough of several of them to know that the party was a guaranteed win. Holly could draw a cigar store Indian into conversation, and Ambulance Driver is way more clever and spontaneous in person than may be conveyed in writing - I'm sure those two alone could put on a reasonable half-time show for a major event, only in this case, the wardrobe malfunction would be on the male end of the spectrum. *ahem* SO, yeah, a marvelous, free-wheeling chinwag was enjoyed by all.

At one point I asked Matt to change the two non-functioning lightbulbs on my kitchen fixture, and in full view of an embarrassing number of people. He fiddled with the light, and, alas!, the new bulb did not yield light. On a hunch, he pulled the light cord on the fixture, and what do you know if that darned thing just wasn't turned on - had a 3 way switch? I think I must have turned several shades of red when he asked me how long these lights had been "out" and how long, exactly, I have lived here. Uh... Another hostess-from-hell moment was when one lovely guest (unbeknownst to me) ladled from the salt-pig to sweeten his tea. Uh, not so much. *chagrin! regret! gnashing of teeth!*

Sunday, I went shooting on a ranch with aepilot_jim, Matt, JPG, AD and Farmgirl. We had a blast. First time out with my delicious new acquisition in the form of one Browning .22 rifle and I shot the dickens out of that thing. Yeah, I missed a wee few, but I hit most. It's a delight to shoot, and I'm thrilled beyond description by this gun and I'm so thankful to Peter for so generously keeping his eyes peeled for that for me. I also shot AD's EBR, and it was WAAAAY more fun than I expected. Further, I didn't feel remotely psychotic or blood-lustful afterward, even though I'm okay with the expiration of a litter of Sarah Brady's kittens. I shot at a steel plate and Matt said the plate couldn't take it, so to shoot the cinder block instead. I shot the cinderblock and the concrete powder billowed up in the most delightful way - we're talking downtown Fallujah. I confess I squealed like a-- like a-- well, like myself, which is to say most vociferously. AD said "do that again, JPG didn't see that" so I shot the cinderblock again, and here's what was left of that pesky devil. It was coming right for us. I was in fear for my life. I just wanted to stop the threat, srsly. I threw it into park, flipped on the safety and boogied down right there. The men folk laughed at me, and I was kind of okay with that because their derision was balanced with many mentions of Annie Oakley with reference to me. I also shot a rock consistently dead center at 115 yards. Okay. Did I just do the longest paragraph here about myself? Well, it's not bragging if it's true. And I am a good shot. If the target is, like, a mile wide.

We went to the Ponder Steakhouse for dinner, deftly resisting the calf fries appetizer. I ran off to a pleasant errand and then got home to my humble abode Sunday night, well-tired, but very happy. I walked a bag of trash to the dumpster and decided to check my mail, and guess what? My CHL card came in the mail this weekend. For shooty goodness, I think this weekend will be pretty hard to excel in future. But that won't stop me trying.

As for the party Saturday, his really was a remarkable gathering of lovely people, and I was privileged to have every one of you here. For everyone who couldn't make it and is envious, well, you have very good reason to be so. Since the generous and brilliant Holly and JPG introduced me to shooting about 19 months ago, I have been impressed with the wonderfully intelligent and grounded people who comprise this enthusiastic community. Even being a new shooter, I've been humbled by the respect and good-natured helpfulness I've found from experienced shooters at every step of the way. I felt so at home with all these folks, and somehow my small apartment never felt crowded even with 19 of us packed in and spilling out the front and back doors. I know this group to be the kindest and best of people, and I hope I will see them again soon.

As the bumpersticker Rabbit brought me said quoted so eloquently:

An armed society is a polite society.


Thanks again, everyone!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Blogger Party Wrap-Up

Later today or Early tomorrow, I promise.
Thank you to all the lovely and fabulous folk who honored my home with their attendance. I'm told we were quite the buzz on the gun nuts IRC, and that all the smart and cool kids will be moving to Texas forthwith.

Damn skippy!

Just because.