Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The End Is Near!

No, not the end of the world.  I mean the end of this @#$%& triple-digit heat wave we've had parked right over Texas for the past several months.  A quick glance at our 7-day forecast shows a cool front coming through tomorrow and temps falling into the upper 90's, and staying below 100 after that .  Yep, I said "cool" and "upper 90's" in the same sentence.  Absurd, isn't it?

It looks like we'll have around 65+/- days over 100 degrees this year, making it the second-hottest summer since The Big Bang.  It's also come to my attention that the 2011 college football season kicks off tomorrow night, too.  

Is it possible....I mean....could it be that God is a college football fan like me, and He's turned down the thermostat a few degrees so we can all enjoy the game?    ;)

Dinner out tonight with my daughters and a couple of the grandkids (with another "in the oven").  They all wanted Mexican food, which is fine with me, except it isn't exactly conducive to losing weight.  I'll really have to watch myself.  (We're trying to lose a few pounds and ramp up the exercise, getting ready to enjoy some outdoor activities this fall after being cooped up all summer.)  


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Hello, is there anyone out there?" (Pink Floyd)

Does anyone read this jibberish I write?  I'm beginning to think not, which is OK, no offense taken.  But if no one is bothering to read it, I'm not going to bother writing it.  I'll still read other's blogs because I enjoy keeping up with everyone, but topics that appeal to me don't seem to have much of an audience outside of my house.  Heck, even inside my house.  ;)


Monday, August 29, 2011

Ahh....the smell of tear gas in the air

I read a very interesting article by financial columnist Scott Burns in The Dallas Morning News yesterday.  In a previous piece he told of a scary scenario he called the "American Spring", complete with angry protesters and "tear gas in the air".  That's how disgusted Americans are with their present government and our abysmal economy.

He brought up the soon-to-be-broke Social Security system and how it came to be that way.  He reminded us that back in 1983 Congress initiated Social Security "reforms" allowing them to rob "appropriate" $2.6 TRILLION dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund and spend it on other "stuff" in order to please their respective special interests, replacing cash with IOU's.  Soon Social Security will need to start redeeming those IOU's to pay retirees, and guess what?   The government doesn't have it. They're backpedaling as fast as possible, throwing up excuses why there should be "means testing" for retirees, no cost-of-living increases, maybe reduced benefits, etc.  

Here's the point of his column:  There are 23 members of Congress still serving who voted back in '83 to pull this 'ol switcheroo, 14 Democrats and 9 Republicans.  THEY NEED TO BE SENT HOME!  PERMANENTLY!  They are:

Dan Burton (R-IN)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Norm Dicks (D-WA)
John Dingell (D-MI)
Dick Durban (D-IL)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Sander Levin (D-MI)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
George Miller (D-CA)
Tom Petri (R-WI)
Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Hal Rogers (R-KY)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Pete Stark (D-CA)
Bill Young (R-FL)

 IMHO, they ALL need to be defeated at their next election.  And don't tell me, "Yes, but you don't know all the good stuff they've done."  A good guy robs a bank, and guess what?  He's no longer a good guy.  HE'S A BANK ROBBER!  Zero tolerance.

This could get interesting.  I've never smelled tear gas before.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Dogs and loyalty

I love dogs.  They ask so little of us, yet give us everything they have without hesitation.  This fact was brought back to me this morning when I read this in USA Today online:

At the funeral for one of the 30 Navy SEAL's recently killed in Afghanistan, the dog of a fallen SEAL refused to leave the body of his owner/friend.  During the service he walked up to the casket and lay down beside it.  Such loyalty is virtually impossible to find in the human world.

I remember a few years ago I was in bed recovering from having my tonsils out.  What misery!  My little dog Tara Belle (at the time about 13 years old and slowing down considerably) could sense I was hurting and somehow jumped-climbed-clawed her way up onto my bed and lay down beside me.  In normal times she couldn't jump that high if her life depended on it, but when she thought she could provide me some comfort, she was there for me.

Dogs don't ask or care what color you are, what zip code you live in, what labels are on your clothes, what kind of car you drive, or how influential your friends are.  All they want from you is a pat on the head, a tummy rub, someone to throw them a ball, some food...any brand will do, thank you...and of course your love.  Pretense doesn't exist in a dog's world.  In a dog owners world it does, but not in a dog's world.  

You know the old joke about "dog" really being GOD, just  spelled backwards?  Maybe it's not a joke.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Magical salad

Trying to eat better in order to begin enjoying a more active outdoor lifestyle (whenever it cools some), last night we went to Jason's Deli for dinner.  We both had the salad bar.  We sometimes have a small salad with dinner, but rarely do we have a salad as dinner.  We're carnivores and darn proud of it!

Since then strange things have been happening.  First, I took Emma Belle out for her last dootie call of the day and found it to be cool.  Again...I said COOL.  It's a relative term, I know, but compared to the 107 of late afternoon, 80 felt cool.  Strange.

Then I woke up at 3 am with an idea of how to build a balance board (improves balance and coordination) using inexpensive building materials instead of  paying $50 for a store-bought one.  But how big?  I got up and went to the internet and did several minutes of highly intense academic research and decided what I really wanted was a "wobble board".

 At 3 am.  Very strange. 

Finally at 6 am this morning, as I was throwing on some old clothes to take the dog out for her first dootie call of the new day, I heard it....thunder.  Then I heard....could it be?....rain!  Radar showed one tiny little shower right over my side of my town, right over me.  Beyond strange.  

I'm thinking it was the salad.  What else could it be?  It must have had some mighty powerful juju.  I promise I'll never make fun of salad again.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Where's FEMA??

So there's an earthquake in Washington, DC, and Wall Street responds by going UP 322 points.  Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it almost looks like....  :)


Another day in Paradise...with photo

My beloved 'lil Audi is getting spruced up today.  "Detailed", that is.  It's pushing 5 years old with 83,000 miles on the clock, and in great mechanical shape, but in need of a shave and a haircut.  I get those Living Social emails daily (similar to Groupon) and not long ago they had an offer for auto detailing at 1/2 price. DEAL!

Another nice benefit of me cleaning up my car is the rain.  It's common knowledge if I wash my car it will rain.  A simple wash, a little rain.  With a full-fledged detailing, I'm expecting a LOT of rain.  Maybe not as much as my friends in Virginia and the Carolina's will be getting in a few days (and hopefully they'll all come through unscathed but just wet), but rain none-the-less.  If I don't see rain here within 48 hours I'm going back and asking for a refund.  Breach of implied promise, or something.

My birthday was a good one.  I heard from all my loved ones, even the little ones who can only slobber and mumble.  A new season of Top Gear was aired last night in my honor.  Thank you BBC.  :)  K and I had a nice dinner at home as we're going out with All My Children on Wednesday to celebrate.

Other than that, the days drone on.

Adios mi amigos,


Looks pretty good all cleaned up, huh?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ants in my pants

Thank God for cars, and planes, and trains.  They enable us to hop on one and go far, far away from where we don't want to be.  Right now I want to be far, far away from Texas.  Somewhere cooler, and with a better view, or at least a different view.

I've read that a century ago most people grew up and later died all within 25 miles of where they were born.  "Travel" was going into town on Saturday for some supplies.  Only the super-wealthy had cars, and air travel was downright exotic.  We can thank Mr. Ford for opening up the world to us masses.

I guess if you didn't know any better it wasn't so bad, but today we do know better.  It's the old 'the grass is always greener' thing, and I have a bad case of it.  I don't know if its just a matter of miserable summer weather, the constant pressure of the rat race, or me just reading too many books and magazines for my own good, but today I'm restless beyond belief.  Having "roots" can sometimes work against you. 

I'm going to get me one of those "countdown" calendars, the kind where you X off each day until ________.  In my case, ________ means moving to Colorado or somewhere equally cool (both literally and figuratively).  


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Creative advertising got my attention!

Looks like another "inside" weekend.  The temp is expected to set another record today....107.  I can't remember ever looking forward to autumn more.  It's so hot, even pool water is uncomfortably warm.  Most people have pool heaters to stretch the usable swimming season.  Here we need pool chillers to stretch the usable swimming season.

I went to the gym this morning, which I needed to do, but OMG is it boring!  Later we'll stop by Paradise Bakery for lunch (they make a great club sandwich) then....?  I'm sure by mid-afternoon I'll be listening to K whine about "we never go out and do anything".  "DO" something, as in "expend energy"?  Heck, I'm one small step ahead of spontaneous combustion as it is.  Maybe something fun will pop up on our radar.  I hope so.


Friday, August 19, 2011

What a GREAT birthday gift!! :)

My wife knows me well.  She surprised me last night with my birthday (Monday) gift:  two VIP tickets to the Foat Wuth Music Festival on September 30.  One of my favorite artists, Marcia Ball, will be one of the main attractions. From what I've read the venue is heavily weighted with Blues and Jazz.   How cool is that?  

K and I decided a while back that we really didn't want any more "thing" presents, but preferred "experience" gifts, something that creates memories you can enjoy long after "things" have outlived their usefulness.  Nobody ever said, "Hey, remember that cool blue striped shirt I got back in '97?"  But a nice vacation, a favorite artist in concert....memories of those will be with you forever.  And being over a month away will give me something to look forward to, plus this summer's miserable weather should be much better (cooler) by then.

Yesterday I stepped off a curb right on to a small (unseen) piece of broken concrete, rolled my foot, and took a tumble.  I caught myself with one hand and my left knee, did a fairly graceful roll off my left side and popped back up.  I did the obligatory 360 to see if anyone saw me (read: was laughing hysterically), then ducked into my car before the pain set in.  OUCH!  Today I feel like I imagine an NFL running back feels on Monday morning, except without the million dollar paycheck in my pocket.

I suppose I should hobble off to work now.  Hope you have a fun Friday and a great weekend, too.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I think I've already seen this movie....

....and I didn't like it.

Starting this weekend I have to go back to working on Sunday afternoons.  Ugh!  In our business weekends are "prime time".  That's when most other people have time off to go looking at new homes, so we have to accommodate their schedules.  

Mr & Ms W's home isn't nearly finished yet, but it is far enough along for prospective clients to get an idea of what we can do.  The W's have very graciously allowed us to show their home until it's completed, giving us an opportunity to hopefully find other clients to build for.  This is how the W's home looks at this time:

The kitchen cabinets around the perimeter are knotty alder, while the island will be enameled and lacquered.  Of course everything will be swept out and (semi-) presentable....that's about the best we can hope for by the weekend.

As my brother likes NFL football he prefers to work on Saturday's and keep his Sunday's open.  I like college ball, so I prefer to relax on Saturday's and work Sunday's.  This way we're both (sort of) happy.  Still, giving up 2 back-to-back days off is hard, but in this economy you do what you have to to make a buck.

Think we'll ever see any semblance of old-fashioned (3 years ago) economic stability?  I'm ready to slow down, not peddle faster.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Do you believe in omens?

I'm starting this new day with trepidation.  By all rights this should be a slam-dunk day.  All I have to do is wait for one building inspector this morning, and then just make my rounds the rest of the day.  The inspection should pass handily, no known crisis looming....easy day.  Maybe too easy.

Apparently I have the coordination of a monkey playing basketball this morning.  I reached in to the refrigerator to get my jug of grape juice and I knocked over an entire LARGE bowl of grapes and they spilled all over the floor, rolling into places I didn't even know we had.  (We pull them off the vine individually and wash's easier to just grab a few for a snack that way.)   The dog thought it was surely Christmas as there were "presents" rolling everywhere, which we couldn't let her have because grapes are supposedly poison to dogs.  I'm afraid the ones I couldn't find will soon lead us to having a good crop of raisins.

Is this an omen?  What else will happen today?    Will I have a flat tire?  Can I drive from Point A to Point B without bouncing off something?  Will I get drafted to run for President?


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The REAL Rick Perry

Now that Texas' Governor Rick Perry has announced his candidacy for president I'm sure the airwaves will be inundated with misinformed 30-second sound bites about our esteemed governor.  Let me tell you a few things you're probably not going to hear about Mr. Perry from his supporters.

First and foremost he's an opportunist.  He is quick to jump on what the prevailing poll sentiment says is currently popular....until the poll numbers change next week.  He's masterfully played up his reputation for fiscal conservatism to the Tea Party-ers, although his 10-year record as governor doesn't match his rhetoric.  When he became governor in 2000 Texas state debt was just over $13B ($16B in 2011 dollars allowing for inflation).  Today it's over $35B.  Ouch!

He'll tell you that under his leadership Texas' economy has thrived, and that 40% +/- of all jobs created in the US in the past several years have been in Texas.  True, BUT he doesn't tell you that the vast majority of those jobs are low-paying with few if any benefits.

So why have we thrived?  We're sitting on an ocean of oil and natural gas, and with crude prices around $100 a barrel, it would be hard NOT to thrive.  Remember NAFTA....the North American Free Trade Agreement?  It opened up a torrent of cheap imports from south of the Rio Grande border, and those imports are shipped straight up the middle of Texas to points north, which means jobs.  It's simple geography.  (And remember, NAFTA predated Rick Perry's governorship by a decade.)  Rick Perry has simply been at the right place at the right time.  

Remember all the fuss over the abuse of Eminent Domain, the legal tool used to take people's property if it's for the "public good" (such as for a school)?  Perry gets really bent-out-of-shape over that one....never mind that he once proposed the Trans-Texas Corridor, a half-mile-wide strip of confiscated land all the way from Mexico to Oklahoma and beyond that was going to be developed for highway/rail/data transmission, the rights to do so sold to a private (and foreign at that) FOR-PROFIT group.  Seems he overstepped his bounds on that one and was slapped down by the people when they found out about it.

Perry likes to tell the story of how he got in Barack Obama's face saying, "if you can't police our borders, WE can" (or something close).  Lots of talk, very little action.  Why?  Cheap labor fuels all those new low-paying jobs he's so proud of.  Business interests bluster a lot, but deep down they LOVE all that cheap labor.  REAL immigration reform isn't going to happen if Perry is elected president.  (Sorry Tea Party.)

His supporters will point out that he'll be a powerful national candidate because he's a prodigious fund-raiser.  Or to put it another way, he's never met a PAC (political action committee) he didn't like.  (See "Trans-Texas Corridor" above.)  He once proposed that it be mandatory that all little girls be vaccinated against PVM (a virus linked to cervical cancer).  Conservatives objected loudly about the intrusion on people's parental rights and he backed down.  Oh....and it was discovered that Perry's former Chief-of-Staff was then actively lobbying for his new employer Merck (pharmaceutical), the ONLY maker of an approved PVM vaccine at the time. *cha-ching*

He is a master practitioner of patronage, too.  After 10 years in office he has packed every department, commission, committee, college Board of Regents....even 6 of our 9 Supreme Court justices.  The size of our state government has grown MUCH faster than our increase in population would suggest it should.  So much for "smaller government".   (I guess the Tea Party missed that.)

So don't we here in Texas love him?  I mean, we've elected him governor 3 times. flash:  Anyone running for statewide office in Texas with an "R" beside their name is pretty much a shoe-in.

So should you vote for him?  I dunno.  That's your choice.  He's a snake, a worm, a liar, or as those types are commonly  called today, a "politician".  Is he any better or worse than any of the rest?  Probably not.  But if you do vote for him, don't expect him to be a pure ideological standard bearer adoring supporters can rally around.  Best case he might be the least objectionable.  Worst case....?  Just go in with your eyes wide open, and don't turn your back on him.

On a positive note, he does have that most essential presidential qualification of all:  good hair.  ;)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oasis found!

Like the parched man wandering in the desert looking for even a small puddle of water, I've been hallucinating over water for, months now.  It's been 105-110 degrees every day with nary a cloud in sight.  Parched, I tell 'ya.

Two days ago rain drifted south out of Oklahoma and made it titillatingly close to Dallas.  We didn't get any, but it made the lead story on the local news, ahead of news of the world economic implosion and a possible cure for cancer.  (Hey, we have priorities!)

This morning I finally dragged myself out of bed at 7:30 to take the dog for her dootie call and was greeted by....wait for it....RAIN!  WooHoo!!  Emma Belle wouldn't even step off the porch, but just looked at the rain, then at me, her eyes asking, "What am I supposed to do with that?"

I had a suspicion this might happen as last night it was cool enough for us to actually walk around our neighborhood and see the "beautiful people" (read: ladies) milling around waiting for tables at restaurants, and listen to a killer blues band playing under the porte-cochere.  

Which reminds me:  We saw couples where the lady was dressed to the nines....absolutely magazine-cover gorgeous....and the guy looked like he just crawled out from under the car after changing the oil.   What's with that?

Have a good day everyone.  :)


Friday, August 12, 2011

I stay away for a few days and THIS is what I come back to...

Whew!  This has been a busy but productive week.  I've been at work early every day doing a time-sensitive remodel for a customer.  Fortunately all my guys have shown up on time and worked hard, and my customers say they have been awesomely impressed.  Today will actually be relaxed as all I have to do is sit and wait for the various inspectors to visit and give me their blessing.

I did manage to spend a long lunch hour on Wednesday with two of my daughters and three of my grandsons.  I left with a serious twitch and a grotesquely stretched-out shirt due to all the boys pulling on it wanting me to watch/play with them.  But I love 'em.  *blink...twitch...jerk*

I see the world's economies are imploding....AGAIN.  And of course we can trace it all back to the scheming bankers and their sleaze lawyers who have them just barely inside "legal", never mind "ethical".  This time it seems it's in Europe (whose bankers must be about 3 years better than ours at covering their feces).  When will we get smart and just round them all up, confiscate all their ill-gotten wealth, and banish them to some razor-wire-ringed desolate island?  

Hope you're all dodging the Wall Street bullet.  Enjoy your upcoming weekend.  :)


Monday, August 8, 2011

The latest "Texas" joke.....

June 20th:
Really heating up. Got to 100 today. Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun every day like this.  I'm turning into a sun worshipper.

June 30th:
Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today. Lots of
 cactus and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but I love it here.

July 10th:
The temperature hasn't been below 100 all week. How do people get
 used to this kind of heat? At least it's kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected.

July 15th:
Fell asleep by the community pool. Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of
 my body. Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect ol' Mr. Sun in a climate like this.

July 20th:
I missed Lomita (my cat) sneaking into the car when I left this
 morning. By the time I got to the hot car at noon, Lomita had died and swollen up to the size of a  shopping bag, then exploded like a water balloon. The car now smells like Kibbles and Poop. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat. Good ol' Mr. Sun strikes again.

July 25th:
The wind sucks. It feels like a giant freakin' blow dryer! And
 it's hot as hell. The home air-conditioner is on the fritz and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he needed to order parts.

July 30th:
Been sleeping outside on the patio for 3 nights now. $425,000 house
 and I can't even go inside. Lomita is the lucky one. Why did I ever come here?

Aug. 4th:
It's 115 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today. It
 cost $500 and gets the temperature down to 85. I hate this stupid state.

Aug. 8th:
If another wise ass cracks, 'Hot enough for you today?' I'm going
 to strangle him. Heat. By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over, my clothes are soaking wet, and I smell like baked cat!!

Aug. 9th:
Tried to run some errands after work. Wore shorts, and when I sat
 on the seats in the car I thought my rear was on fire. My skin melted to the seat. I lost 2 layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and rear. Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried ass, and baked cat.

Aug 10th:
The weather report might as well be a repeat recording. Hot and
 sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. It's been too hot to do anything for 2 months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn't it ever rain in this freakin' state? There's water rationing now, so my $1700 worth of cactus will just dry up and blow over. Even the cactus can't live in this heat.

Aug. 14th:
Welcome to HELL! Temperature got to 115 today. Cactus are dead.
 Forgot to crack the window and blew the windshield out of the car. The installer came to fix it and guess what he asked me?  "Hot enough for you today?" My sister had to spend $1,500 to bail me out of jail. Texas....What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here? Will write later to let you know how the trial goes.

Hahaha!  Lotta truth here.  :)