September 2008


Today was one of those rare ones in which I remark repeatedly about how much I love my job. It was beautiful weather for working outside, and the job was one I enjoy. We’re building a deck with a covered screen porch, and the fresh air, cool morning and sunbeams were tickling my fancy.

Then I barked up my shin while moving my extension ladder, and noticed it was still hurting several minutes later. A quick glance confirmed that it’s bleeding, and bleeding things generally hurt. No big deal.

Until the mosquitoes came out. Oh, and when these come out, it’s like a Gay Pride parade – they REALLY come out. This jobsite is in a flood plain (a fact that cost me an extra $170 in permits), which contributes to the population of little bloodsucking bastards. It’s also part of the reason the customer is paying me to build a screen porch – it’s a beautiful back yard, but the bugs are miserable. They are small and black, and have grey stripes (or maybe it’s grey with black stripes?) like my cat. They’re not as cute, though – no purring, nuzzling, or charm among this crowd.

So why are mosquitoes a big deal? Oh, besides carrying diseases – enough to be the #1 killer of mankind among the fauna of earth – their bites are unpleasant. I got two in a row – in the same spot – on the soft white underbelly of my arm, and they raised a bump such as I haven’t seen since summer camp in the ’70s. This had to be stopped. So I reached into my trusty tool bag and grabbed a can of Off. I hosed myself down pretty well, but instantly realized the tradeoff: My shin-wound was uncovered during treatment, while freshly safe from buggy assault, OMMFGithurtlikeaBITCH! Oh geez, I don’t care for that kind of pain atall.

Speaking of bitches, I once frequented a church whose pastor titled a sermon, “Life’s a bitch.”  Some uptight biddy in the congregation counted, and he apparently uttered the naughty word 7 times in the service. The point was, ‘Life’s a bitch, and then you die (per the bumper sticker) – and then comes the judgment.’ It was a standard brimstone-and-fire sermon, and I was pretty entertained by it. But the uproar over the bee word was even more entertaining.

He also said ‘shit’ and ‘nigger’ in sermons (both points, in context, I fully support).*

Yes, he’s still the pastor there (as far as I know).

Today, on a trip to the delectable Bear Rock Cafe for lunch, a truck had an assortment of pretty white rocks on the tailgate. The driver was saving these for sprinkling along the roadway, apparently. I’m guessing he enjoys paying for broken windshields and chipped paint, because he could’t be farking bothered to sweep a few stones off his truck. Plus which, 3 of his 4 rear tires were completely devoid of tread. I would bet money and fame that he’s due to make some poor summbich very unhappy because of shed rocks or retreads. Maybe he’ll wreck his truck and get to contemplate what went wrong.

I almost forgot about it because of the savory sammich and delightful chocolate chip cookie. Almost.

Mmmm, cookies.

The other night I was at Bed Bath & Beyond shopping for a duvet (omg they’re comfy – but 4x more expensive than I was expecting, so they went unbought), and in the checkout (I HAD to have a new chef knife) I grabbed a bag of peanut emenems. They had a pink ribbon on the package, but I didn’t notice until later. I was handing my friend an M, and looking for a green one, but grabbed a pink one instead. My internal editor was on break, for I blurted, “Yum! Tastes like breast cancer!”

Good thing my friend has a twisted sense of humor.

*contexts:

1 “Some of you have told me, ‘pastor, I feel like shit today.’ (pause – gasps) What? You talk to me like that, why shouldn’t I talk to you the same way?”

2 “I hate nigger jokes. Don’t tell me any.”

It’s starting to feel like fall, and I love it. Neighbors are walking about and saying hello, and the usual dance of dog-walkers on cell phones, dangling their tiny animals like marionettes are supplemented by regular folk who only come out when the weather is more civilized. Cool mornings and nights, sunny warm afternoons, and a reduction in the mosquito population – it’s enough to make me activity-prone. Yesterday I set a shower base, then stopped by Home Depot to get some $100 worth of landscaping blocks. I had a $10 coupon which had to be used by today, so not buying that stuff would have been throwing money away. Right?

The work truck was loaded down so it squatted like Jabba ye olde Hutt, and I crept home carefully. Broken springs are bad, I can tell you.

We have a nasty old & busted fire pit in the yard. The walls are crumbly, and whenever we have a fire it burns the trees. So, I decided we must have a new fire pit. Thus, landscaping blocks.

40 minutes later, my chair was on fire.

The remains of the old fire pit are in a neatish pile by the fence, waiting for a friend with a pickup truck to help haul ’em away. It came down with a few satisfying whacks of a sledge hammer, and a few gentle pushes. Now, the trees won’t catch fire when I’m trying to have a weenie roast.

What’d YOU do this weekend?

Today while driving to a plumbing repair job, I was enjoying a beautiful almost-fall day with the windows down. The sun-dappled roadway was turning and twisting through town and into the woods. I heard a crunching, grinding sound and looked to the oncoming lane just in time to see a wheel bouncing toward me. A pickup truck was towing a concrete mixer, and a wheel was bouncing casually across the road while the mixer was dragging violently sideways toward me. I swerved to the right as a stone bounced off the open window frame and into my head. I slowed down and swerved back into my lane while feeling for blood. I found none, said ‘Phewf!’ and waited for my heart rate to return to double digits.

Glad THAT doesn’t happen every day.

And for Tiff, here’s proof:

This week I built a bookcase, and it came out pretty well. But in the final third of the project, in which I prime the surfaces before finish painting, I spent a good 5 hours nose-to-nosing with Sherwin-Williams’ finest oil-based paint. I knew it would be stinky (this isn’t my first rodeo), but gosh this particular particulate infested my nasals something fierce. In fact, I think I got a bit of a chemical high from the fumes – totally not worth it, because I was trying to concentrate through the headache-edged fog. Plus which, my usually-delectable Wendy’s Single with Cheese combo tasted like paint. And I can’t have that. Recalling it now, my cocktail tastes vaguely paintey. So I’ll stop thinking about it.

*****

I had a place holder labeled ‘Politics’ but I can’t remember what I was going to say. So I’ll just sit here and look at pictures of Sarah Palin.

*****

T’udder day I was playing some tennis. It took a long time to get back in the rhythm, since it’s been about 3 weeks since the last Outing. We play ‘tard tennis, which is hella fun (ping pong scoring, using only half the court and all underhand serves) and each of us won a game. Then we decided to play ‘real’ tennis (which looks horribly unreal next to the people on the next court, who can serve and return more than once in a row). 3 serves in, I reach for a ball and whack it with all my puny might. The racket drops from my fingers like it’s on fire, and my bicep bunches up. I’ve pulled a little muscle that lives between the bicep and tricep on the outside of my arm. Friggin’ OW!

2 ice packs and a good night’s sleep later, I can pinpoint the injury – but it hasn’t bothered me. Phewf. That’s my work arm, and I can’t have it out of commission.

*****

Last night, my neighbor brought over a big ‘ol keg of Heineken. Just gave it to me, just because. He got one for himself the night before, and he says some guys were selling them on the roadside for cheap. He’s pretty sure they’re stolen kegs. But it was still nice of him to bring me one.

Haven’t tapped it yet, maybe I’ll save it for the big Halloween Party.

Speakinnawhich, we’re having a halloween party. You’re invited, all 3 of you who read this blog.

*****

Here’s a collection of funnies that make me giggle, and most could be told in the kind of churches I frequent.

Who was the most flexible man in the Bible? Abraham, because he tied his ass to a tree and walked up a mountain.

What’s the official car of the Bible? A Honda, because the apostles were all in one accord.

A priest, a nun, and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “What is this, some kind of joke?”

Joseph and Miriam were the church’s most elderly couple. During one service, Miriam leaned over to Joseph and whispered, “I just let a silent fart! What should I do?” Joseph replied, “Turn up your hearing aid!”

(In my own experience, there was an old guy named Bill that used to sit in the front row at the church I attended. Twice or thrice per sermon, he’d lean over on one cheek and let one rip against the bare wooden pew. My friends and I would sit behind him and try to predict his ‘movements’ – it was great fun for a young’un).

Okay, these could possibly not be welcome at your church, but they still make me cringe with silliness:

What do lesbians need to get married? A liquor license (it helps if you say it aloud).

A rabbi and a priest are walking down a sidewalk, and they see a young boy across the street. The priest says without thinking, “Boy, I’d like to screw him.” The rabbi replies, “Out of what?”

On that note, ‘bye.

Yesterday I bought a new cell phone charger for the truck. I turned into a Borg a cuppa weeks ago, having bought a wireless earthingie. Apparently, these devices drain the cell phone battery pretty quickly. Since I am an Entrepreneur (friggin’ French words), I simply must be connected at all times. And I don’t even like talking on the phone.

It’s my 2nd one, since the first one sucked major quantities of monkey butt. It sounded to my conversation partners that I was (and I quote) ‘in a drawer,’ ‘eating socks,’ or ‘in a rainstorm of quarters.’ Something would shift in the work van that sounded to me like the pitter patter of butterfly feet, but the caller asked if I was ok after the crash.

So, I returned the expensive POS for a new, even more expensive POS. This one has a little nub that rests on the cheek and detects voice vibrations. Any sound that doesn’t agree with the vibration sensor is suppressed, and the sound quality is immensely better. The downside: the buttons are very sensitive, and one of them hangs up on callers while the phone is ringing. I’ve cut off half a dozen callers already; I hope they weren’t important.

My new charger came with this tag. I’ll have to set an alarm to be sure to hit the charging window each day…

I had more nonsense to report, but it’s Caturday and there is poop to do. Have a wonderful weekend!

So it says in my ‘about’ page that I’m not likely to start political discussions. But a post over at Tiff’s got me to thinking that one of the things that bugs me about politics is a lack of original ideas – a protest mentality that has candidates defining themselves by not being their opponents.

“Vote for me, I’m not him (or her)” is hardly enough to recommend a person for responsible office. A few recent stunning examples have set my teeth on edge. I listen to NPR nearly every day, and for an hour in the morning they broadcast the BBC News Hour. A discussion with two guests was occuring, and one guest was offering a number of proposals to combat racism in Britain. The other guest, at each turn, was simply questioning the other’s sincerity, research, and results without offering any alternative proposals. In her oily British voice, she sounded as reasonable as warm milk without having the substance of a chocolate chip cookie (mmm, cookies!). Another was last election, and some doofus was running for state representative. In a newspaper interview, his answer to every question was “whatever my constituents want.”

I’m a fan of decisiveness, backbone, and principle. Sometimes the right person for the job is the biggest douchebag (see: House). The current political climate requires candidates to be polished, coated with spackle and paint, and coached to universally acceptable blandness. It’s so calculated as to be apathy inducing.

Harry S Truman left office with one of the lowest popularity ratings of any president in history, and while his record is currently being challenged, history now regards him as one who made tough – and correct – decisions. I’d like to see someone in office who has the fire of Jefferson, the righteousness of Lincoln, the promise-keeping of Tyler, and the creativeness and diplomacy of Franklin (not a president, but I woulda voted for him). These are of another era, before government got into the business of welfare and jobs, education and health care.

I discovered that I may be a bit of a libertarian, although I couldn’t see myself voting that way. I think jobs are individual responsibilities, not government’s. Education is a state and local issue – but parents are the front line in that battle. First-generation college graduates experience the work and reward of doing what they must to reach that goal – whether it’s their own or their parents’ commitment, they make it happen. Throwing money at ‘education’ doesn’t make people smarter. Health care used to be handled by individuals, families, and communities. Of course, insurance and lawsuits have made it so expensive that it’s hard to see that happening again in large scale. And welfare is what family and churches are for – help until one can get on his feet again.

The current state of our government is so full of graft, waste, and gamesmanship that I couldn’t begin to come up with a fix. I’d wipe the hard drive and start over with the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and 100 brand-new senators.

Unlikely, I know.

But I do know that I’m not impressed by negative comparisons. Stand for something, and I’ll listen.

(Tiff started it)

Ooh! My first hurricane season in a hurricane-prone(ish) state is upon me. Hanna is slipping her tentacles under my sheets and into my backyard, and I’m wondering if I should batten down the patio furniture. The forecast is calling for wind and rain for a night, and I’m not worried too much. But I am thinking I should make a preparedness kit, because I’m told there are more ‘canes to come. Do you have a kit? What’s in it?

I finished a job today that I estimated would take a week. It took nearly three, which is stupid for the size of the room – but there were so many different tasks involved, half my days were spent fetching different tools and materials. Here’s a before-after:

This project involved gutting a tiny bathroom and tile shower down to the studs, new sheetrock on the walls and ceilings, new window, new tile shower and floor, vanity with a custom linen tower, new plumbing, shelves, lighting, finishes, and paint. Very nice outcome, but gosh it took me forfrickinever.

So TSHanna came and went, and all I did was got wet. A very rainy morning calls for movie watching, and we went to see Ye Olde Darke Knight at a matinee. Totally worth the ticket price to see that on the big screen. But I couldn’t believe people were bringing their little kids to see it. The psycho-weirdness, dark and complex plot, and violence are pretty stout in that movie, and I wouldn’t bring youngsters to it. 12-14 year olds, possibly.

It reminds me of the time I saw the Goo-Goo Dolls live, and folks who knew their radio hits thought this would be a family-friendly show. Not so much. A few naughty words are to be expected at a rock show, but this featured vigorous vulgar vindictive – and volume. It was painful even for a half-deaf has-almost-been rock star like me. Toddlers on dads’ shoulders were all over the place, while the aroma of sweaty drunk rockers almost overpowered the burning cannibis.

Time to pay some bills, plan a party, and book a trip. Have a great night!